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Online MBA Requirements: What to Know Before You Apply

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If you're considering going back to school for your MBA degree, it can be stressful trying to navigate the various admissions requirements of different programs. Will you have to take the GRE and submit letters of recommendation? Does it matter how old your undergraduate transcripts are? Do you need to find an old college essay to include in your application? Additionally, online MBA programs often have different (and sometimes fewer) requirements than their traditional counterparts—so how do you know what materials you need to track down and prepare when applying?

We review some of the most common online MBA requirements below to help you get your application materials in order as quickly and easily as possible.

Standard MBA Admission Requirements

While many online MBA programs don't require everything that standard programs do (see below), there are still some fundamental materials and criteria you'll want to make sure you can provide.

  • Bachelor's degree from accredited college or university – While your undergraduate degree doesn't necessarily have to be in business, you will be required to show proof of a completed bachelor's degree before being eligible to enter an MBA program.
  • Undergraduate transcripts – You'll need to have your undergraduate institution(s) either provide you with a copy of your official transcripts or send them to any schools to which you're applying (most colleges and universities will do this for a small fee). Your transcripts will include your GPA, all courses taken, and any other relevant information regarding the completion of your undergraduate degree.
  • Professional experience – Since MBA degrees are designed to help students take the next steps forward in their careers, programs may require some amount of prior experience. This will differ by program, with some preferring two to three years of work experience before you're eligible for admission. More advanced programs like Executive MBAs may require as much as seven to 10 years of prior experience. Make sure to check into the requirements (if any) for each program to which you intend to apply.
  • Current Resume – If you don't have an updated resume, you'll likely need to get one prepared to include with your application materials. Try to highlight professional experience and any relevant jobs and internships. Even if most of your prior experience is educational, emphasize the classes, projects, and extracurricular activities that are most relevant to your professional goals and accomplishments.
  • Letters of recommendation – Many programs will ask you to submit letters of recommendation from those who can speak to your professional and academic record. These could be from previous instructors, supervisors, or other professional acquaintances. (Check with the programs you intend to apply to for specific requirements.)

Online MBA Programs May Not Require...

In addition to the added flexibility of coursework, online programs often appeal to working professionals due to the added emphasis on efficiency—you can take the specific courses you need to help advance in your career while still working full-time if necessary. Many online MBA requirements reflect this attention to working, non-traditional students by looking to professional experience and current merit rather than other elements such as:

  • GRE and/or GMAT scores – Chances are most traditional programs will ask you to submit either GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) scores with your application. Online programs frequently eliminate this requirement as long as key prerequisites are met.
  • Application essay or personal statement – Some schools may require you to write a short essay in the form of a personal statement (sometimes called a statement of purpose). This piece of writing should explain why you want to be admitted into the MBA program, outline your qualifications, and detail how an advanced degree will help you achieve your professional goals. Online MBA programs do not typically require an application essay, though in cases where a personal statement is optional, it can give you the opportunity to help the admissions committee understand how and why you're a good fit for their program.
  • Admission interview – Since online programs often cater to long-distance students, you will most likely not need to visit the school for an admission interview. Certain programs may conduct phone interviews, however, so check each school's admission requirements individually.

Remember that all schools have their own application and admission criteria, so if you have any questions on what is required for a particular online MBA program, be sure to contact their admissions office for clarification.

Ready to learn more? Explore online MBA degrees at AIU.