Application Tips

10 Insider Tips for Completing a Winning Executive MBA Application

How do you put your best foot forward as you apply to MBA programs? Follow these tips to navigate the admissions process and earn a spot at your top-choice business school.

Whether you’re fully committed or you remain unsure about earning your Executive MBA, apply for admission now. Applying sooner will offer you more time to plan and prepare for going to school while working full time. Since many EMBA programs have rolling admissions, you can apply and have your decision in hand before making a case for sponsorship, applying for financial aid, or other pre-program planning. Most programs will also allow you to defer your decision to the next academic year if things arise in your personal or professional life that makes starting school that term less than ideal.

Preferred deadlines are targets, but many candidates apply long before—and after—the deadline. We understand that candidates may need employer approval due to the schedule and commitment required of an EMBA program. This approval may come after our preferred deadline—and that’s okay. Please apply anyway. We often still have room or have seats that have opened up due to admission deferrals. 

You don’t have to be a novelist or a comedian to write a great personal statement—just be yourself. Answer the stated question in the clearest way possible, and be honest. Your personal statement should be tailored to each school you apply to. The Carlson MBA admissions team uses your personal statement to determine whether the program is a good fit for your career goals, and whether your background and experience will be an asset to fellow students in the MBA community. 

The truth is there’s no typical Carlson EMBA applicant, and it can take anywhere from 3-18 months for prospective students to explore MBA programs, talk to their employers and family, and compile/submit their application materials. Set goals and milestones that are appropriate and achievable for you. 

The majority of EMBA programs do not require test scores, although we will accept them if you feel they will strengthen your application. We are more concerned with your fit and ability to contribute to classroom discussions and team projects, which are paramount to any EMBA program. We will interview qualified candidates once their applications are close to complete. This is both our opportunity to get to know you better and your opportunity to ask us questions and see if we are a good fit for you, too.

It’s common for business schools to require MBA applicants to include letters of recommendation or professional references. Think about your network and choose people who are familiar with your work ethic, skillset, and accomplishments. These can be current or past colleagues, and they need not be supervisors or higher-level managers, with the exception that the Carlson Executive MBA requires that one must be your direct supervisor, if you have one. Your references’ job titles are less important than the capacity in which they’ve worked with you in the past. The Carlson MBA Program requires professional references in lieu of letters of recommendation, but choosing your references should follow a similar process. 

Your professional experience is extremely important to business school admissions. You should update and fine tune your résumé to best reflect your work history. Most EMBA programs (including the Carlson School) require at least six years of career experience for admittance.

Your resume should highlight a few key themes:

  • How your work has impacted your team or organization in a quantifiable way
  • How you have taken on a leadership role in a professional environment
  • How your professional experience will be an asset to your peers in the program

Building a diverse community of students is a priority for many MBA programs. Applicants who studied non-business disciplines as an undergraduate student, or who come from diverse backgrounds enrich the classroom in countless ways. If you’re a non-traditional student, highlight how you’ve used your skills to make an impact in your work. Carlson MBA admissions staff are interested in fostering diversity–in students’ mindsets, backgrounds, and experiences.

If you find yourself stuck on any component of your application, reach out to the school’s admissions staff. The admissions office is happy to help applicants navigate the process. To be connected with someone from the Carlson Executive MBA program’s admissions team, email:

If you’re not granted admission to your business school of choice, do apply again. Contact the admissions staff and ask whether there are any areas of your application that could be strengthened. The Carlson MBA makes reapplying easy: applicants must submit an updated resume and personal statement, but need not re-send test scores or personal references.

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