Master of Business Administration Program (MBA)

Researching Programs

Since a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program usually requires a significant financial commitment, spend some time researching your options.  Consider:

  • The reputation of the program
  • The program location (resident vs. online) and setting (rural vs. city)
  • The cost of the program
  • Employment options post completion

A site like HowToMBA may help you to narrow down your choices.  Look at individual program websites to learn more about academics and other details.

Application Requirements

The materials you need to apply for MBA programs will differ by institution. However, most programs require the following, at a minimum:

International students may also be required to provide evidence of English language proficiency, such as the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Many MBA programs have February or March deadlines but begin reviewing applications as early as October of the previous year.  It’s in your best interest to apply early, if possible.

Admissions Essays

MBA applications typically include a few questions, to which the applicant is expected to respond with short essay answers.  The general themes of these essays include:

  • Why do you want get an MBA?
  • How has your work experience—including internship or co-op experience—prepared you for this program?*
  • How did you choose this particular program?
  • What do you want to do with your MBA?

Your writing should be clear, organized, and concise, with flawless grammar and spelling. 

*Please note that many MBA applicants have between two and four years of workplace experience prior to application.  If you are applying to an MBA program immediately after obtaining your undergraduate degree, focus your essay answers on experience gained from any short-term work experiences you have had, emphasizing any opportunities you have had for leadership or innovation.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation for MBA programs give admissions professionals a chance to learn more about you from someone else’s perspective. 

Professional references—including current or former supervisors—are preferred over academic references.  Your references should know you and your work well. Provide them with information that will help them write a strong recommendation letter, including a copy of your résumé and a summary of your professional goals. Give references at least three weeks’ advance notice that you need a letter. 

Make sure you follow any instructions about how your letters should be submitted; most institutions will request that letters be sent directly from your references, so provide them with any necessary information on how this should be done.

Interviews

Many MBA programs have an interview process for candidates with competitive applications.  Interviewers may be admissions staff or faculty, and their focus will be on your work experience—rather than your academic background—and how an MBA will help you to achieve your career goals.

You can prepare for an MBA interview in much the same way as you would prepare for a job interview.  Know as much as possible about the program in question and what you find attractive about it.  Be able to talk persuasively about the professional experience, accomplishments, and strengths that would make you a good candidate for the program.

 

Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

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The Pennsylvania State University

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Phone: 814-863-1032