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MBA Admissions Q&A: University of Alberta School of Business

University of Alberta School of Business

Currently ranked at 32 in the QS Global 200 MBA rankings for the US & Canada, the University of Alberta School of Business has been around for just shy of 100 years (at the time of writing!). It notably holds the distinction of being the first business in Canada to have gained AACSB accreditation in 1968. As tends to be the case with business schools attached to wider research universities, the bulk of the student body comprises of undergraduates, though with around 500 students enrolled in its various MBA programs there is no shortage of those studying at an advanced level.

We spoke to Chris Lynch, the school’s senior director of recruitment, admissions and marketing, to find out how you can give yourself the best shot of getting into the prestigious Canadian school.

What is the typical acceptance rate to the Alberta MBA program?

We typically receive four to five applications for every seat we have available in the program.  We typically accept 1.5 applications for each seat we have in the program, with 66% of accepted students taking up their places.

What are the most important aspects of the UAlberta MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?

We would look for applicants that have taken opportunities to be involved and engaged outside of school/work.  Whether that’s taking on a leadership opportunity with a student group during their undergraduate degree or being involved in a volunteer capacity while working, being active and involved in the community would help students stand out in the application process.

What is one mistake you see applicants make?

The biggest mistake we see is applicants applying to the program without a clear idea of how the MBA will help them in their career (if they need an MBA in the first place) and why the Alberta MBA is the best choice for them.  It’s a very common thing for schools to say, but taking the time to research programs and really looking for the school that aligns with your interests and goals is the most important step an individual can take to be successful with their application.

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

To tie into the answer above, I would really love to see applicants take some time to truly reflect on why they are applying to Alberta (or any other school) and be able to strongly articulate why the school is a strong fit for their goals and aspirations.

What does the Alberta Business School application process look like?

Our application is fairly similar to most other schools out there.  We make a point of interacting with and interviewing every candidate that we are considering for admission.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

While we do try and take a holistic view of all applications, it can be tough to overcome a low GMAT score.  We would look for applicants to have some demonstrated success in the areas they are lower in on their GMAT – for instance if an individual had low quant scores on the GMAT but received strong grades in a number of quant-focused courses during their undergraduate degree, we would be less concerned with their GMAT score.

Admission tips

Essay(s): Be yourself.  Don’t try and say what you think the admission committee wants to hear.

Interview: We have very informal interviews, so I would simply say don’t be too nervous or over prepare. 
Letter of recommendation: I would recommend asking individuals who have had considerable interaction with you to be references, rather than someone higher up in the organization who may not know you very well.

CV/résumé: There are a lot of different formats/templates out there, but I would recommend trying to limit your CV/Resume to 1-2 pages and focus on accomplishments rather than specific duties in each position you’ve been in.

School visit: Try to interact with as many current students and faculty as you can.  There’s no better way to get a true feel for the culture at a school than by talking to the people living it.

Written by Mike Grill

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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