MBA Admissions Q&A: University of St.Gallen

University of St.Gallen MBA admissions interview

Switzerland is one of the world’s most popular MBA destinations among applicants, lying ahead of Singapore and the Netherlands among the 10 most-favored study locations among respondents to the QS Applicant Survey 2015.

So, following on from last week’s insight into the MBA admissions process at IMD, this week TopMBA turns to another of Switzerland’s finest providers of an MBA degree, the University of St.Gallen (HSG).

In this interview Q&A Vinzent Ehrat, recruitment manager at St.Gallen, offers some advice for those interested in joining the school’s MBA program. In particular, Ehrat points out that the GMAT is worth around 10% of an overall admissions decision, making it more than possible to make up for an unexceptional score elsewhere in the application process. He also underlines the value in really getting to know and understanding what the St.Gallen MBA can offer your individual circumstances and ambitions before you apply. Read on to find out more…  

Recruitment manager at St.Gallen, Vinzent EhratWhat is the typical acceptance rate to the University of St.Gallen MBA program? What is a typical ratio of domestic to international students accepted into the program?

Acceptance rate is usually below one in five from all completed applications received. Our MBA classes are a highly diverse mix of nationalities, functions and industries. For instance, our 12 month full-time MBA program usually has over 80% international students.

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

We assess candidates holistically and we want to give each applicant the opportunity to demonstrate his or her full potential. This is achieved not only by handing in essays, references and transcripts, but also by giving us a sense of personality and values, which can be conveyed during the recorded video response section and the face-to-face interview section of the application process. 

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

One mistake that applicants make is applying without fully understanding the features and benefits that define our MBA experience and culture. A visit to one of our classes, or a meeting with one of our staff members, alumni or current students prior to applying, helps candidates author a better motivation essay and perform more confidently during the interview.

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

Don’t just focus on getting into your dream MBA program. Think about what you would like to gain during and after your MBA experience. Overall, applications should display a higher level of critical thinking about which MBA program will best serve their goals. We strongly encourage candidates to contact one of our recruitment managers prior to applying, in order to find out if our MBA program matches their MBA goals, as we often recommend applicants whose goals are not well matched to consider focusing on alternative programs.

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

The assessment criteria are the same for all candidates. One of the support services we provide to incoming MBA students is handling their visa application and actively supporting them with their accommodation search. International students are also eligible to profit from special tariffs on health insurance.


How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

There is no minimum GMAT requirement for the MBA. The GMAT accounts for around 10% of the overall admissions decision so an applicant with a strong all-round profile will be able to make up for a weaker GMAT score in other areas.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Read through the essay questions carefully and answer all components of the question. Structure your essay carefully, so that we can see your lines of thought. Make sure your essays are honest and genuine. Don’t try to give us what we ‘want’ to hear; be you.

Interview: Prepare yourself to give examples of past experiences; stay yourself, try to give precise and structured answers.

Letter(s) of recommendation: Ask your current or past superior if we can contact him or her. You can simply leave his or her contact details in the application and we will reach out to this person directly.

CV/résumé: Don’t just list your job titles, but explain what you achieved. We want to understand your performance, not your scope of responsibilities.


School visit: Either contact us in advance or sign up for a visit on the website. A visit will give you the chance to feel the atmosphere and speak to current students. This is a really helpful way to find out if you can picture yourself being part of a future class.

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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