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15 May

MBA Application 101: What Will You Contribute to the Program?

Show Them What You’ll Bring to the Table

Completing an MBA application can seem like a daunting task. No matter how confident you are in your own ability and drive to succeed, it can be tough to think through what really distinguishes you from all of the other qualified candidates. One helpful strategy for overcoming this challenge is to imagine your MBA application not just as a list of your qualifications and achievements, but as a cohesive statement of purpose: You should not only be thinking about what an MBA program can do for you, but what you in turn intend to contribute to the MBA program itself.

Below, we’ve outlined some key tips to help you build the best possible MBA application by demonstrating the value that you’ll bring to the program.

SeattleU MBA Application

1. Highlight Your Unique Academic Background

You might be surprised to learn that MBA programs are not just looking for candidates with an undergraduate background in business or economics. Many MBA programs, like the one at Seattle University, pride themselves on building a diverse MBA cohort, and this includes diversity of experience.

Maybe you studied a humanities or liberal arts subject in college, and you want to talk about how your background in literary analysis can enhance your business communication courses. Or perhaps you’re a mechanical engineer by training and you can see how your approach to design and problem-solving can bring a new depth to discussions about product innovation. When crafting your MBA resume or personal statement, try to emphasize any part of your academic past that could be enlightening for your classmates.1

2. Make Your Experience Work for You

Work experience is a key factor in most successful MBA applications, and most MBA programs either require or prefer candidates to have at least several years of experience prior to enrolling.2 The good news is, just as was true for your academic background, your MBA application need not demonstrate an early career spent in conventional business fields like finance or marketing.

MBA admissions committees seek well-rounded individuals with a variety of strengths and perspectives that they can bring to the class discussions that highlight your MBA coursework. For this reason, “experience” need not mean “work experience” in the conventional sense; time spent volunteering in an organization like the Peace Corps, a military background, or any number of other experiences can be brought to the fore in your MBA application to demonstrate what you’ve learned by overcoming specific challenges that your classmates may never have had to even consider.

3. Emphasize Your Proactiveness

Discussion of your experience shouldn’t just be limited to where you’ve worked; it’s also about what you’ve done there. The strongest MBA applications and resumes show a documented history of accomplishments that not only help yourself, but help others in your organization as well. These can include spearheading new initiatives at your company, successfully leading major projects, proposing needed organizational changes, or any other time you’ve had a positive impact at work.3 Examples that demonstrate your drive to improve outcomes for your colleagues and peers can show an MBA admissions committee that you will be equally committed to supporting your classmates during your shared time in the program.

When you’re updating your resume to send to your MBA admissions committee, be sure to single out your major wins among the bullet points you use to describe your work experience. And if your MBA application requires a personal essay, achievements like those described above can provide a strong narrative arc.

4. Don’t Shy Away From Failure

The reality is that no one’s professional journey is an uninterrupted string of successes, and MBA admissions committees don’t expect yours to be. What they do want to see is how you respond to any challenges or setbacks you may face along the way. A personal statement or essay is a classic place to bring up a meaningful professional challenge that you’ve faced, and if your MBA program requires an admission interview, you can reasonably bet you’ll be asked about such an experience as well.

Describing lessons that you’ve learned from times in which fallen short of your goals can really add a layer of depth and thoughtfulness to an MBA application essay and can demonstrate the thirst for knowledge and desire for self-improvement that are essential for a successful graduate student. As always, be sure to focus your discussion of these key moments not just on how they’ve helped you grow as a person, but how that growth has enabled you to help those around you do the same.4


Perhaps the best approach to crafting an MBA application is not to view it as an onerous requirement, but rather as an opportunity to think critically about where you’ve come from, where you’re going, and what growth you’ve experienced along the way. This can help you not only write eloquently about how you will contribute to your MBA program, but more deeply understand your role in the success of others at the same time.

With these MBA admissions tips in mind, you’re already well on your way to a successful application to the Online MBA program from the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University. Faculty at Albers take pride in delivering a business education grounded in ethics, communication, and personal development, and they’re eager to welcome thoughtful, driven professionals who can help make the Online MBA program a success for everyone involved.


1. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from poetsandquants.com/2018/02/20/does-your-major-matter-mba-acceptance-rates-by-major/
2. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/applying/articles/2010/12/17/get-into-business-school-work-experience
3. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from jobs.telegraph.co.uk/article/how-to-highlight-your-achievements-on-your-cv/
4. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from inc.com/betty-liu/how-to-talk-about-failure-with-confidence.htm