MBA Admissions Q&A: NUS Business School | TopMBA.com

MBA Admissions Q&A: NUS Business School

By Mike Grill

Updated March 23, 2021 Updated March 23, 2021

NUS Business School offers one of Asia’s most prestigious MBAs, ranking 4th in the 2014/15 QS Global 200 MBA regional ranking. As the business school of Singapore’s oldest and highest-ranked university, this should come as no surprise, with NUS an ever present in the upper echelons of global academic rankings. Of course, it never hurts to be around multidisciplinary, international talent!  

For students with an interest in finance, the appeal of low regulation Singapore (ranked as the easiest place in the world to do business by the World Bank Group) hardly needs to be spelled out. But it’s not just the financial services which give this Asian Tiger economy its appeal; its status as an Asian hub for multinationals and its proximity to China and the rising ASEAN nations cannot be underplayed.

We spoke to Chua Nan Sze Marie-Antonie, director of graduate studies at the school to find out what it takes to impress the admissions committee at this bastion of higher and business education.

What is the typical acceptance rate to the NUS MBA program? What is the  typical ratio of domestic to international students accepted into the program?

One of the strengths of the NUS MBA program is student diversity. Each cohort is highly diverse with a good balance in terms of gender, nationality, industry, roles and responsibilities. International students typically form about 90% of the NUS MBA’s full-time cohort. In the part-time NUS MBA program, about 50% are expatriates working in Singapore.

What are the most important aspects of the NUS MBA application process?

I would think that the three most important aspects of the NUS MBA application process are one’s academic achievements, career trajectory and interview performance.

What mistakes do you see applicants make?

Some applicants do not prepare enough for the MBA interview, which is a key opportunity to showcase one’s capabilities and interest. The missed opportunities include:

  • Failing to position oneself strongly when asked for an introduction
  • Not giving enough thought to post-MBA career plans
  • Not reading widely enough
  • Not being well-informed about what is happening in the world and business environment
  • Failing to capitalize on the chance to ask interviewers good questions that will indicate the applicant’s interest

What is something you would like to see applicants do more often?

I would like to see applicants better prepare their introductory spiels and ask good questions. In a nutshell, impress the interviewers.

What does the NUS application process look like?

Applicants apply online through our website at mba.nus.edu. The application form takes the typical applicant about two to three hours to complete, and includes three essays. Applicants then have to send in supporting documents such as academic transcripts, GMAT & TOEFL/IELTS scores. They also need to have two referees who can help endorse the application.

Our admissions team will shortlist high-potential applicants for interviews and after two to three weeks, the results of applications will be made known, with scholarship offers for top applicants.

What are some of the tests, official documents, and other hurdles that international students must deal with?

We require university transcripts, two referee reports, a GMAT score, and an IELTS/TOEFL score for individuals who did a non-English undergraduate degree program.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

Candidates can overcome a lower GMAT score if other aspects of their profile are strong – for instance, if they can show strong academic achievements, leadership potential, and an exceptional career trajectory, perhaps with some international experience or entrepreneurship. Or they simply ace the interview!

Admissions tips

Essay: Avoid careless spelling or grammatical mistakes.

Interview: Prepare, prepare, prepare! Position yourself powerfully to create a good first impression, do your research and prepare answers to the questions most commonly asked by business schools, and it would be good to close with one or two well thought out questions to impress your interviewers.

Letter of recommendation: Choose your referees carefully. While referees need to be in a superior position and know you well (preferably professionally), they also need to be supportive of you.

CV/Résumé: Ensure impeccable formatting, correct spelling and grammar.

School Visit: Optimize your visit. Sit and observe a class, ask to speak to current students. You could schedule to take your interview during the period of your visit. Be well dressed and make appointments in advance. Be proactive and knowledgeable, especially when dealing with the admissions team!

This article was originally published in May 2015 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Mike's remit covers content, SEO and blogger outreach. Outside of his work for TopMBA.com, he is an assistant coach for MLU outfit, the Portland Stags.

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