Friday, August 28, 2015 at 8am

How Much Does Applying For an MBA Cost?

MBA applications

Now that I’ve finally made it to a top business school, I wanted to reflect a little on what applying for an MBA costs for current and future applicants. No two cases are the same, but I hope it helps to give you a little information about the real and other costs associated with an MBA application at a top business schools.

GMAT

The exam fee is currently US$250; this is most likely your first MBA cost. Unless you have the list of schools you’d like to send your score to when you take your test (I didn’t) there’s an additional cost of US$28 per school to send your score report after your test date. You could also spend a small fortune on GMAT preparation textbooks, study groups, personal tuition etc. Personally I just used the Princeton Review textbook plus the free resources from GMAC (the makers of the GMAT) (including the excellent GMATPrep software) and scored a 720 in my first attempt.

MBA admission consultants

I was upfront about the fact that I worked with MBA admission consultants when preparing my MBA applications on my blog. These costs vary significantly between different companies and range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand depending how much support you need. I easily spent over $5,000 in total to get my MBA applications in top condition and then interview preparation and wait list support. 

This is really up to you of course but something you should be aware of and strongly consider early on in the process especially if you are budgeting for the many MBA costs. More information on consultants here

School MBA application fees

This is pretty self-explanatory and no big surprise. I applied to INSEAD, MIT Sloan and Wharton whose current MBA application fees range from US$250 to US$280. Applying to more than three top business schools will typically incur fees of over US$1,000! 

Travelling to interviews/school research

This was another significant MBA cost for me. I was based in Greece at the time I applied to top business schools in the US and Europe. My interviews for INSEAD were conducted with local alumni but for MIT Sloan and Wharton I had to travel to London and Paris. The total cost of flights and hotels was easily over US$1,000. 

I also travelled to MIT Sloan and Wharton to see their campus (definitely recommend this to ensure you’re applying to the right schools) as part of my research, which was another big expense. If you’re based in the country where you’re applying or you have friends or family living there then there are obvious ways to mitigate your costs/ It pays to plan ahead. 

Opportunity cost 

Now that you’re (soon-to-be) MBAs we should also think about opportunity cost -- that is, the countless hours you will spend preparing for GMAT, researching schools, writing essays etc. that could have been spent doing something else. Whether that’s working towards a promotion, keeping your body in shape or spending time with your family and close friends is up to you, but something’s got to give!

I got up an hour earlier to prepare for my GMAT exam but the applications were a lot tougher to find time for. I actually submitted one application from hospital the night my sons were born (!). My Christmas holiday was also ruined when I was writing round two applications given the early January deadlines. This ‘cost’ should not be underestimated – applying for an MBA is not for the part-timer!

So, now we’ve covered the (potential) costs of preparing and applying for your MBA it’s a good idea to reflect on the purpose of it all. I’m sure you’ve seen the comparisons between pre and post-MBA salaries on many MBA ranking websites (you can see the former here and latter here on this very website). This isn’t really my motivation but you could easily justify the time and expense of applying for an MBA based on the ROI these statistics gives you alone. For me though the motivation is a lot different…

Last week I arrived in Boston and will be setting foot on MIT Sloan’s hallowed campus next week to start my MBA journey – I finally made it! I’ve already met lots of MBA graduates, current students and future classmates as well as professors, staff and start-up CEOs who are helping me shape my new career, i.e. what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I’ve no doubt that my MBA will be a life-changing experience – it already has been and I’ve yet to take a single class!

I’ve never regretted the decision to pursue my MBA and I’m glad I got back on that horse after my five dings in 2013/14. Be warned though – only the truly committed applicant will shine through in the admissions committees’ eyes.

So, go forth with your eyes well and truly open and I’m confident you’ll do fine. Best of luck with your GMAT and/or MBA application prep!

 

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A British-born and raised guy with 12 years' experience in corporate and investment banking, most recently as a global relationship manager in the energy and commodities space. His career has allowed him to work in several European countries and with clients and other financial institutions throughout Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. Despite (or, maybe, because of!) his background and a lot of blood, sweat and tears going into my applications, he got dinged by five top US business schools in 2013/14 - but he finally managed to get accepted to MIT Sloan in 2015!

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