Applying to MBA programs can be a long process with many ups and downs. Many business school candidates spend a year or more preparing for the application process to ensure all the pieces are in place for a compelling application.

MBA Admissions Process

1+ years before application deadlines

Begin a self-assessment: What are your career goals; what do you really want to do? Why is an MBA important to help you reach your goals?

Start researching MBA programs

Create your MBA budget and savings plan. and research ways to finance business school

Attend a Forté MBA Forum to meet with representatives from leading MBA programs in North America and Europe

Apply for Forté MBALaunch to get help with everything from GMAT prep and resume editing to story and essay development

1 year to 9 months before application deadlines

Start studying for the GMAT or GRE

Register to take the GMAT or GRE

Create a list of target schools and get to know each target school program

Visit target schools

Watch Forté webinars to gain insights on career paths and schools

6 months before application due dates

Get your transcripts from your undergrad school

Identify and meet recommenders

Complete application materials

Draft essays

Practice interviewing

There are two basic types of admissions processes: round and rolling.

Rolling Admissions

Business schools on rolling admissions accept applications anytime between a set of dates. Applications are reviewed as they are received and spots are filled on a continual basis. You will want to submit your application as soon as possible to any school that has rolling admission.

Round Admissions

These types of business schools have between two to four application deadlines known as Rounds. The deadlines are spread out throughout the months before enrollment.

When Should you Apply to Business School?

As a general rule of thumb, you want to apply as early as possible. But only apply when you feel your candidacy is as strong as possible. Applying in the first round may increase your chances of admission, because there are more empty spots available. But if you are not ready, need to retake your GMAT or you feel rushed to complete your applications, then you should wait and apply in a later Round.

For some schools, you want to avoid applying in the last Round (for many schools that is Round 3) as most spots have been filled.

How to Finance Your MBA

Getting your MBA does require a significant financial investment. Yearly tuition and expenses can range from $20,000 to over $200,000. While that may seem out of reach, grants, loans, fellowships and other programs can make it possible.

While the initial costs may be high, so are the returns. Pay gains at graduation average 34-40% of your pre-MBA salary. After five years, that number rises to 55-65%, giving you a lifetime earning potential of over $3 million. On average, it takes 4 years to recoup the investment in an MBA.

With the right mix of resources, it is possible to attend almost any business school. Make sure to talk with the financial aid advisors at the schools that interest you. Some ways you can pay for your MBA include:

  • Fellowships through the MBA program (i.e., teaching or research assistance)
  • Need- or merit-based scholarships through the business school
  • Federal and/or personal loans
  • Private grants from foundations or nonprofit organizations
  • Employer sponsorship or loan-forgiveness programs
  • Personal savings
  • Internship income

Forté has also developed a strong fellowship program for women just like you. Through our partnership with our business school sponsors, women can be awarded Forté MBA Fellowships to attend sponsor MBA programs.

Financing Resources

These resources are provided for reference only. Forté does not endorse any specific lenders.

Attending MBA Fairs

MBA fairs provide potential students an opportunity to meet with admissions personnel from multiple schools over the course of the day. These events are a great way to get a feel for each school, as well as begin to networking with alumni and key decision makers.

Make the Most of an MBA Fair

Prepare. Do your homework and create a list of programs you believe will suit your individual goals, abilities and circumstances. At the fair, focus on the schools you already know are likely to be a good match, and come prepared with a list of questions to ask, such as teaching style, mix of students, academics, areas of specialization, future career options and cost of living.

Be concise. You won’t have much time with each prospective school, so you want to make the most of it. Keep your questions focused and relevant and prepare an “elevator pitch” in advance to give the admissions personnel a quick snapshot of your background and goals.

Connect with the alumni. An increasing number of schools bring alumni to fairs alongside their admissions personnel. Probe them for insights about the pros and cons of their b-school experience.

Look the part. While you certainly don’t need to show up in a suit, remember this is your first opportunity to make a good impression. It makes sense to look and act in a professional manner.

Ask about funding options. Business school can be expensive. Find out what scholarships the school offers, if they have special loan opportunities with local financial institutions, and inquire about fellowship opportunities as well.

Trust your instincts. A lot of successful MBA students say they knew the right school as soon as they talked to its representative, so trust your gut as much as your research. Make sure you assess the people you meet — are they interested in you and your questions? Do you feel a certain chemistry? Remember, this is your opportunity to interview them as much as it is a chance for them to get to know you.