Most top schools go through a rigorous process to select the right students ionto their programs. Their goal is to create a great mix of talented and motivated people, from diverse business and cultural backgrounds.


The typical elements of the application file that you have to build are:

  • Application form
  • Proof of previous field of study
  • Essays
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Previous professional experience


The business schools' application forms are often quite lengthy, and require much thought as well as time to complete. It is important to answer all questions completely. After initial contact with some universities, you may receive a Preliminary Application for admission. If you wish to receive the final application forms in time, you must complete and return the preliminary form as soon as possible.


  • All business schools require candidates to hold at least a Masters degree (according to Bologna definition).
  • It is not at all necessary to have studied business to be accepted into an MBA program. On the contrary, most business schools take pride in the diversity of educational backgrounds of their students, and will make sure to recruit a mix of business undergraduates, engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc.
  • Your academic results are an important element in your application. You will be asked to provide transcripts of your undergraduate studies, which are lists of courses taken, year by year, indicating the number of hours each course met, results in each course, and an explanation of the grading system.
  • These documents must be prepared by or certified by your university.
  • Any document not in English must be accompanied by an English translation, which you may prepare yourself and have certified at the Commission for Educational Exchange.


Most business schools ask at least one essay question involving self-evaluation. To give an example, you might be asked to discuss the following points : a situation in which you had significant responsibility and what you learned from it; your strengths and weaknesses in the areas of setting and achieving goals, and in working with other people; your career aspirations and why you have decided to enter an MBA program; and how you might contribute to the learning experience of others in the MBA program. Read the catalogue of each MBA program in order to see what their orientation is and to see what type of students they are looking for.


While it is essential that you answer these questions with great care and honesty, many European candidates tend to undersell rather than oversell their character, abilities, ambitions and experiences, compared to their Anglo-Saxon colleagues. Be aggressive, but remain credible!


Your application essays can play a crucial part in the Admissions Offices' decisions, so try to make your essays not only informative but also interesting to read. Therefore, as much as possible, you should refer to specific experiences and examples illustrating your character, achievements, abilities and ambitions, rather than speak about yourself or your teams in generic terms.


Each application should be typed, unless the form specifically requires it to be handwritten.


You will usually be asked to supply the business schools' Admissions Officers with three references. In theory, they may be written by your lecturers, employers, or anyone else who knows you well and who can comment on your intelligence and character, and on your potential ability to succeed in business school and in the business world. However, the more recent and the more intensive your exposure to the person, the more effective the recommendation usually is. Therefore a recommendation from your direct superior on your last job should usually be preferred to an academic reference from 3 years ago or a recommendation from a top manager who barely knows you.


References must be sent directly by the persons recommending you, to arrive at the Admissions Office before the application deadline. They should preferably be written in English. It is recommended to clearly explain the goal of this recommendation letter to the person you chose and to invite the person to mainly insist on your strengths and major accomplishments.


Most Business Schools clearly require applicants to have some full-time business or administration experience, although more recently a trend towards a higher share of students with no or limited work experience can be observed.


Admissions offices will look for proof of professional achievements, so do so highlight any promotions, significant salary increases, etc. in your resume. In your essays, be specific about your personal experience and learnings, don’t limit yourself to generic job descriptions.


Students with experience in the business world are not only likely to gain more from the MBA curriculum than are inexperienced participants, but are also able to contribute more to class discussions and projects. They are also likely to be more attractive to potential employers than are MBA graduates with no firsthand experience of business.

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