5 Tips for Applying to an Online MBA Program

Chalkboard with "Recommendations" written on it above blank numbered list
Chalkboard with "Recommendations" written on it above blank numbered list

Applying to an online MBA program can seem like a challenge. Are you sending the right documents, such as an MBA recommendation letter ? Have you properly described your work experience? Do you have enough personal letters of recommendation?

With so many variables, confusion and self-doubt can begin to rise. But don’t fret! Use these five application tips to increase the likelihood of your acceptance to a respected online MBA program. 5 Tips for Applying to an Online MBA Program

Make sure the program is accredited

The MBA application process is your chance to convince an institution that you’re good enough for their MBA program. However, the process is also a time to make sure that the program is good enough for you.

Perhaps, the most important step to take before applying to an MBA program is making sure that the institution is properly accredited. Accreditation, as explained by U.S. News and World Report, is the process by which schools, colleges and universities are evaluated by outside organizations to ensure that their programs meet a certain level of academic quality.

Many organizations participate in accreditation, so it’s important to research a school’s accreditation status as well as its accrediting organization before you apply. Take this fundamental step to ensure that the MBA program that you’re considering is reliable and qualified.

Emphasize work experience over hours in the classroom

While completing applications, writing cover letters and defining interview strategies, many aspiring MBA students focus primarily on their previous academic studies. They cite their team-oriented class projects, undergraduate papers and stellar GPAs.

Yet, MBA programs are looking for business leaders, and nothing can boast your qualifications as such better than first-hand work experience, especially in management and leadership. As you fine-tune your resume for an MBA program, remember to give more space and attention to your business achievements than your academic ones. Although it would be nice to be able to include a comprehensive history of your qualifications on your resume, limited space may require you to choose between featuring school and work-related experiences. If it comes down to it , choose work.

Clearly define your purpose

During the application process, institutions will want to know your motivations for pursuing an MBA. This helps them to understand your short and long term goals.

Because many admissions professionals find that motivated students are more likely to succeed, clearly outlining your motivations during the application process is in your best interest. In defining your purpose, be as specific and detailed as possible. It’s not enough to simply want to expand your business knowledge or advance up the professional ranks; you need to have thoughtful and concrete goals.

Here are a few examples: Bad: “I want to learn more about business.” “I want to increase my chance of working in an executive position.” Good: “I want to earn my MBA so that I can work in international business consulting.” “After earning my MBA, I will focus on business development in rural communities.”

Notice how the “good” examples are more defined, detailed and specific.

Contact your references today!

Most quality in-person or online MBA programs will require at least two recommendations, or “recommenders,” as Shawn O’Conner wrote on Forbes, with your application. These usually come from your professional and academic contacts. Don’t hesitate to contact former bosses, leaders, teachers and mentors to ask for recommendations as soon as you know that you’ll need them. Make sure to give them plenty of time to respond!

Prepare at least two questions for the interview

Even for online MBA programs, you’ll likely have to complete an interview, which will be used by the admissions staff to determine your acceptance status. The interview will have various components, including a discussion of your past experiences and future goals.

During the interview, you may have a chance to ask questions of your own. Don’t let this opportunity pass; prepare at least two questions for your interviewers. Asking questions not only helps you to get specific information; it also displays your curiosity, engagement and genuine interest in the program. Like job candidates, graduate program interviewees who ask questions stand out from their competition.