Thinking about studying a business degree but don’t feel clued up enough to take the initial steps? Take a look at our business school application FAQs (frequently asked questions), to find answers to some of the most common questions asked by students thinking of applying to business school.
We’ve covered everything from business school admissions requirements to specialized degrees, language tests to costs. Simply click on the question below to find out more.
There are a plethora of courses on offer at business schools, and not all of these are specifically business degrees. The following list offers some examples of the types of subjects covered at business schools around the world:
- Business Administration (link goes to TopMBA.com)
- Business Management
- Business Technology
- Economics and Econometrics
- Human Resources
- International Business
- Management Sciences
- Project Management
- Public Relations
Some business schools may offer the option of taking a joint degree, allowing you to study two of the subjects listed above. Some even provide programs which combine bachelor’s and master’s levels, allowing you to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree with four or five years of full-time study. Schools offering these programs will list them on their websites and/or in their prospectus.
For more information about studying a specialized master’s in business administration, please see our sister site TopMBA.com for program guides.
Often undergraduate degrees are not offered, as business schools are largely set up to cater to graduate students. As always, however, there are exceptions to this rule, such as joint honors degrees that combine study at a main university with some modules taught at the business school. For more information on whether a particular school offers any undergraduate-level courses, contact the admissions office or look on the website.
Although business school admissions requirements vary, the majority of schools will ask for a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university. Most top business schools are likely to expect at least a high second-class degree (2:1 in the UK grading system) at undergraduate level, but again this varies between institutions. See the program details on your chosen school’s website for specific information about academic requirements.
In addition to a degree qualification, many business schools will also ask for the following:
- Academic transcripts from your university or college
- Proof of English-language proficiency (e.g. IELTS/TOEFL)
- Graduate admissions test results (e.g. GMAT/GRE)
For more information about language tests, please skip to question five. For more information on business school admissions tests such as the GMAT and GRE, see question seven.
When applying to business school as an international student, it’s likely your qualifications may be different to those completed in the country you hope to study in. However, top business schools across the world accept a wide range of international qualifications. Usually you’ll find that if your qualification enables you to study at postgraduate level in your home country, it will be similarly recognized elsewhere. In order to ensure your qualification is accepted, take a look at the guidance on your chosen school’s website about which qualifications they accept. If still unsure, contact the school directly.
If the country you wish to study in uses English as the language of instruction and you are not a native English speaker, you will be expected to provide the results of an English-language test such as IELTS or TOEFL when applying to business school.
If you’re a confident English speaker and have acceptable written English, then passing an English-language text should be a breeze. Nonetheless, most top business schools will make this an admission requirement for all applicants who are not native speakers, and/or who have not already completed a degree taught in English.
- Essential IELTS Vocabulary Tips
- IELTS: The Basics
- IELTS: What to Expect
- TOEFL: The Basics
- TOEFL: What to Expect
- University Admissions: English Language Tests
- Which English Test Should I Take?
Although some schools offer a small amount of leeway with their entry requirements, it is unlikely they will accept a lower language test result. This is because a solid knowledge of the language of instruction is very important for students to be able to progress through the course in written assignments, case studies and group projects.
If you’re applying to study a specialized master’s program or MBA, it’s likely you’ll need to take an admissions test, designed to show you have the quantitative and analytical skills needed to study business at postgraduate level. A selection of internationally recognized business school admissions tests are available, but the two most widely used are the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) and the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), both of which have test centers around the world.
- Graduate Admissions Tests at a Glance
- Preparing for Graduate Admissions Tests
- Understanding Your GMAT Score
- What GRE Scores Do You Need?
The GRE is currently priced at US$195 worldwide (+ fees for any additional services) while the GMAT is slightly more at US$250 worldwide.
Before applying to take a test, you should check the specific admission requirements set by your chosen school, and ensure the test you intend to take is recognized. This will save you paying to take a test you may not need or that will not be sufficient.
The application process varies dramatically depending on the country and place of study. To identify the exact process for your chosen school, make sure to read all the resources available on the institution’s website. Generally, however, you are likely to be able to download an application form from the school’s own website, which is then submitted online, along with all your supporting documentation and test results.
Although every business school will have its own application system, the majority of schools now accept online applications. This may make your life easier than in the days of hand-written applications, but you will still need to prepare supporting documents. Many schools ask for a selection of the following:
- Statement of purpose
- Academic transcript and degree certificate
- Academic references
- Proof of English-language proficiency
- Admission test results
- Copy of passport
Your application isn’t just a collection of academic documents. It is your chance to define your motivations, your suitability for business school, and what you think you can offer the program as well as what you hope to gain. These points should be covered in your statement of purpose; for more guidance, see the related articles below.
- Grad School Application Tips
- University Applications and Admissions: Expert Advice
- What you Need to Apply for Grad School
Many top business schools charge a fee for every application, to ensure that only those who are really serious about the program apply. This fee is usually no more than US$100.
Again, this depends on the business school you’re applying to, but it’s not uncommon to be invited for an interview after submitting your application. If you live abroad and getting to the school is a problem, you may have the option to set up a video interview instead.
For programs such as an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) it is very likely you will be asked to show at least several years’ experience of working in a business environment. For some other specialized master’s degrees, however, this is not the case. Work experience requirements should be included in the admissions requirements listed by each school.
This depends on the school you’re dealing with, but often if you’re due to complete your degree in the next few months, you can apply for a business school program without a degree certificate. Check with the school in question, and include the transcripts of your grades and module results to date in your application.
In the case of pending English-language test results, many schools will still process your application, but won’t offer you a place until you submit proof of your English ability. Make sure to include details of when you expect to receive your results within the application.
Many schools offer the chance to defer entry, after gaining admission. Deferring entry may come at a price, however; at top business schools expect to pay a reservation fee of between US$500-US$1,500.
In some countries it is common to have an age restriction on higher education programs. But in most cases, as long as you have the required experience (often a minimum of three years of undergraduate study plus any required work experience) and meet all other requirements, there is no upper or lower age restriction.
Programs such as an MBA or other highly specialized business degree will be markedly more expensive compared to other postgraduate degrees. But the majority of degrees offered at business school, such as an MA or MSc qualification, will charge tuition fees similar to the regular postgraduate fees offered at the main university. For information on tuition fees for specific programs, contact the business school or check the website.
As fees to study at top business schools are not cheap, there is a wide range of funding opportunities available. Your first port of call for funding and scholarship information should be your chosen school’s website. Often you’ll find information about various funding options, fellowships and scholarships with details on how to apply. For external funding information, you should consider governmental funding schemes, either from your home country or the country in which you wish to study. Funding may also be available from external organizations in the form of scholarships, sponsorships and loans.
If you have any further general questions about business school applications, please ask us in the comments below or in our international student forum. For more specific questions related to particular programs and schools, contact the business school’s admissions team directly.
For more information about applying to business school, different types of business degree, specializations, costs, funding and careers, take a look at the resources below.