Portrait of a Successful MBA Grad School Applicant

November 21st, 2012

It’s a dream master’s degree for many. It’s a path to a better earning potential, the powerful degree called the MBA. With the rise of the corporate world and the increasing importance of corporations and corporate managers, many have come to appreciate the value of an MBA. In fact, the degree is as versatile as can be, with students having the option to specialize in a wide variety of subjects from finance to environmental management.

Portrait of a Successful MBA Grad School Applicant

It’s not surprising that so many of us want to join the ranks of those corporate workers walking out in well-tailored, sleek business suits. So what does it take to be an MBA student? What does an average candidate for MBA grad school like?

Previous Academic Performance

Students ought to show evidence of strong academic potential. This doesn’t mean that a super-high GPA at undergrad school is required, but it does mean that your GPA should not be down in the dumps. The average undergrad GPAs of most MBA students falls in the range of 3.1-3.8. Besides this, you ought to show evidence of strong quantitative and analytical skills. This means that subjects such as calculus, statistics and economics should be familiar to you. If not, many MBA grad schools will need you to take some of these courses before enrolling in the program.

GMAT Scores

The GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test – is a standardized exam used by MBA schools as a selection criterion for their candidates. Typically, GMAT scores of candidates who have made it into a top-class MBA program hovers around 680-760 (out of 800). Schools will weigh your scores in the quantitative and qualitative parts of the test depending on your preferred specialization. For example, those wishing to major in finance during their MBA will be required to have a high score in the quantitative section.

Work Experience

What sets successful MBA program applicants apart from any other master’s degree program is their work experience. About 99 percent of successful candidates have at least one year of work experience, and on average, most students have 5 years of work experience before starting the program. Most of the candidates come from the finance and consulting industries, though there are candidates having experience from marketing, engineering, healthcare, accounting, MIS management industries and even the military.


Most successful candidates to the MBA grad school fall in the age range of 25-33 years, though there are candidates younger or older than this too. There are a significant proportion of international candidates – about 40 percent – while the class portfolio consists of a female: male ratio of around 40:60.

Career Goals

MBA candidates are expected to be very sure about their career goals. Each place in the MBA grad school is very precious and the admission committee has to be sure it goes to the right candidate and not to someone who’s not even sure about the next 2 months in their professional life. That is one reason why most MBA candidates have substantial work experience before applying for an MBA program, as it gives them the maturity and experience to be clear on how they want their careers to be in the coming 5-10 years.

So, how do you weigh up against these measures? Do you have what it takes to be an MBA student?

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