MBA Application Requirements

What does Johnson look for in a successful MBA applicant?

In general, Johnson looks for MBA applicants with:

  • Outstanding academic credentials and a commitment to academic excellence
  • A resume that outlines notable professional accomplishments
  • Thoughtful application essays that communicate your fit and potential contributions as a community member
  • Competitive standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE)
  • The desire to make a positive impact
  • The ability to clearly communicate their career goals and the role Johnson will play in the process

For information on the application process and a detailed checklist, visit our Full-Time MBA Application Guide.

Note that the application requirements below apply to the Two-Year and One-Year MBA programs in Ithaca. Candidates applying for the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program should refer to the Cornell Tech website for application and admissions requirements. Contact with questions.

NOTE: Johnson has temporarily adjusted admissions requirements to accommodate applicants who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Please refer to our COVID-19 admissions update site for the latest information.

Work experience requirements

Full-time work experience is not required to apply, but on average, students have completed two to five years of full-time work prior to enrolling. We accept a small number of outstanding applicants with less than one year of full-time experience.

Academic transcripts and official documentation requirements

Candidates who are accepted to and enrolled in Johnson’s MBA programs must hold a bachelor’s degree. Transcripts should be provided for all completed coursework along with proof of graduation from a bachelor’s degree program. One-Year Ithaca MBA students must also hold a professional certification or advanced degree (see below).

If you are currently enrolled in a degree program (bachelor’s or other advanced degree) when you apply to Johnson, you’ll need to provide your most recent transcript. Once your degree is conferred, an official copy of the transcript will be required.

2020-2021 MBA admissions essay prompts

Applicants to the Two-Year and One-Year Ithaca MBA programs must complete a Goals Statement as well as two essays. Applicants to the Two-Year MBA program may complete an additional essay to be considered for the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program full-tuition fellowship award.

Test scores and GMAT/GRE requirements

All MBA program applicants must provide a valid GMAT or GRE score and upload a score report as part of their application. Johnson accepts both GMAT and GRE scores. Candidates seeking dual-degree admission will often submit a GRE score, as this is typically the requirement for non-MBA program applications.

There is no minimum GMAT or GRE score requirement for either of Johnson’s residential MBA programs. However, the middle 80% of our applicants submit GMAT scores between 650 and 740. GRE equivalencies are comparable.

Letters of recommendation

One letter of recommendation is required, but you may submit up to two for review by the committee. You should seek recommendations from people capable of commenting on your professional, leadership, and intellectual capabilities. The most useful evaluations are from people who are able to speak with certainty about your leadership, maturity, team orientation, analytical skills, and interpersonal skills. Examples include a current supervisor, colleague, client, or former supervisor.

English language proficiency requirements

Johnson delivers a highly collaborative academic experience, which requires mastery of the English Language. All applicants to the Two-Year and One-Year MBA programs must demonstrate proficiency of the English language and can do so via citizenship, prior academic degree conferral, and/or an English language proficiency exam.

If English is not your native language, and you have not earned a university degree in an English-speaking country, you are required to submit official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Candidates who elect to take and submit an IELTS score when applying to Johnson may submit scores from either the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training exams.

Application fees

A nonrefundable $200 application fee is required in order to submit your application for any of Johnson’s residential MBA programs.