Once you have decided to apply to business school, you will need to understand the admissions process. Although the it is fairly straightforward, there are many time-consuming details. Remember that you alone are responsible for your application every step of the way.

The admission committee at the schools to which you apply will be interested in varying degrees with four documents which might indicate your potential for success: your academic record, your letters of recommendation, your Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score and your application itself.


Your academic record will be carefully reviewed by every admission committee but assigned varying weight depending upon 1) the objective of the institution and 2) your work and leadership record. (Please see the discussion of the value of experience in the "When to Apply" section.) Although there are rarely specific undergraduate requirements, courses in math, economics and computer science can be very helpful in business school. Generally speaking, any undergraduate major or course of study that develops strong analytical and quantitative skills is satisfactory. Further information on requirements at specific business schools is available in the catalogs or from recruiters who visit campus.


Business schools usually require two or three letters of recommendation. In selecting whom to use as a reference, remember it is to your advantage to choose individuals who can relate your skills in some depth. In other words, select those who know you well and can judge your potential as a manager. You might consider including a reference from someone who has supervised you in a work situation, as well as several professors.

You are encouraged to open a credentials file at the CRC if you are planning to apply to graduate or professional schools this year or in the future, or if you will need references for employment. The Credential Service will facilitate the storage and mailing of letters of recommendation.


The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT) that is available year-round at test centers throughout the world. Like all standardized tests, preparation for the GMAT is essential. However, the form this preparation takes varies from student to student. The GMAT is a timed test with complex directions. It will, therefore, be essential to familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions and the instructions for each section. Read More...


The application itself is an important document in the admissions process and deserves great care. Nearly all applications include essay questions. Some schools give you a series of questions or specific topics on which to write; others ask broad, open-ended questions. No matter what form, be sure your essays are carefully and cogently constructed. In addition to demonstrating your potential for business school success, be certain your essays testify to your written communication skills as well. Remember also to be succinct--if asked for 200 words, don't give 600.

Applications for admission and financial aid, copies of the school's catalog and other publications should be requested in late summer or early fall. This will allow you time to work on essays and assemble the necessary documents. Deadlines vary from school to school; some are as early as December, others extend until late spring. However, we have noticed that early candidates fare better in the admission process and urge you to complete your application well before the published deadline. In schools with rolling admission policies, this is crucial. If you have completed your applications by Thanksgiving break, you will be certain to be among the early applicants.

Decisions for acceptance are also made on varying schedules. In general, you will be notified in mid- to late- spring of your status. You will not be asked to make a decision until April 15 at the earliest.

Business schools, unlike other graduate and professional schools, do not confine their decisions to admit, wait list, reject. Several, especially those that emphasize work experience, offer deferred admittance. This guarantees you a place in a class one or two years after the class for which you applied. Other schools may reject you for this year's entering class, but encourage you to reapply after several years of work experience.

It is often difficult to accept the fact that a school has not accepted you. Usually, this means the admissions committee decided there was, in their opinion, some weakness in your application itself, previous academic performance, test scores or letters of recommendation. If you would like to know specifically why you were not accepted, it may be worthwhile for you to call the school's admissions office in hopes of arranging a time for you to meet with an admissions officer. Perhaps the information you learn can better prepare you for re-application to that school or to other selective institutions. Please feel free to discuss your individual needs with a counselor at the Career Center at any time during this process.