MBA Application Process: What’s Typically Required and How Much It Costs

Nov 26, 2014 -
In the world of entrepreneurship and higher education, everyone seems to be a little intimidated by the almighty MBA. So, let’s clarify a few fundamental concepts: Is an MBA totally worthwhile depending on your career goals? Yes. Is it also totally intimidating and gross? It is to me, and it may be to you, too. If you’re not quite sure, here’s a careful look at the MBA Application process with examples taken from the Harvard MBA application website. Pay attention -- there may be a red flag along the way that helps you realize that an MBA is not for you. If you feel the opposite way -- excited about your prospects -- that might be a sign it’s time to move forward.

MBA Background Application

The typical list of MBA background application requirements goes a little something like this:
  • A 4-year undergraduate degree or its equivalent
  • GMAT or GRE test results
  • TOEFL, iBT or IELTS test results if you attended a non-English undergraduate program
And that’s where you need to start asking the big questions: Do you have about 50 hours to prepare for a GMAT or GRE? Do you have $250 to drop on the test (and more if you don’t score well and need to retake it)? If not, then a big “Aw heck no…” should start building up in the back of your throat.

MBA Written Application

When you’re putting together your written application, the next steps start to form a long line on your to-do list app:
  • Transcript(s). Go ahead and call all of your schools and send them money to get these printables. Heaven help you if you forget it’s coming in the mail and accidentally open it!
  • GMAT/GRE Scores. Did you save these in a special place? You better hope so!
  • TOEFL/IELTS/Pearson Test of English. These, too.
  • Essay. While this is important, don’t start writing until you’re ready to be judged for your writing skills.
  • Two Recommendations. A great opportunity to stress out over the perfect combination of seniority and someone who “Knows just enough to be dangerous”...
  • Resume. Complete with tongue-in-cheek “Objectives” section.
  • $250 Fee. For the pleasure of them reading your name…
Do you have $250 and some change to blow on this application? Do you have the time to track down these test scores and put together a presentable packet to mail? And most important of all, are you ready to sum up your hopes, dreams, and ambitions in a 2,000 word essay? Then carry on...

MBA Application Interview

The next step in the interview process is the most painful one: after you submit your written application and the MBA board reviews it, they may or may not invite you to interview. That’s right, they may or may not invite you to spend $1,000+ on a roundtrip plane ticket, hotel room, and travel for a few days of awkward conversation. (And that’s not included the super-stressful process of presenting your best side to a group of MBA folks and hoping they choose you.) You’ll need preparation and coaching. You’ll need confidence, energy, and chutzpah. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably need to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag before and after.

MBA Application Post-Interview Reflection

Finally, some MBA institutions aren’t quite sure that’s torture enough, so they ask you to write up another essay to be judged. Except this time, it’s due within 24 hours to make sure you can write when you’re totally jetlagged and your nerves are wrecked. If you’re still intrigued by the process at this point, your masochist self will fit right in with the 2015 premier of 50 Shades of Grey Round 1 admissions for business school. Are you ready for an MBA? If you don’t know for sure, these practical questions should help. (Click here to tweet this question.) Did these requirements make you break out in hives? Or did each seem like an exciting and intimidating challenge? If the former, we’re in the same club. If the latter, you might want to start saving up for those test fees and travel expenses Sarah Greesonbach is the magic bean behind Greesonbach Creative, a distinctive copywriting and content studio, and is obsessed with writing about all things career. Her words have partied on AOL Jobs, Business Insider, and Simply Hired, and she documents mistakes in freelance living and eating Paleo on her blog, Life [Comma] Etc.