The extensive available advice about applying to MBA programs was largely created with applicants to full-time MBA programs in mind. If you are applying to part-time MBA programs, most of this advice will be pertinent for you as well. But there are some nuances to applying to part-time programs that warrant attention.
The fact of working while you are studying is one, and it affects the application. The nitty-gritty of your daily work is a resource you will bring directly to class discussions and group projects. You can share the reality of your work world in “real time” with your classmates. The adcoms view this factor as a core benefit of part-time programs and integral to their unique learning process. Hence, in your resume, essays, and the application form, put thought into how you present your current work scenario; look at it from the eyes of prospective classmates.
Moreover, since you are continuing to work, your goals won’t necessarily start at the magic moment you graduate. So, in a goals essay (depending on how the question is worded) discuss specific goals that you want to achieve in your current role, while you’re in the program – doing so allows you to further illuminate your work. Part-time MBA programs are usually not for career changers, at least in the short term, and they may not open recruiting to them. Review the program’s policies about recruiting for part-time students before you say that you’ll be using it for post-MBA employment.
Attending grad school while working is grueling, period. Hence, adcoms look for evidence that you are prepared for it. The last thing they want is students dropping out. Sometimes an essay question directly addresses this issue. If not, it can never hurt to briefly convey awareness of the challenge and mention plans for handling it. If you’ve previously successfully studied while working full time, note that fact.
Finally, for the bulk of part-time programs that target local applicants, their applicant pool may contain high concentrations from strong local industries, such as pharma and finance in New York. Consider and address this factor in differentiating yourself.
Good luck with your applications!
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.