An Examination of the Admission Criteria for the MBA Programs: A Case Study

By Ahmadi, Mohammad; Raiszadeh, Farhad et al. | Education, Summer 1997 | Go to article overview

An Examination of the Admission Criteria for the MBA Programs: A Case Study


Ahmadi, Mohammad, Raiszadeh, Farhad, Helms, Marilyn, Education


The current admissions process at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) like that of many other AACSB accredited graduate business programs, relies heavily on Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores as predictor of success. To be admitted into the MBA program at UTC, prospective students must complete standard admission forms and submit their GMAT scores. Students are admitted into the MBA program by one of two methods, the index system or the petition process.

In the index system of acceptance, a point index for each prospective student is computed. To calculate the index, the applicant's undergraduate GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) is multiplied by a factor of 200. This number is added to the applicant' GMAT score producing a total index score. All applicants meeting the minimum score of 950 are admitted. A second index is calculated if the prospective student's score is less than 950. This second index is based on the GPA of the last 60 undergraduate credit hours (typically representing major business courses). This 60 hour based GPA is then multiplied by 200 and added to the GMAT score. If the total index is at least 1000 points the applicant is admitted.

If the prospective student meets neither requirement, he or she may appeal the admissions process by petitioning the Graduate Council. The Graduate Council, at their discretion, accepts or denies the petition. Only a very small percentage (less than 10%) are admitted to the program through petition.

The benefits of this study will allow the directors of MBA programs to reassess their admission requirements and make policy changes if necessary. By improving admission criteria and standards, more promising candidates will be admitted to the program, leading to a higher quality of MBA graduates.

Background of Standardized Testing

Standardized testing has been utilized for over a century. Providing many functions, testing can be used to sort people into groups, classify and rank employees, or admit students into educational programs. Tests can be designed to measure aptitude, personality, achievement, or even competency. There are many advantages to standardized testing; however, standardized testing does have drawbacks.

Some business schools accept the Miller's Analogies Test (MAT). In a Pepperdine study, Graham (1991) found a significant relationship between MAT scores and graduate GPA, but the correlation was not as strong as that found between GMAT scores and graduate GPA, particularly when these scores were combined with undergraduate GPA. The Graduate Management Admission Test was first administered in 1954 by the Educational Testing Service in conjunction with the Graduate Management Admission Council. The GMAT scores range from 200 to 800 points, with a mean of 500 and a standard deviation of 100.

The GMAT and MBA Admission

The GMAT is designed to measure the ability and knowledge of the student. The test is all multiple-choice questions covering two sections, verbal and quantitative. The score a prospective student earns usually determines whether he or she is admitted into a school or university. Other factors such as grade point average may also be considered. Each school or university has its own policy and requirements.

In a study (Edwards, 1990) done to gather information concerning MBA programs, 657 accredited institutions were surveyed. Out of the 333 responses received, all but one of the responding schools used some sort of pre-admission testing. Johns Hopkins does not require candidates to submit a pre-admission test score such as GMAT. Some other graduate programs including Standford, Boston College, and University of Indiana at Bloomington require submission of GMAT score for consideration, but do not mandate a minimum acceptable score. The most popular decision method for most MBA programs is an index system based on GMAT scores and undergraduate GPA's. From the responding schools, 177 respondents used an index, 81 imposed a minimum test score in addition to applying an index, and the rest used a minimum test score without applying an index. …

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