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How to get into an MBA program that's right for you

May 31, 2022
Woman sitting at desk, using computer researching how to get into an MBA program.

When you enroll in a graduate business program, you commit to creating a better future for yourself and your family. Before making that commitment, you have to choose from a wide range of programs. Then you have to be accepted into the program.

But don’t worry. Just take your time with the process, and read our tips on how to get into the MBA program that’s right for you. First, a quick review of the benefits of an online graduate business program.

Sharper skills. Wider network. Higher income potential.

These are typical outcomes for MBA graduates. The MBA and the Master’s in Business Analytics (MSBA) offer some of the highest potential returns on graduate education. With these degrees, you can earn nearly double the entry-level salary of a colleague with a bachelor’s. Plus, you can compete for positions with more visibility and growth potential.1

Create career value with cross-functional skills

Cross-functional, cross-industry skills create high demand for MBA and MSBA graduates, which is why general management and international management top the list of popular MBA specializations. The online graduate programs at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics develop those cross-functional skills and your professional network within an ethical framework that can help you sustain long-term career growth.2

What is the average salary of an MBA graduate?

That depends on many factors, including location, industry, gender, the focus and prestige of the graduate program, and who is reporting the data. Average entry-level salaries for MBAs are variously reported at $89,935 and $101,034. Job opportunities for MBAs are plentiful across industries.3, 4

Entry-level salaries for MSBA graduates are comparable to, and sometimes higher than, those for MBA graduates. Demand for business analysts is growing much faster than average as more businesses attain data maturity. Learn more about MSBA careers and salary potential.

Do employers take online MBAs seriously?

Yes. In addition, there are some important ways in which online programs are superior to on-campus programs. When you enroll in an online program, you don’t need to commute or relocate. Online programs allow you to do coursework when it’s convenient, so you can keep working and keep up with your family obligations.

Why do you want the degree?

Answer the question for yourself and your chosen school

That’s essential advice about how to get into an MBA program or an MSBA program. When you’re clear on what you want to do with your degree, it will help you choose a program that aligns with your goals.

After you graduate, it will help you land your dream job. In a recent article, hiring managers said they cared much more about why someone earned a degree than whether it was earned online or on-campus.5

What other factors help you choose the right graduate business program?

Here are some other questions you can ask about the graduate business programs you’re considering.

How does the school help you make connections? Consider the school’s alumni network and the opportunities it offers for networking and mentorship.

What is the school’s reputation? You can examine different ranking publications, interview students and alumni, and do online searches to gauge how the program can help you compete with other job candidates.

Is the school accredited? Accreditation is another objective measure of the quality of the education offered.

What are tuition costs and financing options? Understanding tuition costs are important, especially if you need to finance your education.

What does all this have to do with how to get into an MBA program? Knowing about the available options will help you make the right choice about where to apply.

How to get into the MBA program of your choice

Admissions decisions for graduate business programs are typically based on:

  • Official transcripts showing a “good” GPA on undergraduate work
  • GMAT or GRE test scores that meet a pre-defined minimum
  • A resume highlighting your business experience and achievements
  • A personal statement or application essay
  • References

Admissions officers try to look at the whole candidate, and different schools have different benchmarks for grades, test scores, and work experience. The business school admissions process is competitive and understanding how your target school evaluates applications will help you focus on the most important parts of your application package.

Reach out to the admissions office for information

Although you can probably find information on acceptable grades and test scores on the university’s website, it’s a good idea to reach out and talk to admissions staff. Admissions advisors can give you a lot more details and important insights into how to get into an MBA program.

Polish your resume and personal statement

Craft your written application materials to reflect your business communication skills. Use your resume and personal statement to highlight how well you know yourself, the program, and how the program will advance your career plan.

Four things MBA programs look for in students translate to general topics to address in your application materials. They include managerial and leadership potential, intellectual ability, career awareness and planning, and personal characteristics including integrity, creativity, and perseverance.6

Read more tips on writing your resume and your personal statement.

Work to get a good score on the GMAT

Many schools don’t strictly require applicants to take the GMAT or GRE but will consider the scores as part of your holistic assessment. A good GMAT score can help you win acceptance even if you have deficiencies in other areas of your application.

Successful MBA applicants have recommended focusing on the GMAT early in the application process as a foundational piece of a strong application package. Learn more about the GMAT.7

How to get into an MBA program with a low GPA

You can compensate for a weak undergraduate GPA by getting a great score on the GMAT or GRE. Your GPA is historical, while the test score indicates your current abilities.

You can make a strong case for your professional growth and maturity by pairing a solid test score with a focused discussion in your personal statement. Leverage your resume and your references to further support your growth by highlighting career accomplishments and learnings.

How to get into an MBA program without work experience

If you just finished your bachelor’s and are wondering how to get into an MBA program, you can show your leadership potential through other activities. These can include your schoolwork, volunteering, and other activities. Different programs key on various factors, but relevant traits include maturity, self-awareness, initiative, and career focus. Again, references supporting those traits can help make your case for admission.

One more important tip for how to get into an MBA program

Give yourself enough time to do a good job. Rushing through your choice of schools or the application process will not serve you well. Creating a realistic timeline for your search and application will set you up for success and open the door to long-term career growth.

Albers offers a winning combination of benefits

Located in the epicenter of the Pacific Northwest tech community, Albers School of Business and Economics can help you future-proof your skills for senior management and business analytics careers.

The flexible online curricula and prestigious tech-forward alumni network of our AACSB-accredited business school can help you become the successful business leader you want to be. Schedule a call with an admissions advisor today.

  1. Retrieved on May 24, 2022, from bls.gov/careeroutlook/2021/data-on-display/education-pays.htm
  2. Retrieved on May 24, 2022, from princetonreview.com/business-school-advice/popular-mba-specializations
  3. investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/031215/what-average-salary-mba-graduate.asp
  4. Retrieved on May 24, 2022, from blog.gmac.com/gmac-advisor/new-research-on-hiring-trends-and-salary-projections-for-business-school-graduates
  5. Retrieved on May 24, 2022, from fortune.com/education/business/articles/2021/04/27/what-do-recruiters-think-about-online-mbas/
  6. Retrieved on May 24, 2022, from associationofmbas.com/mba-guide/are-business-schools-looking-for-you-mba-admissions-criteria/
  7. Retrieved on May 24, 2022, from businessbecause.com/news/mba-degree/4865/business-school-9-mba-admissions-tips-students