Admissions Tips from the McCombs School of Business

Interested in earning your MBA from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin? We sat down and asked a McCombs adcom all your admissions questions for you – check it out!

Q: The essay is usually the hardest part of the MBA application for students. So, do you have any tips for how to write a stand out essay that’ll impress McCombs’ admissions team?

A: Our best suggestion is just to make sure you both clarify why you need to get your MBA to achieve your short and longterm goals while simultaneously giving us a glimpse of your personality and what makes you unique. Your goals should connect in some way to your previous work experience, whether that is because they are in the same industry, or because you have developed a skill set that will enable you to transition into a new industry. Either way, we need to believe that you have thought hard about what your goals are and why you need an MBA to achieve them, and specifically how McCombs can help you achieve those goals. If you do not give us any specifics of why McCombs (classes, organizations, professors, concentrations, etc) then you will not have a competitive essay. And like I said, just make sure we get a glimpse of who you are in the process.

Q: The IR section is fairly new, and students sometimes aren’t sure of how to address it. How important is the Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT in McCombs’ admissions process?

A: We only look at this part of the GMAT if we are on the fence about your application and are digging very deep to determine if you are right and ready for our program. However, this is very rare. At the moment it is not seen as a vital part of the exam for consideration by McCombs.

Q: What are some common threads in admissions interviews that were memorable for you and left a good impression of the student on you?

A: A good interviewer could have any number and combination of traits. In the end, we simply want to be confident that the candidate can tell us their story well and with confidence, are able to succinctly describe their goals and why an MBA as well as why McCombs, and have effective communication skills. Giving comprehensive and succinct answers to questions, not dodging them, and not rambling really help. And we’ll almost always ask questions about your life and passions, so be prepared to go into who you are as a person while still maintaining your professional identity.

Q: Is there any context in which you’d prefer the GRE over the GMAT in a student’s application? (for example, based on the type of MBA program the student is applying to or the strength of the rest of his/her application, e.t.c.)

A: Only if you plan to go into consulting or investment banking do we prefer GMAT over GRE, only because many recruiting firms require it when you’re applying for internships and jobs. Otherwise we have no preference.

Q: It’s pretty common for international students to face language and culture barriers when they’re applying to schools outside of their homeland. So do you have any tips for students outside the states who’re applying to McCombs?

A: This is a huge question. My best suggestion is to study hard, talk to as many people as you can, practice your language questions, and really know what makes our school right for you above others. The best international candidates make us feel they were made for our program.

Q: In your experience at McCombs admissions, what would you say is the number 1 reason an student’s application would be turned down?

A: An inability to clarify why they need an MBA to achieve their goals (often the goals themselves are vague or don’t make sense). Remember that we go into every application wanting to love you, and then only start docking points if we see deficits. If you answer the questions well, have clear and logical goals, and have the work experience and scores to back up those goals (whether based on industry or skill set or both), then you should do fine.

Q: What would you recommend for a non-traditional student who’s been working for years but doesn’t have a 4 year degree and wants to attend McCombs?

A: A 4-year degree is required for our program.

Q: What’s one final piece of advice you’d like to share with every McCombs MBA applicant?

A: We emphasize our culture above all else. You might have an amazing resume and a 750 on your GMAT, but if you don’t convince us that we are right for you, based on your knowledge of our program and our culture (we are very collaborative and flexible, not cut-throat and lockstep, for example), and if you can’t give us specifics, then you will not be competitive. This is not uncommon in MBA applications for other programs. We are very good at spotting a generic app, so make use of your time and put a little effort in your application and it could go a long way.


Note that a lot of this info, and many more great suggestions for applying to MBA schools, can be found on the Texas MBA Insider blog!

Thank you McCombs!


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