The Ultimate Checklist for International Applicants to US Schools

International flags

In the most recent survey from the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the US remained the top study destination for the majority of students, and was the top international destination choice in nearly every country surveyed. With that in mind, here’s our checklist for international students looking into US programs. If you’re going to apply to business schools in the US, you’ll need…

A US-style Resume

If you’re applying to a US program, you’re probably better off using the traditional US resume format rather than a skills-based CV.

Excellent Essays

Well-written essays are essential for international students who wish to stand out from the crowd. If possible, ask a friend or advisor proofread your essays for mistakes or awkward wording.

GMAT/GRE Scores 

The GMAT is the traditional option for business school applicants, but the GRE (which is used for other graduate programs in the US and Canada) is gaining popularity. Fair warning, the GRE is heavier on verbal questions, so most international students are better off with the GMAT.

High-Quality Recommendations

When it comes to recommendations, it’s better to pick a manager who can (and will) sing your praises rather than a CEO who has only met you twice. Application readers aren’t impressed by names or job titles, nor are they impressed by the number of recommendation letters you submit. Make sure your recommenders have an idea of the format of US recommendation letters, and show them examples if necessary.

Official Academic Records

You’ll need an official transcript from your undergraduate or post-secondary program. Sending a transcript can sometimes take weeks or even months, so make sure you tackle this early.

An Understanding of Visa Issues

Though admission to business school usually entitles you to a student visa, the restrictions vary by country, you should always do a little bit of research into the immigration procedures for a student visa. Once you’re admitted, the school will be able to help as well.

Financial Readiness

 Most MBA programs don’t offer scholarships or grants to foreign students, so you’ll need to make sure you can pay the full price. If your employer is paying, you should work out the details once you’ve been admitted.

Evidence of English Proficiency

Most business schools will ask foreign students to take the TOEFL as part of their application, though the TOEFL can sometimes be waived in lieu of other proof of proficiency.

Cultural Understanding

If accepted, you’ll be in a new environment and culture. Do a little research into US educational styles, as well as the academic and social culture at the business schools to which you’re applying.

An Open Mind

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to stay in their comfort zone, international programs probably aren’t for you. Attending business school in another country can broaden your worldview and build your professional and non-professional skills. It can even open up unexpected career avenues.