Business Studies

General Information

The MBA or Masters of Business Administration is a degree aimed at preparing you to be a senior level manager or leader.  There are more than 700 MBA programs in the world.   As graduate management degrees, the emphasis is put on the understanding of how to utilize resources, teamwork, finances, and over-all business operations.  There area number of career paths for MBA graduates, including accounting, finance, human resource management, consulting, information systems, manufacturing, marketing, operations management, small business, government, education, health care, and not-for-profit.   So you can see the opportunities are endless.  

The reason most individuals pursue an MBA degree is because in order to be a good manager, you need to know not only the technical side of your organization, but more importantly you need to be able to organize the work of others, and make decisions that affect the major aspects of a business.


Academically, almost any undergraduate major prepares you overall for pursuit of an MBA.  Some points that can make you more appealing to an admissions board include knowing your numbers, this means having a solid foundation in math and economics.  Also, you will benefit from knowing, on some level, another language. Also, your undergraduate GPA is important, as well as your GMAT score.   

Experientially, an average of 4 years of work experience in a business setting, gaining some real experience can make your MBA degree more worthwhile developmentally.

Also, a key note:   those wishing to get into an MBA program that do not have such an extensive work history need to have superb academic credentials and an extensive record of extracurricular activities as well as clearly defined career goals.


The graduate management admission test, or GMAT is the admissions test associated with gaining admission to an MBA program.  It can help gauge your academic success during your first year of graduate school.  The GMAT consists of 3 sections, two of which are multiple choice (math and verbal), with the third being an analytical section.  Your scores are important, but remember, each school weighs different aspects of the application differently.  

To learn more about the GMAT click HERE.

Application Process

The application process consists of these different elements.  Your undergraduate record, GMAT (U.S. Citizens) and TOEFL (International applicants) test scores, Work experience, Essays, Letters of Recommendations, and Interviews.  Putting these different aspects of each applicant allows for the admissions board to make selective decisions regarding who is selected into their program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answered by:   Marie Mookini, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean & Director of Admissions

Stanford Graduate School of Business


Beyond the academics, what is the value of the MBA experience?

Quite simply, it’s the people.  That’s what most MBA graduates will tell you-that their classmates defined their experience, that some of their classmates have become their closest friends. Furthermore, your time in the MBA program will provide you with a network of contacts that will be able to enrich your professional life.


Do I have to declare a major in business school?

Some programs require majors or concentrations, and other do not.   There are benefits to both.  Not having to fulfill the requirements of a major allows you to gain breadth or depth through your elective classes.  In essence, it gives you maximum flexibility to tailor the program to meet your needs.  On the other hand, having a concentration allows you to develop depth in an area, and sends a strong signal to future employers of your primary interests and expertise.


If I apply as a college senior and don’t get in, will that hurt me if I reapply in the future?

Absolutely not.  Some schools will provide feedback on your unsuccessful application, letting you know if there are aspects of your application you can strengthen.  Sometimes, however, the only piece of feedback might be that there were no glaring weaknesses in your file.  You may be told, “There’s nothing wrong with your file, but there wasn’t anything compelling either.”  That is not a message means to mislead or to cover up the truth.  Think about the Olympic games.  There are athletes from around the world who are the best in their sport, but only one can get the gold medal, winning often by a fraction of a second.  Does that mean that the non-winners are poor athletes?  That if they had trained longer, they would have won the medal?  No.  What is sometimes difficult to accept about a highly selective admission process is that there is an element of luck.  Remember, you can influence the process but you cannot control the outcome.


When should I start the application process?

You should visit the school websites to review and request the application materials about 12-18 months prior to intended matriculation. Most schools offer the convenience of electronic applications, do you need not wait for the mail to arrive.   This schedule assumes that you have already done your research into your school options and that you have narrowed it down to a set of four or six schools that are a good fit for you.  If you are still in the early stages, add six to nine months to the recommended schedule.


What is weighted most heavily in the evaluation process?

This will vary from school to school.  Every piece of your application is important.  Does each piece have an equal weight when reviewing an individual file or when comparing one applicant to another?  Not necessarily.  The candidate who is still in college and the candidate with the stellar grade point average will not always be chosen over a candidate with a less impressive average.   Why?  Because other factors are put into the equation:  test scores, motivation, personal qualities, etc.  It is often said that admission is more of an art than a science.  We do not admit students based on a formula, and admissions is not about admitting candidates with the highest numbers.


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