Your MBA will usually cost a considerable amount, although the tuition fees may vary from 10,000 to 100,000 EUR depending on the school. And the preparation for application also needs a well-planned budget. Here is a plan of the expenses and the time-line of payments during the period of your preparation.Not all expenses are mandatory, but it is practical to be aware of all possibilities.
Most business schools will require two tests for an MBA application. One of them is an English language proficiency test if you are not a native speaker of English – such as TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS. The other is an aptitude test – such as the GMAT or the GRE.
The most effective way to prepare for the tests is to have guidance by professional instructors. This may be either in individual tutoring sessions or by attending group classes, face-to-face or online.
The fees for preparation vary greatly depending on the country, and individual tutoring is more expensive than attending group classes. In Europe, the fee for group classes may be between 200 and 1500 EUR per course. If you prefer to prepare on your own, then your expenses will be for books. Books and software may vary between 30 and 200 EUR. Normally, several books will be used for self-preparation.
Test taking and official score reports
More than one test may have to be taken before you achieve your best score or meet the school requirements. Test fees are as follows: 160-250 USD for TOEFL depending on the country. TOIEC and IELTS fees vary per country too. GMAT fee is 250 USD plus VAT, GRE is 185 USD. For most of these tests, the fee also covers up to four or five official score reports sent to the schools of your choice. If you prefer to see your test score first and then send official score reports to schools, there is an additional fee of about 20 USD per score report.
Fees for the tests are paid upon registration, which is about two months before the test date. In locations with a lot of test takers this should happen earlier. Additional score reports may be ordered as soon as your score is available – usually up to two weeks after the test date.
Travel and accommodation
Testing is administered in authorised testing centres. It might be that there is no testing centre where you reside, so you will need to travel to take the test in another city or country. It is best to travel on the day before the test so that you are not exhausted. This means that you have to plan for the round trip and lodging expenses.
School selection is crucial for your admission, because you need to identify schools which are good both in terms of what they will provide to you, and in admitting applicants of your calibre. School selection may take quite some time to research. There are some services which can save you time but cost you a fee – an orientation consultant will evaluate your profile and then research schools which will be a good match.
School selection, and especially shortlisting schools to which you will apply (usually up to five), calls for interaction with the school such as attending school presentations, open days, campus visits. The campus visit for an open day and/or attending classes is an invaluable experience. It can either change your mind or confirm your decision to apply to a school. A campus visit needs investment in travel, sometimes lodging, and a day of your time. Luckily some schools have started offering virtual campus tours and online open classes, which will save you time and money if you cannot afford to travel in order to attend in person.
The actual preparation of your application portfolio may also require funding. A considerable percentage of the applicants to top business schools invest in admissions consulting in order to improve their chance of admission, yet with no guarantee of success. Average fees are about 150 EUR per hour and a comprehensive service for one school application takes about 10 consulting hours. So applicants who apply to several of the best ranked b-schools may commit about 5,000 EUR just for advice on preparing their package of CV, essays, references, etc.
Advice may be taken for stand-alone services just for the elements which are most challenging – the essays for example, or the CV. Also, prices vary per country, although the consultants who only serve applicants to the top schools keep their fees high.
Most schools will have an application fee which you must pay before the application deadline for your application to be reviewed. The average fee is 150 EUR, making a total of 750 EUR if you apply to five schools. This fee is non-refundable and rarely waived.
Translations and legalisation of documents
Official academic transcripts and a diploma (undergraduate or graduate) are part of the application dossier. While some schools admit scanned copied during the review of your application, others still require the original of the official documents to be submitted, with official translation in English and legalisations as necessary. This adds the translation and notary fees to the budget of international applicants, as well as mailing expenses for a secure service – normally express courier or registered mail. Prices vary per country, so no estimate can be provided here.
If you are invited to an admissions interview you want to make sure you do your best. Many applicants, even if they have not used admissions consulting, seek help in preparing for the admissions interview alone. This adds another 200 EUR per hour to your budget, although packages are sometimes available, e.g. 5 hours of preparation and drilling for 750 EUR.
This budget item is only for the successful applicants. But it's best to plan for it as a part of your preparation, because it is typically due very soon after you receive the letter of admission. The confirmation deposit usually amounts to several thousand euro, and is deductible from your first semester tuition fee if you enrol in the programme. However, if you are waiting to hear from other schools and would like to reserve your place prior to making a final decision about where to enrol, you might need to risk losing the deposits paid to one or two schools.