How MBA Admissions Works

MBA Admission Factors: What Matters Most?

If you ever have any doubts about applying to business school, contact the admissions office for information.
If you ever have any doubts about applying to business school, contact the admissions office for information.
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What if you have a low GPA and a high GMAT score? Or a low GMAT score and a high GPA? Or maybe you've had some amazing business or internship experiences, but your academic and test credentials aren't as impressive as you'd like them to be?

MBA programs weigh many different factors when determining admission, and whether or not an applicant is successful isn't as clear cut as you might think it would be. MBA admission decisions take into account all parts of your application, and various institutions weigh GPA, test scores and experience differently. In general, however, the following factors are most important in MBA applications.

First and foremost, your GMAT score is very important. Because it's a universal measure of MBA potential, your score will be compared to all of the applicants. Before you apply, check out average scores of programs in which you're interested to see where you fall. This will give you a good idea if you're in the running for admission.

Next, schools will consider your GPA. After all, they'll want to see how successful you were at your previous academic institutions. Although a high GPA will certainly prove beneficial in the admission process, the caliber of your previous institution might also play into their admission decision. For example, a lower GPA at a top tier school might be favored over a higher GPA at a lower ranked school.

In addition, your level of experience and interest will also be looked at carefully by MBA programs. The quality of past internships or jobs and connections you've made in the academic or business world will definitely factor into an MBA programs decision about your admission.

When in doubt about your potential for success in a particular MBA program, contact the admissions offices of the schools in which you're interested. They can give you additional, school-specific information about their admission statistics. For lots more information on applying to school, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Harvard Business School. "Admission and Financial Aid." (March 12, 2010)
  • The Association to Advance the Collegiate Schools of Business. "Data and Research." (March 12, 2010)
  • The Boston Globe. "In recession, MBA students seek backup plan." Feb. 13, 2009. (March 12, 2010)
  • MBA Admissions. (March 12, 2010)
  • MBA Programs and Admissions (March 12, 2010)
  • MBA Admission Advice. (March 12, 2010)
  • MBA. "The Official GMAT Website." (March 12, 2010)
  • VanderMey, Ann. "MBA Applications: Is the Party Over?" Business Week. May 26, 2009. (March 12, 2010)