Inside Scoop on the Professional MBA Application

Elizabeth Duffy MacLean, Managing Director, MBA and MFin, Masters Part-Time Programs, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Elizabeth Duffy MacLean, Former Managing Director, MBA and MFin, Masters Part-Time Programs

We often get asked, “What are the most important factors in assessing an application for a part-time MBA program? What matters most?” While, at Rotman, we really do look at each one on a case-by-case basis and assess the 7 criteria, together holistically, there are still fundamentals that can help you get a competitive edge in the application process.

  1. Your work experience is key.  Work experience is often what separates a full-time MBA applicant from an applicant for a part-time program.  Our Morning & Evening MBA applicants have an average of 6 years of experience, and want to keep working while they complete an MBA.  What we want to see in those years of experience is 1) progression, 2) a CV that focuses on results, and 3) references that support a track record (more on references in a minute).  The Admissions Committee will be looking at your work experience in the context of what it will bring to the classroom and the value of the program to you.
  2. Good communication skills are essential. You have an opportunity to showcase your communication skills in several ways.  Book a pre-qualifying meeting with our recruiting staff, so that we can get an initial sense of your ability to articulate, to listen and to clearly and concisely form your views.  A good conversation will be remembered when your file hits the recruiter’s desk.  Second, there are 3 essays that offer the opportunity to express yourself in writing.  Grammar, spelling and clear writing style is what we look for, along with a solid understanding of why an MBA makes sense for you and a level of self-awareness.  Finally, if you get to the interview stage, think about what questions you expect will be asked and how you will tell your story clearly and concisely.
  3. References matter. Your two references should be professional ones.  At least one should be a current or former boss. The references need to be able to speak to numerous attributes, many of which are work-place related.  They will be assessing your analytical skills, teamwork skills, personal integrity and the impact you’ve had within the organization, among others.  Take the time to ensure you ask your references in advance if they will be willing to be one, and tell them that specific examples are particularly valuable.

In all cases, be genuine. It will make a real difference to how you come across. And, finally, do your research before you attend a session or a pre-qualifying meeting.  An MBA is a significant investment and you want the right program in the right school.  Plus, your research will reflect a level of seriousness and maturity that is always looked upon positively.  The fundamentals discussed here also apply to other professional part-time programs like the Rotman Master of Finance.

There’s never a better time than the present to start the process!

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