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Articles / Applying to College / Business School Admission for Online University Grad

June 20, 2007

Business School Admission for Online University Grad

Question: I am a graduate of an online university in Canada majoring in accounting. The university I attended also happens to be the only Canadian University to hold an American Regional Accreditation. All of my credentials including EC's and full-time experience are up to par with the top universities in the country. Do I have a chance with a top 20 B-school, for example Michigan-Ross or a Canadian school like U of Toronto-Rotman or will the addmissions office reject my application becausemy degree was completed via internet? Thanks.

As a growing number of undergraduates pursue online degrees, colleges and universities will have to establish guidelines to determine if online degree recipients are eligible to apply as transfer or graduate students, just as you hope to do. At this point, your best bet is to contact directly the two institutions you've named as well as the others on your list and ask them the same question you've asked us.


Not only will this assure you of up-to-date information as it pertains specifically to the schools you hope to attend, but also it's a good way for you to establish a rapport with one of the admission officials at each institution. If your online credentials do indeed hold up (and I suspect that they probably won't be a dealbreaker, though you will still face other hurdles), it will be helpful to have made a contact in the admission office.

Keep in mind that even if an online degree is acceptable, it's just a starting place. You will need to make sure that your online curriculum fulfilled the admission requirements at each university on your list. For example, Ross expects this of its applicants:

Complete the equivalent of a four-year U.S. Bachelor's degreeTake the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
International students must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if their first language is not English
All international applicants are required to hold a college or university undergraduate degree equivalent to a four-year American baccalaureate degree. In light of the European Bologna Accord, the Ross School of Business will also accept all three-year international undergraduate degrees from Europe as meeting this requirement.
Before enrolling, students must:
Complete a college-level calculus course (grade of C or better) that includes integral and differential calculus. AP courses meet the requirement as long as college credit was granted.
Additionally, the Admissions Committee strongly recommends that applicants schedule an evaluative interview.

Assuming that your background meshes with these prerequisites and your test scores are well within the typical admitted-student range, then my guess is that your online degree will not be a hindrance. However, I also expect that your application will be scrutinized very carefully, that you will be held to a high standard when it comes to GMAT scores, and that your interview will be an important way for you to convince admission committees that your non-standard education will not be an impediment as you begin your graduate career. Good luck to you.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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