Most MBA (or Master of Finance) programs send signals regarding the types of characteristics they appreciate in students. In that regard, these programs fall into one of three categories: direct, covert, and well rounded.

Check out: 5 Commonly Asked Questions by B-School Applicants


These schools will highlight straightforward character traits that you can use to structure your application. Ideally, you would want to cite experiences that directly demonstrate the qualities sought by the program.

Example #1 – The Columbia Business School at Columbia University (US) explicitly states that it is looking for students who are driven by a strong work ethic, who are ready to build and foster professional and personal relationships, and are determined to make a real impact on the world through their chosen field. This, for example, may include explaining exactly how your skill set will allow a smoother interaction with other students in the program or how the MBA could enhance your passion in a particular field and help you address current issues in that field or society in general.

Example #2 – New York University’s Stern School of Business (US) explicitly states that it would like students who demonstrate strong intellectual ability, superior interpersonal skills, and a desire to create value for business and society. Therefore, applicants seeking admissions may be more successful if they are able to demonstrate an ability to excel in academics or apply in-class knowledge to a start-up, non-for-profit, or their current place of work and explain what they were able to achieve as a result of their efforts.

Check out: How to Wait for the MBA Admissions Decision


While these schools will avoid overtly mentioning specific characteristics they esteem, you could still uncover them through some research. For instance, you can discover that your program is aggressively marketing a particular initiative or department (something like an incubator for startups or a new program major), or you could research the types of activities that the program considers to be a “highlight”. This will help you infer the qualities that the school will expect from candidates.

Example #1 – The admissions page of the MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (Canada) does not explicitly define the type of candidates it finds appealing. However, the “MBA Program” description focuses on, among others, specific initiatives launched by the school. For example, the program strongly promotes Rotman’s startup accelerator, the Creative Destructions Lab. Thus, it is possible to infer that the program seeks students who possess entrepreneurial characteristics that will allow them to do well in a startup environment. This means applicants would want to demonstrate that they are able to work well in groups, take risks, and have prior experience of participating in a startup.

Check out: Standing Out in the MBA Application Pool (Video)

Well rounded

This category of schools, and the one most candidates struggle with, contains schools looking for the proverbial “well rounded student”. The program will often mention (too) many characteristics that it considers desirable, or will simply state that it is looking for students who are well rounded, complete, or someone who can be “the leader of tomorrow”. As an example, the MBA program at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (US) and the MBA program at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business (Canada) claim that they use a holistic approach where no single factor is decisive and students are hunted from a broad range of backgrounds. How should you deal with this? MyReducation can help!

How to make your application stronger

At MyReducation, we help candidates create strong MBA application packages. You will be matched with a coach who will personally guide you through the application process, help you understand your strengths, and will allow you to position yourself in the best way possible. Want more information? Contact us for a free consultation at