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3 Core Strengths Every Howard Online MBA Application Should Embody

August 25, 2021

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed students toward remote learning, Howard University’s Online MBA was a top choice among ambitious business school applicants. As a 150-year old institution (founded shortly after the Civil War), ours is arguably the most prestigious Historically Black College and University (HBCU) offering the MBA in any format. We’re also one of very few featuring such a wide array of program formats—Howard offers on-campus and online options for our traditional MBA as well as an online Executive MBA.

Highly selective and well-regarded by outside ranking organizations (The Princeton Review recognizes Howard in its greatest resources for minority students and most competitive students lists), our MBA Program was the first university in Washington, DC, accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. For reasons both historical and contemporaneous, Howard University is a name that draws attention. Need confirmation on that? Just ask the vice president of the United States.

“Howard is committed to developing distinguished, historically aware, and compassionate graduates and discovering solutions to human problems in the United States and throughout the world.”

Are you looking to join an upcoming Howard University MBA cohort? Then you’ll want to do everything you can to make your MBA application stand out. While there’s no foolproof way to ensure your successful candidacy for our (or any) MBA program, there are ways to improve your chances. Howard University identifies three core values embodied in our teaching and expected of our MBA students:

  • Excellence
  • Leadership
  • Truth and service

As you tell your story through your application, remember these ideals. That’s the best way to impress our admissions committee.

Who typically gets an MBA?

Prospective MBA candidates are driven towards leadership careers in business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Our students are seeking broad understanding across business disciplines, which is why they pursue the Master of Business Administration. Our online MBA covers all essential business fields through courses in:

  • Business statistics
  • Data analytics
  • E-Commerce
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial accounting
  • Financial management
  • Financial modeling
  • Global management consulting
  • Information systems
  • Managerial accounting
  • Marketing management
  • Organizational management
  • Production and operations research
  • Project management
  • Strategic management
  • Supply chain management

We require Howard Online MBA applicants to have at least two years of professional experience following undergraduate study. Our MBA programs expect students to contribute real-life experience to class discussions; that’s why we look for students who have worked in business between college and graduate school. All applicants must also hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

What are the standard MBA application requirements?

Although every MBA program is unique, our MBA admissions process requires candidates to submit similar documents. You want your application to stand out from other prospective candidates, starting with preparing for, understanding, and meeting all admission requirements. Your completed MBA application will include:

  • MBA resume and work experience: Submit a current resume or CV detailing all previous work experience. Look for opportunities to highlight examples of excellence, leadership, truth, and service in your descriptions of your work and other accomplishments. Candidates for the Howard Online MBA program must have at least two years of postgraduate professional experience.
  • MBA essay/statement of interest: The essay provides you an excellent opportunity to distinguish yourself. Essay prompts typically focus on your reasons for wanting an MBA and choosing the institution to which you’re applying. This gives you the chance to spotlight the uniqueness of your character, abilities, academic history, community service activities, and professional experience and to express your commitment to issues of diversity. Make sure to emphasize your interest in the Howard University Online MBA program and how completing our MBA will facilitate your dreams and aspirations. The statement should be two to three pages long, double-spaced.
  • Letters of recommendation: You will need to get two recommendation letters that address your intellectual and personal capabilities. Recommenders should be professionals, optimally supervisors, members of academia, mentors, or authority figures who can attest to the quality of your character (e.g., a clergyperson). All letters should be on official letterhead, signed, and uploaded to our online application site by the recommenders. Topics should cover personal integrity, ability to work with others, leadership qualities, oral and written communication skills, and community involvement.
  • Undergraduate transcripts: You’ll need to arrange to provide official transcripts of your academic records from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. Nearly all GMAT programs require applicants to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Some will waive this requirement for exceptional candidates (e.g., you founded a multimillion-dollar company). We recommend, but do not require, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Standardized test scores: You will need to submit GMAT or GRE scores to apply to Howard’s Online MBA program. Which should you take? More MBA programs prefer or only accept the GMAT; on the other hand, some students feel that it is easier to earn a higher score on the GRE. What constitutes a good or excellent standardized test score? The average GMAT score nationwide is 556, making everything above that score “above average.” A 600 is generally considered a very good score, and a 700 or above an excellent score. The average GRE score is 152; anything above 160 puts you in the top 20 percent of test-takers. Regardless of which test you choose, make sure to prepare well in advance of the test date. Regular practice, coupled with instruction (there are plenty of good tutorials online), can significantly improve your exam scores. If you are a non-native English speaker or international student who earned a degree at an institution where instruction is not in English, you may be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

What makes an MBA application strong?

You can optimize your chances throughout the MBA application process by ensuring every element of your application is as strong as possible. To tailor your application to our admissions standards, make sure to focus on highlighting Howard’s three core values: excellence, leadership, and truth and service.


The root of the word excellence is the verb excel, which means to surpass, transcend, or outdo. Being “just good enough” isn’t good enough to achieve excellence. Excellence means surpassing not only your peers but also—perhaps more importantly—your previous achievements and your expectations of yourself.

What excellence means at Howard

What does excellence mean at Howard University? A list of our notable alumni suggests it combines impressive achievement with valuable societal contributions: – Panovel Technology CEO Moses Asom – Late actor Chadwick Bosman – Transplant surgeon Clive Callendar – Rap artist/mogul Sean Combs – NASA aerospace engineer Aprille Ericsson – Vice President Kamala Harris – Late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall – Author/Nobel laureate Toni Morrison – Opera superstar Jessye Norman – Actress Phylicia Rashad – Former UN Ambassador and Civil Rights leader Andrew Young

How to show excellence in your MBA application

You demonstrate excellence when you show that you tried and succeeded at a demanding challenge. Your transcripts should show a high undergraduate GPA at a school that stretched your capabilities. Your resume should demonstrate worthwhile work experience with increasing levels of responsibility and/or professional honors and awards. Your essay should highlight accomplishments without being boastful; consider describing challenges you overcame to get where you are, professionally or personally. Finally, make sure your recommendations provide diverse snapshots of your professional and personal commitments to excellence.


Leadership is about more than supervising others. Sometimes leadership is best demonstrated by those who stand apart from the crowd, rather than shepherding it. Daring to break with conventional wisdom or stand up when it would be easier to “go with the flow” is a more challenging form of leadership. Do you have experience in all these forms of leadership? Make sure to highlight them throughout your application: in your resume, personal statement, and conversations with our admissions team.

What leadership means at Howard

Howard is committed to developing distinguished, historically aware, and compassionate graduates and discovering solutions to human problems in the United States and throughout the world. Our Online MBA is producing exceptional leaders in the business world and beyond.

How to show leadership in your MBA application

Your MBA application should highlight your leadership skills and experiences. Your application should include:

  • A resume that shows you were successful in driving change for your organization: highlight instances where you took the initiative to create efficiencies in workflows or explore uncharted territory (by expanding into new market segments, experimenting to improve processes, diversifying product offerings, and other out-of-the-box type opportunities).
  • An MBA essay that explains what it means to drive change and how you want your education to prepare you to do this throughout your career.
  • Letters of recommendation that stress the leadership skills you bring to the table, regardless of your title or seniority; leadership doesn’t only happen in a management role—the ability to inspire others into action is leadership, too.
  • In your MBA essay, consider discussing leadership skills that you’ve exemplified as part of your community or involvement in professional, civic, or other types of organizations.

Truth and service

Some people outside the business world—and, sadly, a few people inside it—see business as a selfish and amoral endeavor whose sole goal is to make the most money possible. Business leaders and business schools do not see it that way. Certainly, Howard University doesn’t: our core values stress the imperatives of honesty and giving back to the community.

What service means at Howard

Howard University’s motto is “Veritas et Utilitas,” Latin for “truth and service.” These aren’t empty words: our community embodies these principles in the academic pursuit of truth and in the many services we provide to the surrounding community and the world-at-large. Our Online MBA teaches students to engage in scholarship that provides more than profits. Howard MBAs seek business-driven solutions to contemporary global problems.

How to show truth and service in your MBA application

Your MBA application should show how the motto of “truth and service” manifests in your professional and/or personal life. In your essay, demonstrate a commitment to community and service. Your resume should include examples of volunteer activities and highlight the positive impact you have made on your community. Discuss how you will use your Howard MBA to contribute to global progress and wellbeing.

Our Online MBA will prepare you to tackle real-world business problems from a global business leader’s mindset. Your application should speak to how you will take the knowledge and skills you have acquired while keeping sight of how you can be of service to humankind.

Deadlines, fees, and additional information

Our Online MBA launches three times a year, with cohorts entering in the spring, summer, and fall. Visit the Howard Online MBA website to learn more about application deadlines, application fees, program introductory webinars, and other essential information about the program.

As you prepare your application materials and seek out recommenders, keep Howard University’s three core values in focus. Our university is seeking candidates committed to learning for a lifetime. We are looking to prepare business leaders like yourself with executive readiness, strong networks and connections within the field, a commitment to corporate citizenship, strategic thinking, and fresh perspectives. For those who gain admission, the rewards are great. The Howard Online MBA offers excellent value through international immersion opportunities, scholarship, classroom diversity, and recruitment programs.

You have the tools you need to prepare a fantastic application package. Prepare, plan and execute. Your admission to the Howard University online MBA program rests on implementing all the tips you’ve learned here to present a strong MBA application that is worthy of consideration. You got this! Take a deep breath! Gather your thoughts, get ready, get set, and apply! Focus on the three core strengths, tell your story, and you just might become a Howard MBA.

Download a brochure and learn more about Howard University School of Business online Master's programs.