In this second article of a multi-part series detailing my experience with an online MBA program, I’m going to walk you through the admissions for an online MBA and spend time on what makes an ideal candidate for such a program. If that’s what you’re here for, read on!


For students and universities alike, as much as you’re trying to find the right program for you, the university is wanting to find the right people for their program. So who are those people?

The ideal candidate, as I see it, has three characteristics:

  1. Work experience

    Now I’ll talk about that in a sec, but wanted to talk about the GMAT first, and stick with me because it ties in. What I’ve seen become more commonplace for online MBAs is for GMAT scores to be optional, meaning that you don’t have to take the exam to be admitted. In my case, GMAT was optional, which was great because, I’ll be real, while I’ve done quite well academically, my GMAT score would’ve probably been NOT good. It would not have done me any favors.

    But what is being more and more accepted is the idea that these exams aren’t a good indicator of academic or professional success, and if the candidates that online MBAs attract are mid-career professionals, what is the exam going to tell them that the work experience wouldn’t?

    The caveat being, if you don’t have a lot of work experience at all, or maybe don’t have a good undergraduate GPA, a really good GMAT score can help reinforce your case.

    So all that to say, work experience is emphasized. Where the value of an MBA in general, not even just online, is that you can learn from the experience of others at other companies and industries. As a university offering an MBA program, you want to enrich the learning environment by having students with extensive experience across a wide range of fields.

    All the business concepts that are taught can be applied differently, and so you as a learner, get to understand how others have or might apply the learnings and in turn, that may give you new ideas on how to apply it to your role or career.

  2. Clear goals

    For anyone making the investment to pursue an MBA, they need to have a clear goal as to why they’re doing it and have a strong purpose beyond “I just want to make more money”. Well, everyone does, but I’d submit to you that a career is not all about money, it’s about doing something that is at the intersection of: what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and what you can get paid well for.

    That is the ultimate goal. If an MBA helps you move in that direction, you need to understand what that destination is for yourself, and be able to articulate that story. Where are you going next with this degree?

    Because for the university, it’s in their interest for their students to go on to do great things, to advance their careers or to make an impact in society, because 1) it proves out the value of their degree, and 2) as staff and faculty of an educational institution, most of them wouldn’t be in their positions if they didn’t have an interest in improving the lives of their students.

    They just want to make sure that, because spots are limited, that the students they select make the most of the degree.

  3. Track record of professional & academic success

    Starting with academics, folks, this is why I tell people that grades matter because whether you think it will or won’t in the future, having poor grades, at minimum, isn’t going to do you any favors. The program wants to see someone who has done well academically in the past; this, to them, is an indicator as to whether they can perform well in the program.

    Of course, you can offset this with great work experience if you had not so good grades in undergraduate school, but professional success is important. This is another indicator to the program that you’ll do the work and get the job done as it relates to assignments and group projects. They want strong performers because even after the MBA, and especially after the MBA, they have greater confidence that this MBA will serve to amplify your success, which as I mentioned before, proves out the value of the degree.

As far as the admissions process itself, it’s fairly standard and my experience was fairly straight forward, but the intent of the video was to put you in a position to be a strong candidate so that when you apply, you’ve got a better chance of being admitted. Hope this helped – thank you for reading!



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