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How Executive MBA Programs Work

Applying to Executive MBA Programs

Applying to an executive MBA program isn't like applying for a job -- or even a typical MBA program. Even though many executive MBA applicants are highly successful in their respective fields, they'll need more than an overstuffed resume to be accepted.

Every executive MBA program has its own admissions requirements, but the following are the most common:

  • complete an application form (most are entirely online)
  • answer an essay question
  • supply two professional letters of recommendation, preferably from a superior and a colleague at your current job
  • supply a "letter of sponsorship"
  • send official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions
  • send GMAT test scores
  • send TOEFL or IELTS scores (if applying as a non-native English speaker)
  • conduct interview (in-person or on the phone)
  • pay the application fee (between $150 and $200)

Many of these admissions criteria are familiar to anyone applying to a graduate or professional school. The exception is the letter of sponsorship. A letter of sponsorship -- or letter of organizational support -- is a written commitment by the top-level management at the applicant's company that they fully support his or her decision to attend an executive MBA program.

Letters of sponsorship often include details of any financial support that the company is supplying so that the employee can attend the program. Some companies pay for the entire cost of an executive MBA degree, while others cover a portion of the tuition. All companies must demonstrate through the sponsorship level that they understand the time commitment required by an executive MBA program, which can be substantial. At the most basic level, the letter acknowledges that the employee will be taking time away from work every other Friday.

If you're self-employed or if you're the top executive at your company, you can write and sign your own letter of sponsorship.

Foreign applicants have to complete a few extra steps to get their applications in order. If you graduated from a foreign university, all of your transcripts must be translated into English (by an approved translator) and all of your college credits must be verified by a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Keep in mind that each school has its own specific admissions requirements. Some don't require GMAT scores or interviews, for example, and others do. Most schools also list their minimum admissions criteria, such as the minimum number of years of work and managerial experience.

We forgot to mention one other requirement for admission: money. Executive MBA programs aren't cheap. On the next page, we'll look at ways to pay for your MBA.