MBA Programs – Things to Consider

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The increasingly competitive job market means job seekers are trying to make their credentials as strong as possible. This means graduate school is on the mind of many recent graduates, and many — especially those with technical backgrounds — are interested in balancing that background with the strategic thinking skills developed through an MBA program.

One common misconception about Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs is that they require an undergraduate degree in business or management or at least some business coursework. While some MBA programs may have some foundational business requirements that are built into the curriculum, the majority of MBA students hold undergraduate degrees in areas other than business. As a matter of fact, one of the distinctive traits of MBA programs is the diversity of the students. The best MBA programs look for students who are coming from a variety of academic, professional and cultural backgrounds. Enrolling students from diverse backgrounds adds to the richness of MBA classroom and group discussions.

Students with engineering, computer science and physical sciences degrees particularly enjoy an MBA program because the broad strategic thinking skills developed in an MBA program complement the detail-oriented, problem-solving skills from their technical background. MBA corporate recruiters love students with technical degrees for the same reason!

There are basically two primary decisions admissions committees are making when reviewing applicants – potential for academic success and work experience.

When considering past academic work, admissions committees look at much more than the bottom-line GPA. Trends in the academic transcript, any graduate work that the applicant may have completed and reputation and academic rigor of the student’s schools and majors are all weighed in this part of the evaluation.

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is also a requirement for admission. Many business schools, including Georgia Tech, also accept the GRE. The entrance exam is generally given quite a bit of weight in the admissions process because it is a very reliable predictor of academic success in the first year of an MBA program. GMAT and GRE scores are valid for five years, so it is a good idea for students to take one of these tests during their senior year or shortly after graduation while test-taking skills are still sharp, even if the student is not planning to apply to business school until they have acquired a couple of years of professional work experience.

Secondly, admissions committees are reviewing applicants based on leadership potential and contributions to the program both in and out of the classroom. In this part of the application, work experience, essays, letters of recommendation and interviews are considered.

Most programs do require, or at least strongly recommend, at least two to three years of professional work experience beyond the bachelor’s degree. Work experience is important for two reasons. First, it allows the student to contribute to and benefit from classroom and group discussions. Second, corporate recruiters prefer students who have the MBA plus 2-6 years of professional work experience.

Regarding letters of recommendation, professional or academic references are preferred. Applicants should avoid personal references. The interview policy at each school is different, so students will want to inquire with the school of interest to determine if they can request an interview or if interviews are by invitation only.

Finally, students should remember that when selecting an MBA program, it is as much about “fit” as anything else. Finding a school that is strong in the applicant’s areas of interest, in addition to corporate recruiting, class size or location should all be considered when applying to business school. 

Another consideration is pursuing a full-time MBA or choosing a part-time or evening option for working professionals. Full-time programs allow for total immersion in the MBA experience, which creates a very strong sense of community. Students can also spend more time developing leadership skills and on the job search when they are in a full-time program. On the other hand, the benefits of a program designed for working professionals include being able to immediately apply things learned in class to the job and being able to continue to earn a salary while completing the degree. Many employers also provide tuition assistance. 

Click here for more information about the Georgia Tech MBA program at the Scheller College of Business.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Rachael Pocklington
  • Created:03/04/2013
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016


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