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International MBA Applicants

International students typically make up 25% to 30% of MBA programs at top U.S. business schools. Students come primarily from Europe and the Far East: Japan, China, South Korea, India, Malaysia and Taiwan. Recently, the number of Latin American students has been increasing. An American MBA is appealing to most foreign students because in their home countries there are few graduate business schools with the high reputation of the American business schools.

When applying to business school, international students should be aware of the following:


International students are generally expected to meet the same admissions standards as other applicants. One of the primary admissions concerns regarding international students is their ability to speak English. The admissions committee wants to see evidence that a foreign applicant will be able to participate in class discussions, work with a group and write assignments. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required by U.S. business schools to measure an international applicant's proficiency in English.

The TOEFL consists of three sections: (1) Listening Comprehension; (2) Structure and Written Expression; (3) Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension. There are two formats of the test: the original paper format and the new computer format. The paper format is scored on a scale from 200 to 677. The computer test is scored on a different scale where 300 is the best possible score.

You may find out more about the TOEFL or register for it by contacting the Educational Testing Service (ETS):
Phone:   +1 (609) 951-1100
Website:   www.toefl.org


The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is also required for all applicants. The GMAT is only offered in English and may only be taken once per calendar month. Click here for additional information about the GMAT.

Bachelor's Degree and Transcripts

The majority of top U.S. MBA programs require that students have an education that is equivalent to an American bachelor's degree. Check the websites of each business school you are interested in to see what level of education from your country is deemed acceptable. If you are not able to find the information on the business school's website or you have questions, we recommend emailing the business school's admissions office.

Most U.S. business schools also require transcripts to be translated into English. The translations should also be officially notarized. Again, it will be necessary to find out the requirements of each business school that you are considering.

In addition, the grading system in your country may not be familiar to the admissions officers. To help them understand the competitiveness of your university, it is helpful to send an explanation of the grading system. Providing information about the percentage of students who typically earn each grade will also help put your accomplishments in perspective.


The majority of the top business schools requires or strongly recommends that applicants interview with an alumni, current student or an admissions officer. Before interviewing - whether over the phone or in person - be sure to make yourself aware of U.S. cultural norms. If possible, try to discuss U.S. business and conversation customs with an American or someone who has lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time. If you do not have the opportunity to speak to someone, we recommend purchasing a book to learn about proper American etiquette, which is likely to be different from what you are used to. If English is not your first language, it will also be helpful for you to practice your idiomatic English with a native speaker who can provide feedback and inform you about correct usage.

Resources for International Students

International students may purchase several helpful books from the Institute of International Education including English Language and Orientation Programs in the United States ($2.95) and Funding for U.S. Study: A Guide for Foreign Nationals ($39.98):

  Institute of International Education
  809 United Nations Plaza
  New York, NY 10017

You may also consider contacting the United States Information Service, a government agency housed in most American consulates around the world. Many of these offices offer advisory services and have libraries with books about life in the United States and student life.

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