If you’re looking for the best MBA programs in the US, then you’ve come to the right place. The best programs are competitive, which means you will need to review to improve your chances of getting accepted. Aside from knowing the admissions requirements, you will also want to make sure that the programs you apply to align with what you’re looking to gain from an MBA program. In this article, we list some of the and describe the program highlights, admissions statistics, and most importantly, how to get in. Going through each school and program in detail will also help you learn .
When you’re researching what programs to apply for, you need to look at what the programs offer. It’s also important to consider and to find out how competitive a program is, and what admissions requirements the program lists. Choosing the best program for you requires a long process of deliberation. You might, for instance, value location, research opportunities, tuition costs, or certain aspects of student life more than other factors. In any case, determining what’s best for you is subjective and will require extensive research. The following list of programs are offered by business schools associated with each university. You will encounter a variety of MBA programs with different concentration or dual-degree options.
Let’s take a look at some of the top-ranked programs in more detail:
Chicago Booth School of Business
Acceptance rate: 14.3%
Median GPA: 3.6
GMAT average: 729
GRE average: 163 (verbal) 164 (quant)
Program overview: The University of Chicago MBA program focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to business classes, such as managerial psychology, financial accounting, statistics, and microeconomics. The Chicago Booth School of Business offers three MBA programs: full-time, part-time, and the Executive MBA. Joint degree and certificate programs are offered to students in the full-time MBA program. A few of these joint programs include JD/MBA, JD/Master of Arts in Eastern European and Russian Eurasian Studies, MBA/Master of Arts in International Relations. Students in the Evening or Weekend MBA program can enroll as a joint-degree student in the Master of Computer Science. Students in the MBA Full-Time, Part-Time, Weekend, and Evening program can also choose to concentrate in the following subjects: accounting, analytic finance, behavioral science, business analytics, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, and more. Elective courses include new product development, portfolio management, technology strategy, investments, and others.
Admissions requirements: To apply for this program, you must have an undergraduate degree. You must also complete the GRE or the GMAT examinations. This program evaluates applicants using information from three categories: curriculum, community, and career. In the curriculum category, applicants should display evidence of academic preparedness, an interest in current affairs, and strong academic performance. In the community category, applicants should display evidence of leadership, collaboration, and interpersonal skills. In the career section, applicants should demonstrate a track record of success, good time management skills, and a sense of direction.
The Chicago Approach: The Chicago Approach uses a multidisciplinary framework to empower students to address any business challenge in any industry anywhere in the world. The approach seeks to provide a strong foundation in economics, accounting, psychology, sociology, and statistics.
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Acceptance rate: 13.9%
Median GPA: 3.6
GMA average: 733
GRE average: 162 (verbal) 162 (quant)
Program overview: The core curriculum of the MBA program focuses on developing leadership, communication, and analytical skills to prepare students for a successful career in business. Program format options include full-time, part-time, executive, and . Students may choose to specialize in accounting, finance, healthcare management, insurance and health management, real estate, and others. Students can also pursue a dual degree that can earn them a Master of Arts (MA) or Juris Doctor (JD) in a variety of subjects. Students must follow a mandatory fixed course curriculum, including foundations of teamwork and leadership, marketing management, and microeconomics for managers. Some of the electives that students can take include communication, accounting, and corporate finance. Students will collaborate closely with their peers in small groups as they navigate the first term. Students will also engage in extracurricular activities connected with their courses starting in their first year.
Admissions requirements: To apply, you must submit background information that includes academic records from all institutions starting in high school. You must also provide evidence of professional experience and family information, which you may submit in the form of an . All applicants will answer two essay questions: “how do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your professional goals?” and “how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community?” If you’re wondering , you can also choose to submit an optional essay. You must also submit two letters of recommendation. In the first section of the letter, referees will have to choose two characteristics from a list of ten that best describe the candidate they are recommending. In the second section, referees must answer two questions about why they think the applicant will be successful in the program and their career. Lastly, students must also complete either the GMAT or GRE.
Give and take: The key to success, according to the Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant, is a focus on interactions and helping others. Students will inherit this approach in their education during the MBA program and apply it to their future careers.
Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Acceptance rate: N/A
Median GPA: 3.7
GRE average: 162 GRE (verbal) 163 GRE (quant)
Program overview: The MBA program at Northwestern University offers a one-year and a two-year MBA program. Prerequisite courses that must be complete prior to the start of the summer quarter include statistics, economics, marketing, and operations. The one-year option gives students a chance to bypass certain courses and take more electives in the flexibly formatted curriculum. The defining aspect of the two-year program is its intention to produce strong leaders in the field of business by combining theory-based practice with hands-on experience. Examples of core curriculum options include business analytics, microeconomics, operations management, and leadership in organizations. Students can choose from eight different majors: accounting, economics, finance, marketing, operations, strategy, managing organizations, and management science. Note that you don’t have to choose a major but having one can improve your career prospects if you’re interested in a specific path. More advanced program options include the Executive MBA, the Executive Education, and the MS in Management Studies.
Admissions requirements: On its website, Kellogg mentions that they desire applicants who possess intellectual ability, work experience, professional goals, leadership, impact, and interpersonal skills. You must submit a resume, transcripts, either a GMAT or GRE examination score, two letters of recommendation, and two written essays responding to two prompts: “provide an example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value” and “what values are important to you and how have they influenced you?” There may be a variety of , depending on which program you apply to, in which you discuss your experience, post-MBA goals, and how Kellogg will help you achieve those goals.
The Kellogg experience: Collaboration is the cornerstone of the Kellogg experience. Kellogg recognizes the need to be a leader and a team player in today’s shifting business world, and students can expect to hone these traits that converge on empathy and a sense of purpose.
Writing an MBA statement of purpose? Check out this guide on how to write one.
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Acceptance rate: 5.8%
Median GPA: 3.78
GRE average: 165 GRE (verbal) 165 (quant)
Program overview: The MBA curriculum spans two years. During the first year, students will start to develop foundational knowledge and management skills while broadening their global perspective. Unlike most other MBA programs, Stanford’s second year allows students to take entirely elective courses to explore areas of interest and develop their expertise in those specific areas. Students can also choose to enroll in a joint degree, such as the JD/MBA, MA Education/MBA, MS Computer Science/MBA, and others. One of their most popular dual degrees is the MD/MBA.
Admissions requirements: In its evaluation criteria, Stanford mentions that they look at how applicants think, how they lead, and how they see the world. They want candidates who can contribute unique perspectives to their program and solve challenging problems using innovative strategies. To apply, you must submit your transcript with GPA scores from all attended institutions, either GMAT or GRE examination scores, and personal information including activities and interests. Your application should also include professional experience, two letters of recommendation, and two essays that discuss what matters most to you and why you chose to apply to Stanford. There is also an opportunity for applicants to submit an optional short answer response discussing the impact you’ve had in a professional, extracurricular, academic, or other setting. If you’re wondering you can visit your school’s website where they post student club information and events.
Diversity in learning, diversity in people: The Stanford Graduate School of Business uses an adaptable framework of methods, approaches, and experiences to create a learning environment tailored to each individual.
Harvard Business School
Acceptance rate: 12.3%
Median GPA: 3.70
GRE: 163 (verbal) 163 (quant)
Program overview: MBA program differs from most other top MBA programs in its large class sizes. They believe that having large classes will provide students with an opportunity to thoroughly network with their peers. The program is split into two years, with the first comprising three semesters including the summer, and the second comprising just two semesters. The summer semester is designed specifically for students to gain relevant work experience, either in an established organization or by launching their own venture. Examples of mandatory coursework include financial reporting and control, technology and operations management, and marketing. In year two, students can choose from a wide range of electives and cross-register into other graduate programs if they want to. The goal of this program is to endow students with an entrepreneurial mindset and the tools and expertise to thrive in their business careers. Harvard collaborates with other Harvard schools to offer a variety of joint-degree programs. Some of these programs include the MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program, JD/MBA, MD/MBA, MBA/MPP Master of Public Policy, and others.
Admissions requirements: According to Harvard Business School, they are looking for applicants who show strong leadership skills, are engaged in the community, and have a developed analytical sense. To apply, students must submit a written application that includes transcripts, GMAT/GRE examination scores, proof of English proficiency if applicable, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and an essay that answers the following question: “what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?” You can approach this question the same way you would an or an and focus on relating aspects of your attraction to the program and what you can bring to it as a candidate.
Global impact leadership: The goal of the Harvard Business School MBA is to prepare students to become leaders in their fields who have an impact on a global scale.
Yale School of Management
Acceptance rate: N/A
Median GPA: 3.69
GRE: 166 (verbal) 165 (quant)
Program overview: The Yale School of Management divides courses into two distinct categories, starting with Orientation to Management. This course package comprises a series of foundational courses that teach the basics of economics, managing teams, and accounting. The Organizational Perspective course package draws on the foundations gained from the first curriculum package and includes a rigorous exploration of various business constituents, including competition, investments, customers, sourcing and managing funds, state and society, and global macroeconomy. The program hosts various student clubs and extracurriculars to provide students with additional opportunities to develop leadership skills. The Yale School of Management also offers several other advanced programs, including the Master of Advanced Management, Master in Asset Management, Master in Systemic Risk, and more. Joint-degree options include the MBA/JD, MBA/MD, MBA/Master in Asset Management, and others.
Admissions requirements: To apply to this program, you must submit an academic record from a completed bachelor’s degree program, complete either the GMAT or GRE, submit two letters of recommendation, include a resume, have a minimum of seven years of post-undergraduate full-time work experience, and submit two essays that address your motivation for applying to an Executive MBA program at this point in your career and why you selected the area of focus you did. You must also cite a statistic that you find shocking as part of your two mandatory essays. The optional prompt asks you to discuss an aspect of your candidacy that you want admissions to know about.
Better leaders, better businesses and societies: The Yale SOM experience is all about building strong leaders with the tools they need to develop better businesses for the improvement of society.
Columbia Business School
Acceptance rate: 22.1%
Enrollment rate: 13.7%
Median GPA: 3.6
Program overview: The Columbia Business School MBA program is interdisciplinary and focuses on providing students with a strong foundation in all relevant disciplines. In the first term, students will complete courses in financial accounting, corporate finance, managerial statistics, business analytics, marketing, global economic environment, and more. In the second term, students will only have one mandatory course in operations management, along with other elective courses to fill their requirements. Popular electives include pandemic economy, analytics in action, and innovation using design thinking. Students have the option of pursuing a dual degree in architecture, public health, nursing, engineering and applied science, and others. Students can also choose a focus in either decision and risk analysis, or operations management.
Admissions requirements: To apply for this program, students must submit transcripts with GPA, GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, a written answer to the question “what is your immediate post-MBA professional goal?”, three mandatory , and one letter of recommendation. If you’re a reapplicant, you must submit two letters of recommendation. In essay one, applicants must address their career goals and dream job. In the second essay, students will discuss why they think Columbia is a good fit for them, and in the final essay, describe a favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with them.
The Columbia advantage: The Columbia School of Business brings together theory and experience by utilizing board rooms, trading floors, and retail stores in externships and internships.
This video will walk you through what the MBA interview is like:
Getting accepted into the best MBA programs in the US is no easy feat. Each program has strict application requirements that applicants must adhere to if they want to be considered for enrollment. You can take information from each program’s recent class profiles to determine the scores you should be aiming for in your GMAT or GRE, along with your GPA and other non-academic characteristics.
Let’s take a look at the admissions requirements in more detail and how you should approach them to get accepted:
GPA is one of the most essential aspects of your appeal as a candidate. Your GPA tells a program how motivated, dedicated, and effective you are. Some programs don’t require a minimum GPA to consider applicants, while others do. Recent class profiles show the average GPA of admitted applicants, which indicates what you should aim for as a minimum. You should report your GPA as it appears on your transcript to avoid any potential discrepancies.
The reason GPA is such a strong determinant of applicant success is that it implies a certain level of academic readiness, professionalism, and other qualitative traits like communication and effective study habits. To put yourself in the best position to succeed in this aspect of your application, you will want to aim above the median GPA of the most recent class profile of the program you’re applying to. This way, you can show admissions that you can exceed expectations and that you excel in this regard. If you’re still in the process of completing your undergrad, you can meet with a tutor or speak with your instructors to maintain and increase your GPA.
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a test that assesses an applicant’s analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills. MBA programs use this type of exam to determine if applicants have the skills to not only qualify but succeed in an MBA program. The exam lasts three hours and seven minutes. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is another entry exam that assesses the ability to analyze written materials, perform basic math, think critically, and problem-solve. Test-takers will receive three scores in analytical reasoning, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The reason most business schools accept the GRE as an admissions requirement is that it can verify academic preparedness for an MBA program.
To prepare for the standardized test of your choosing, you should look at the section overviews on each test and practice questions for each. You should also take a variety of mock tests to get familiar with the test format and questions you can expect. Give yourself two or three months to prepare. The more quality time you take to study, the higher your chances of scoring in the highest percentile.
All the best MBA programs in the US require one or more admissions essays as part of the application. Admissions essays give the applicant a chance to show their personality, motivation for wanting to pursue an MBA program, career goals, and how they think the school and program can help them achieve those goals. Before you start writing your admissions essay(s), read the instructions that the school provides carefully. Take note of any formatting requirements. For example, Columbia Business School requires three essays; the first should not exceed 500 words, the second 300, and the third 250. Yale School of Management asks that you address why you chose your area of focus within the program. Other schools will ask different questions or variations of the ones mentioned. Essays will ask you to address a very specific admissions prompt or question, so be sure to answer each part of the question in an organized and concise manner.
Here are some common essay questions that schools will ask:
You can also learn through your admissions essays. Optional essays are almost universally designed to allow applicants to discuss any aspects of their candidacy that they think admissions should know. We encourage you to answer optional essays whenever possible to help make your application stand out, unless the rules or requirements state otherwise. However, if you have any gaps in employment, inconsistent scores on your transcript, or any additional information you think can convince admissions that you’re an ideal candidate, writing the optional essay(s) is essential.
Letters of Recommendation
Your MBA letters of recommendation should be present in your application to corroborate the evidence in your materials that show you’re a strong candidate. Most schools will require that you submit two letters of recommendation. Some schools, such as Columbia Business School, require just one for regular applicants but two for reapplicants. Most of the best schools don’t require that your letters come from a specific person, but the best referees tend to be professors, someone you worked closely with, or an extracurricular supervisor. You want your referees to know you well so they can discuss why they think you’re a good candidate with proof from their interactions with you.
Like admissions essays, letters of recommendation will have specific formatting requirements. Take the Wharton MBA program, for example. They require referees to pick two characteristics from a list of ten to expound on in the first section of the letter, and then answer two questions about why they think the applicant will be successful in the program and in their career. Every school will have different formatting requirements, so make sure you read the instructions thoroughly and discuss this with the referees you request a letter from. Communicate these formatting requirements and any specific prompts they must address in written format so that they can refer to them as they write. You can check out to help you write your own.
1. What are some of the best MBA programs in the US?
There are many strong programs, but a few of the best are found at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford.
2. What GPA do I need to get accepted into one of the best MBA programs in the US?
Most programs don’t have a GPA cutoff, but you can refer to the most recent class profiles for the program you’re applying for to find out what their median GPA was. You should aim above this score, which tends to be around 3.7.
3. Should I take the GMAT or GRE?
Most schools will accept either the GMAT or GRE, but you must choose at least one.
4. What is a good GMAT and GRE score?
According to recent class profiles, most of the best programs had an average of around 165 for the GMAT and 162 for both parts of the GRE.
5. Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
Strong options tend to be professors or supervisors in a work or volunteering setting.
6. Should I have work experience on my resume?
Most MBA programs have a work minimum for entry into one of their programs. For example, incoming students at Yale School of Management have an average of five years of work experience, and seven years of relevant work experience for their Executive MBA program.
7. How do I prepare for an interview?
8. Should I write the optional essay?
We recommend submitting the optional essay in most cases, but especially if you have any gaps in your employment, academic records, or standardized exam scores. You may also choose to write an optional essay if you have any relevant information about your background that you think is important to mention.