What Does Columbia Business School Look For In MBA Applicants?


Situated in the heart of New York City, Columbia Business School is on the shortlist of many prospective MBA candidates each application cycle. Regardless of whether you are applying to the school’s two-year MBA program, J-term MBA program, or Executive MBA program, the qualities that Columbia seeks from its applicants are the same. These include showing a demonstrated passion for being “at the very center of business,” professional and community leadership, and a robust analytical skillset.


Demonstrated passion for being "at the very center of business"


As an applicant, what does it mean for you to be “at the very center of business?” Columbia seeks to understand this from each and every candidate. As a result, it is imperative that you do your research to convey not only your fit with the school (which is a given) but also with New York City. In other words, why is being both at Columbia and in New York City so important when it comes to attaining your post-MBA career goals? As you formulate your response to this question, make sure to learn about the school via its website, through webinars and MBA conferences, and by speaking with students and alumni. Your passion and enthusiasm for pursuing your MBA in such a unique environment needs to be evident in your essays and interviews. When deciding between two candidates, this can often be a deciding factor for the Admissions Committee.


Professional and community leadership


Being able to demonstrate leadership should come as no surprise; this quality is extremely important to all of the top-tier MBA programs. And as we’ve pointed out with other top-tier MBA programs, leadership across both your professional and community endeavors is what Columbia also values highly. Through projects and initiatives that you have led, both in the workplace and through your extracurricular activities, how have you positively made a difference to people and organizations? Columbia will seek evidence of your leadership through your resume, essays, and recommendation letters to determine whether you will exhibit leadership both as a student on campus as well as in your post-MBA career.


Robust analytical skillset


Having strong analytical skills is extremely important for Columbia given the rigor of the curriculum, which will require being comfortable with numbers and running analyses. Similar to other top-tier MBA programs, Columbia assesses a candidate's analytical and quantitative prowess in multiple ways – undergraduate GPA, GMAT/GRE score, and professional work experience. Recommenders can also emphasize an applicant's analytical and quantitative skills through their recommendation letters. Interestingly, with Columbia, we have increasingly been seeing candidates with weaker GMAT/GRE scores (especially on the quant side) whom the school really likes being placed on the waitlist. Many times, retaking the GMAT/GRE with a higher quant score has resulted in these applicants being taken off the waitlist and admitted. As a result, the quant “stats” are very important in order to be competitive in the applicant pool at Columbia.


Draw upon this knowledge to put together a compelling application for Columbia’s MBA program that resonates with the Admissions Committee!

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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Ivy Groupe's philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Ivy Groupe’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.

Click on the links to learn more about our company and how you can work with us to maximize your chances of gaining admission to the MBA programs of your choice.

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