6 Traits Top MBA Programs Look For: #1 Academic Potential

December 1st, 2012

| Last Updated on May 21, 2019

First things first… Introspection!!!
Before we even begin the actual discussion about the essential factors that B-schools look for in their applicants, let us ask ourselves a very fundamental question:
What is my ultimate goal in life?
What am I passionate about?
And the million dollar question – Why MBA?
Is the answer really worth a million dollars? Of course! The fact that MBA aspirants will be spending a considerable amount of money, time and effort (more than anticipated) for a 1 or 2 year program, makes the answer priceless. Plus, the returns that MBA aspirants hope for after graduating from a reputed B-school is a huge leap from what they will be getting sans MBA!
Though there are ‘n’ number of other fields that provide job satisfaction in terms of job profile and pay packet, MBA still rules the professional world!

But why?

Here’s a link which gives you a very thoughtful insight into why there is a mad rush behind the ‘Master of Business Administration’ degree!
Coming to the key MBA admission requirements…in this write-up I highlight the first of the 6 attributes that top Business Schools look for in MBA aspirants:

Academic Potential

Whether you like it or not, the hard fact is that academic potential is the first aspect that admissions committees assess in an applicant, and with good reason! The MBA curriculum is very rigorous and taxing and this makes it extremely crucial for the admissions committee to judge whether you can survive in that environment. Your academic potential is directly related to your competence to thrive in a business school.
Three major indicators of your Academic Potential are:
GMAT Score
Professional Certifications e.g. PMP Certification

1.  GPA (Grade Point Average):

You must have often read or heard…”What is the minimum GPA required to get an admit into a particular B-school?” GPA is a very common tool used by B-schools to assess your academic profile. A decent GPA to enter a top B-school is about 3.5. Apart from your GPA, B-Schools leave no stone unturned to scan your transcripts thoroughly to evaluate how well you’ve performed in various subjects over the years.
Similarly, exclusivity of your undergraduate school also speaks a lot about your academic caliber. Unsympathetically but practically, if you are not an IITian or an NITian, it becomes really hard for you to prove your academic potential to an international admissions committee. The other side of the coin is that if you are coming from a less-recognized school, but ranked among toppers, you still hold some chance of being picked up!
Remember, a mediocre school along with low grades is the recipe for a disastrous application. Conversely, a high GPA along with a well-recognized school makes a strong MBA application. Though the minimum GPA required may vary from school to school, usually 3.5 is considered as a decent number.
For instance, a student from IIT-Bombay with a GPA of 3.5 doesn’t need to prove his credentials to the admissions committee. It becomes implicit that he has the academic potential to sail through the MBA curriculum.

2. GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test):

No introduction is required for this either! The fact that the number of people taking GMAT is increasing at an accelerating pace, just proves how crucial the GMAT score is. This 3-digit score can make or break your chances of getting into your dream B-school.
This standardized test is a very good pointer of how well an applicant is expected to perform in his/her MBA program. A high GMAT score indicates your potential in analytical writing skills, math skills and the English language.
Though many B-schools do not explicitly specify the minimum GMAT score, a glance at the average GMAT scores of top business schools clearly indicate that the comfortable score required to get into a top B-school is a minimum of 700. 20-30 points less or more than the average GMAT score of your target school will work for you.
For instance, if the average GMAT score of a B-school is 680, even a 660 stands a fair chance. If you apply to a school where the average is 650, and you have scored 680, you have a huge advantage. So, instead of searching for the minimum GMAT score, look for the average GMAT scores of the B-schools.
Secondly, GMAT is the most important factor to decide your scholarship. The thumb rule is – the higher your GMAT score, the higher your chance of getting a winning scholarship from your dream B-school! This will definitely reduce your financial burden to a great extent. So, your GMAT score, along with other aspects of your application, forms a significant basis to assess your abilities.
A good tip is to take your GMAT while you are still doing your undergraduate studies or immediately after you graduate. This is because at this time, as you are already studying, math rules and English grammar are still fresh in your mind. Secondly, you will have more preparation time on your hands as compared to when you start working!

3. Professional Certifications:

Ok, you have a high GPA and GMAT score in your kitty! However, don’t be under the misconception that you are the only one with an impressive academic profile. There will be several other applicants giving you tough competition!
So is there anything else that differentiates you or gives you an edge over others? Yes – if you have earned a globally recognized professional certification, this will surely give you some brownie points and fulfill the MBA admission requirements, atleast academically!
For instance, a PMP certification that is…(Project Management Professional) certification is a globally recognized certification for project managers. Unlike what many people think, it is a real tough certification to earn. PMP certification enhances skills, experience and knowledge to lead and manage projects. Thus, project managers can always strengthen their MBA applications by earning such a certification as this will easily convince AdComs regarding their marketability and ability to lead projects effectively.
Next in line is the 2nd trait B-schools look for.
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