The admission’s department at SFU’s Segal School of Graduate Business calls it “recruiting”, but I call it helping out someone in the same position as I was once in – looking for a great Business School to take an MBA. If you’ve decided to take your MBA, Graduate Business school selection can seem like one of the most challenging and complicated choices to make. Luckily, Graduate Business schools (especially Canadian MBA schools) provide multiple opportunities annually to develop a better understanding of the school and what it offers on a closer, more personal level. At SFU Graduate Business School, located in the Segal Graduate school (The old Bank of Montreal building) in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the staff and faculty make a concerted effort to give prospective students the information they need to make the choice about which business school to attend.
I recently attended an information session for SFU’s Graduate Business programs to chat a bit about my experience and answer any questions from prospective students. These monthly sessions are lead by the program’s Associate Dean, program founder, and principal admissions officer. What I liked most about sitting in on the 1 hour seminar was the distinct absence of cheesy promotional videos and unclear statistics about how easily grads found jobs, and how successful the alumni were. Instead, the session focused on the type of experience a student might have if they were to enroll in SFU’s Full-Time MBA program.
One aspect of the session that I found interesting was the Associate Dean’s honesty and frankness about admission criteria. As with any other MBA school, SFU has rather stringent admission criteria which looks at GMAT score, undergraduate GPA, references, and life experience, among other things. When I was applying for the SFU MBA program, I, like hundreds of other MBA applicants, got very caught up in my upcoming GMAT test. (The Authors of this blog have compiled several GMAT related posts, including: GMAT CAT exam tips, as well as the best GMAT review books, and a huge list of free online GMAT tests). While your GMAT score is an important admission criterion, it’s certainly not the “be-all and end-all”, and this is especially true at SFU’s Graduate Business School. So, is it possible to get into a great MBA program without a good GMAT score? It is, as long as there are some other factors that might counterbalance. More specifically, look at school’s like SFU Business which use a compensatory model of admission. Let’s explain this concept further, using the example given by the Associate Dean of the SFU MBA program.
The best way to explain what a compensatory model is to first describe a “non-compensatory” model. In a non-compensatory model, if the applicant falls below ANY of the objectively measured admissions criteria (often GMAT, Undergrad GPA, essay scoring, years of work experience) they will immediately be disqualified from admission to that particular Grad School. Even if the MBA applicant is a perfect fit in all other areas, yet has a low GMAT score, they stand no chance of admission. It’s becoming quite clear now why SFU does NOT use this model, isn’t it? Admitting students using the non-compensatory model severely restricts the diversity and breadth of talent within the applicant pool, and ultimately, in your MBA class.
The SFU MBA admissions team does not want to make this critical admission error, and therefore uses a compensatory model for admission. What results is an MBA cohort which is widely diversified and talented in more than than simply test-taking and essay writing. In the past 3 graduating classes, SFU’s Full-Time MBA has admitted professional athletes, medical doctors, musicians (including a world famous opera tenor), astro-physicists, dot-net geniuses, and film producers, to name a very small few. It’s an exciting and interesting study environment; one perfect for creating lifelong dynamic business partnerships.
Don’t worry if you fall slightly below the minimum GMAT, GPA, or other measurements. The SFU MBA program looks at the applicant with a more holistic eye, they’re not trying to maximise GMAT scores. All this said, the average GMAT score in the current full-time MBA class is 615, and has been rising each year. This average appears to be growing naturally as applications become all-together stronger. Chances are you’re a pretty interesting person, so feel free to attend an information session or contact the SFU MBA admissions department. I look forward to seeing you at the next info session!
Is it possible to apply without a GMAT score?
This entry of yours Ryan would really help those who aspire to apply to SFU’s Segal Business School and be familiarize some terms on MBA programs and how to be considered on this program.
Thanks for talking about the admission process, it will help potential students.
The post is very informative, thanks!
I think the GMAT test is very hard.
“Don’t worry if you fall slightly below the minimum GMAT, GPA, or other measurements. The SFU MBA program looks at the applicant with a more holistic eye, they’re not trying to maximise GMAT scores.”
I have always thought that MBA programs are quite academic alone. But I do agree that applicants must be assessed in a holistic approach… I do believe in multiple intelligences. There are some people who are not really that smart, but when it comes to making decisions and public relations, they really do well. Nice post Ryan, very good insights.
Hi Ryan, thank you for sharing this information. My brother is an applicant to that business school and I am helping him out. Now, that I have read your entry, I can help him even better.
Great post post! I find it informative.
Very good explanation of the compensatory admissions process. More grad schools ought to qualify their potential students that way. Not everyone is talented at taking tests. (Yes, it is a special talent). Yet they can far excel in other arenas and add tremendous value to the pool.
Thanks for this great post Ryan. As an applicant to SFU’s Segal Business School, I’m familiar with the requirements for the MBA program but was unclear as to how a candidate is assessed. This post has helped me to understand how SFU considers applicants for their MBA program. Thanks!