Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.2
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31

How Indian Applicants Can Get Into A Top MBA Program

A student in a class at the Indian School of Business

A student in a class at the Indian School of Business

If you are reading this, you are most likely a candidate from India who is wondering what you need to be working on now to maximize your chance for admissions success to top MBA programs next season and beyond.

You are not alone. According to GMAC’s Profile of GMAT® Testing: Citizenship Report, Five-Year Summary, TY2011–TY2015, the largest applicant pool to MBA programs outside of the United States comes from India. Indian citizens comprise approximately 12% of the global GMAC testing pool, while approximately 68,000 Indian citizens sent scores to MBA programs this past year.

Given the strong prospects for MBA graduates all over the world, it is not surprising that there has been a surge in international candidates to top MBA programs, especially from India. Indian applicants routinely cite the need to gain global exposure and grow beyond technical positions, looking to the MBA to fill in the gaps. Additionally, a recent boom in Indian MBA programs has led to increased competition in the job market, giving those who graduate with a global MBA a distinct advantage.

Because the candidate pool is more competitive than ever, it is important to start early to develop and differentiate your candidacy for top MBA programs. Based on our extensive experience at Stratus Admissions Counseling working with Indian candidates who have achieved their dream of studying at a world-class MBA program—from Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management to London Business School and INSEAD—here are our top admissions strategies:

Beat the GMAT

Although a high GMAT score is not a requirement for admission, to be as competitive as possible, we advise our clients to work with a private tutor to increase their scores to competitive levels, which in many cases is in the 700s. Once your score passes a level where it is above the school average (ideally by twenty points), there is no need to continue focusing on improving your score. You should then focus on strengthening other elements of the application.

Recently I had a client from India with a GMAT score in the 600s who was admitted to Harvard Business School. This client emphasized his significant leadership experiences through extracurricular achievements with his alma mater, including international collaboration. In contrast, another client had her application put on hold by Columbia Business School until they submitted a GMAT score that was above the 715 average. Thus, a GMAT score by itself won’t necessarily make or break your candidacy, but a competitive score does help maximize your chance of success.

Broaden your Mix

The second key is to apply to a good mix of programs. I encourage candidates to look all around the world and develop a school selection strategy. Indian candidates should apply to between six and 10 schools per round to give yourself an appropriate amount of stretch, target and safety options. Look beyond the U.S. and consider great programs in other parts of the world, including the new Asia School of Business in Malaysia and University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School. Another recent Indian client applied to eight top programs, was admitted to five, and was awarded a $100,000 merit-based scholarship from a top-five program on the strength of the application, which focused on the his authentic passions, personal growth experiences and fit with the program.

I also always advise clients to apply in the round in which their application is the strongest. If you are ready to hit submit, Round 1 will have the greatest number of seats, as well as scholarship funds, available. If you are willing to commit to a program such as Fuqua or CBS, apply in the early decision round to send the admissions committee a clear signal that their program is your top choice.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.