Ten Easy Pieces

by Kalyn Speck, Rice Business Recruiting and Admissions Specialist

How to Apply for a Rice MBA in Ten Steps

Interview with Kalyn Speck, Rice Business recruiting and admissions specialist

If you're planning on applying to Rice Business you're likely a high achiever – and showcasing all your qualifications to best effect, in one application, while meeting your other responsibilities, may seem daunting. Don't let it be: Rice Business recruiting and admissions specialist Kalyn Speck shows you how to bring your best game to the application process in ten manageable steps.

Step 1: Ask Questions

Before starting your application, spend time researching programs and the MBA process overall. What do the alumni from a particular program go on to pursue after getting their degrees? What are the typical career paths after earning an MBA? What are your goals for an MBA? Why is a Rice MBA right for you?

Step 2: Start your online application.

Once you open your online application account, it will be a work in progress. Please check this page for up-to-date information on MBA application requirements. You'll be able to add to and edit it as much as you want in the days before submitting. Rice Business reviews applications comprehensively, which means that no one piece of your application carries more weight than any of the others. Instead, quantitative credentials – such as work experience, GMAT or GRE score and grades – will be assessed alongside qualitative achievements such as leadership, community involvement and career progress. This ensures a range of ways for you to show why you belong here. Keep in mind you don’t need to fill out the application all in one sitting; many successful candidates work on their application as a study break from their GMAT or GRE test preparation. 

Step 3: Choose Your Test

Determine if you want to take the GMAT or GRE. If you are a professional or executive MBA candidate, you are eligible to take the EA, or executive assessment, instead. We don't have a preference. However, some applicants tend to perform better on one of these tests over the other. So you should research which type of test you do best on. Another tip: A few industries tend to prefer one test over the other. Depending on your career goals, you may want to choose a particular test. Rice Business only needs unofficial scores until enrollment.

It is currently possible to request a GMAT waiver. This is a request, not a guarantee. If you choose to make this request, you should do so well before submitting your application. 

Step 4: Gather Transcripts

Gather unofficial copies of your higher education transcripts. We advise taking this step early on, because you may need to reach out to your former schools for these documents. The application process only requires unofficial copies, such as scans. For enrollment, you'll need to submit official copies.

Step 5: Choose Your Recommenders

Select your recommenders, and let them know they should expect an email from our admissions office. It will contain a link to the form for the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation. We suggest having a conversation with your recommenders beforehand, explaining why you are interested in an MBA program. It can be helpful to remind your recommenders of a couple of projects you have worked on. Rice Business applicants are required to collect at least two professional recommendations, though just one is acceptable if it comes from your current, direct supervisor. One recommendation needs to be from someone who highlights your professional abilities, and altogether you may provide up to three recommendations.

Step 6: Ready Your Resume 

Now it's time to prepare your resume. A tip for your Rice Business application is to follow a 70-10-20 rule. This means that about 70 percent of your resume should focus on your work experience, 10 percent should describe your education and 20 percent can inform on everything else relevant to your profile as a Rice Business candidate. Make sure to focus on what you’ve actually accomplished rather than simply describing your role at work or at school, and to quantify your achievements wherever you can.

Step 7: Write Your Essay

This is a multiphase step, because you'll want to think deeply about what you want to say about yourself and your goals. The Rice Business application asks for one essay which all applicants must complete that you might think of as the "what am I doing here" essay. This is your opportunity to tell your story, why you are interested in the Rice MBA and also why it makes sense at this point of your career to pursue this goal. Think you can get your point across better by speaking? This essay also offers a three-minute video option. Don’t worry if you feel writing is just not your forte, that’s fine. You can showcase your creativity in a video instead. We’re not looking for an Oscar-worthy performance. We’ve seen people submit excellent essays from their phones, sometimes looping in their families. We want to know about you and how your choices have aligned with your goals and commitments.

It’s important to be clear and concise. It's key to tell us your story and not what you think we want to hear. We want to get to know you and what will make you unique as a student and a member of the Rice Business community. Authenticity, both in authorship and in content, is important. We can usually tell if you’ve written your essay personally, and sincerely.

The second and third essay prompts are for Professional and Full-Time MBA candidates. When you write your essays, be sure to say what you want and who you are – not what you think we want to hear. Don’t regurgitate the website! Make sure your essays complement and support your entire application process. It’s important to be genuine, and to focus specifically on applying to Rice. We know it’s tempting to repurpose essays for other MBA programs – don’t give in. We want to see why you will thrive at Rice Business in particular. This is your opportunity to be creative and really showcase your personality and your strengths. 

Step 8: Put It All Together

Now it's time to upload anything that you haven't already put online: your scanned transcripts, the names of your recommenders, the final version of your essay. Double check that you've filled out all requested biographical and practical questions, such as your birth date, address and contact information. Proofread – and submit!

Step 9: Consider The Interview

The Rice Business application includes an interview with all candidates who are finalists. These interviews are unique to Rice in that they're conducted by current Rice Business students who are in their second year. It's a fantastic opportunity to learn about someone else's MBA experience. Make sure you can speak thoughtfully about everything on your resume, including your past work experience. And think as well about what you want to ask in your interview. Rice Business is a tight-knit, collaborative learning experience and the interview is an opportunity to learn why you belong here.

Step 10: Acknowledge Taking A Stride Forward

Give yourself a treat: take yourself to dinner or enjoy some time in nature. You've applied to one of the top business schools in the country and made a substantive stride toward the future.

Ready to start your application?

Apply Now

Interested in learning more about the MBA programs offered by Rice Business? Send us an email at

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