How to Get Into London Business School

In my eight years of postgraduate admissions consultancy, ‘How to get into London Business School’ is the most common (and challenging!) request I receive each year. Nevertheless, my clients through The Profs enjoy an 83% offer rate to LBS. That’s over 4 times LBS’s reported average acceptance rate.

In order to understand how The Profs has helped such a high proportion of students to get into London Business School, you must fully understand how LBS’s application process and methodology differs from every other business school in the UK.

In addition to a relatively low offer rate, London Business School (LBS) also has the most intensive admissions process in the UK. In fact, the average application for LBS is 3 times longer than the average application to LSE and 5 times longer than the average application to Oxford when comparing the total word counts. However, you should not see this intense application process as a negative, but rather something you can use to your advantage to beat the competition.

The key to getting into London Business School is to target their hidden soft skills criteria, which you can find detailed in this article. I’ve also compiled some of the learnings of our ex-LBS admissions officers and alumni interviewers to help you learn how to get into London Business School.

Below is only a fraction of our knowledge, so if you want to boost your chances of securing a place at LBS, you can contact our team of experienced postgraduate admissions tutors to help you tailor your application to LBS’ unique values.

Contents

What is London Business School’s acceptance rate?

Whilst London Business School does not publish its acceptance rates, it is reported that acceptance rates vary from 10-20% for their postgraduate courses, with a 20% acceptance rate for MBA admissions, rising up to 33% for their 2-year Global Master’s in Management, and as high as 67% for their Executive MBA programmes.

At face value, this makes LBS’s acceptance rates much higher than LSE or Oxford, whose Finance and Management courses see as low as 5% acceptance rates. However, the average calibre of an LBS application is much higher because all students must submit a GMAT score, and this barrier to entry filters out the weakest applicants, inflating LBS’s acceptance rates.

Understanding LBS’s lengthy application process can greatly increase your chances of success, which is why our students enjoy an 83% LBS offer rate. If you’re aiming high for a place on one of LBS’s competitive courses, contact my team within The Profs’ admissions consultants for expert support.

What are the LBS entry requirements?

The table below shows some of the key entry requirements for London Business School. LBS does not publish a table for international grade conversations, nor its English language requirements, so we recommend using LSE’s information for international students as a guide. You can also get in touch with The Profs for dedicated support from one of our international admissions experts

Course title Length Grade requirements GMAT score Work experience requirements Other requirements
Master’s in Finance 10-16 months.
There is the option to do an additional term.
A good grade in a quantitative degree. A 2:1 is highly recommended. Minimum score of 600.
700+ recommended.
2 years’ work experience since graduation required.

The average offer holder has 6 years of work experience.

1 professional referee.

2 questions
Q1. What are your career objectives and what steps are you taking to achieve them? What alternatives are you considering? What geographical region do you hope to work in? (maximum 500 words)
Q2. What specific areas of London Business School life are you most excited about getting involved in and where do you believe you will add value to the School Community? (maximum 300 words)

Master’s in Financial Analysis 10-16 months.
There is the option to do an additional term.
A 2:1, with a strong preference for a quantitative subject. Minimum score of 600.
650+ recommended.
Less than 2 years of work experience since graduation. 1 professional referee.
No personal statement, but many application questions. We strongly recommended creating your applications portal to review all of the questions before you start writing.
Master’s in Management 10-16 months.
There is the option to do an additional term.
A 2:1, with a slight preference for a quantitative subject. Minimum score of 600.
650+ recommended.
Less than 2 years of work experience since graduation. 1 professional referee.
No personal statement, but many application questions. We strongly recommended creating your applications portal to review all of the questions before you start writing.
Global Master’s in Management (2 years) 24 months.
The second year is in Shanghai.
A 2:1, with a slight preference for a quantitative subject. Minimum score of 600.
650+ recommended.
Less than 2 years of work experience since graduation. 1 professional referee.
No personal statement, but many application questions. We strongly recommended creating your applications portal to review all of the questions before you start writing.
Master’s in Analytics and Management 10-16 months.
There is the option to do an additional term.
A 2:1 in a highly quantitative degree (e.g. Engineering, Physics, Economics, Computer science, etc.) Minimum score of 600.
650+ recommended.
Less than 2 years of work experience since graduation. 1 professional referee.
No personal statement, but many application questions. We strongly recommended creating your applications portal to review all of the questions before you start writing.
You will be asked about your most relevant project experience with data analysis.
MBA 15-21 months. No grade requirements. Much greater importance is placed on work experience. Minimum score of 600.
700+ recommended.
5 years of work experience on average. 1 professional referee.
Question: What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these? (500 words)
Executive MBAs 20 months No grade requirements. Holding an undergraduate is preferred but not necessary. We recommend a score above 600. 12 years of work experience on average, with the majority being in (senior) management positions. 1 professional referee.
2 Questions
Q1: Please provide a personal statement explaining how you will contribute to the experience of others on the programme, and how the Executive MBA programme will benefit you (600 words).
Q2: Describe what it would mean to you personally to be an alumnus of London Business School, what you believe membership of the community represents, and how you would give back to London Business School in the future (600 words).

In addition to the requirements listed above, all courses require those who are not native English speakers, or have not lived in an English speaking country for at least two years, to submit English Language test scores.d.

If you’re an undergraduate student and need support in meeting the entry requirements, then our university tutors can help you boost your grades.

Is LBS a prestigious university?

London Business School (LBS) is, in the eyes of many professionals around the world, the most prestigious business school in the UK, if not all of Europe. London Business School is one of the few postgraduate-only universities in the UK, and it regularly tops Oxford, Cambridge and LSE as the best university for MBAs, Master’s in Finance and Management, and related subjects. In fact, the Financial Times has ranked it number 1 for MSc Finance 5 years running.

Does London Business School have undergraduate business courses?

No. London Business School does not offer any undergraduate degrees. LBS specialises in postgraduate courses, including MScs, MBAs, PhDs and Executive education.

What courses are available at London Business School?

Finance Master’s courses:

Management Master’s courses:

MBA and Executive MBA:

PhD

Please note that the majority of LBS’ MSc programmes require less than 2 years of work experience (not including internships), however, MSc Finance requires at least 2 years of relevant, postgraduate work experience. The Global Master’s in Management requires one year in London and one year in Shanghai.

Does London Business School require the GMAT/GRE?

Yes. All courses at London Business school require you to have a competitive GMAT/GRE score. However, each year LBS offers a small number of waivers or exemptions for candidates with exceptional academic grades in a quantitative subject as well as excellent work experience.

You can also apply without a GMAT score and LBS will let you know whether you are required to take the GMAT (a conditional offer) or else give you a waiver.

What GMAT score do I need for London Business School?

London Business School’s average MBA GMAT score is 708 and the average MFA GMAT score is 689 for its 2023 cohorts.

Whilst the target score varies slightly from course to course, you will need to target a score above 600 in the GMAT, or a balanced score of 316 in the GRE. However, this would be the minimum acceptance score and you would need outstanding academic grades and work experience to get into London Business School with such a score.

Instead, we recommend that all candidates target a score of over 650. Interestingly, an ex-admissions officer of LBS once told me that only scores over 750 would significantly improve an application enough to compensate for other weaknesses.

To quickly understand GMAT scores, I suggest dividing your GMAT score by 10 and adding a percentage sign for a ‘quick conversion’ score, as I have listed in the table below.

GMAT score My quick conversion UK grade classification Chances of success
590 or lower 59% or lower A 2:2 or below Almost 0%.
600 60% A 2:1 Low. This is the minimum admissible score and you will require outstanding academic grades and work experience to compensate.
650 65% A good 2:1 Medium. This is slightly below the average score and you will likely need very strong academic grades (high 2:1 or 1st equivalent) and work experience, as well as a strong application and interview performance to get an offer.
700 70% A 1st class Average. This is a quality score and in line with the average score of successful applicants. You will still need strong grades, work experience and a strong performance in an interview to secure an offer, but you are in a good position.
750+ 75%+ A high 1st class High. Such a score would actively help you to get an offer, and might help to make up for other weaknesses such as a less strong academic performance in a quantitative exam, or less work experience than other candidates.

Working with The Profs can really help your application shine. Our experts advise students on how to stand out in all areas of their application. As a result, the average application from our students receives an offer that is 12 percentiles lower than the average GMAT score for other candidates.

Does London Business School accept GMAT and GRE?

Yes. LBS does not have a preference between GMAT or GRE, but the GMAT is slightly more common in the UK and Europe, so you will usually see GMAT scores being quoted by LBS.

For GMAT to GRE conversions, see this table.

Can The Profs help me to increase my GMAT or GRE score?

Yes! We strongly encourage all applicants to undergo an assessment with one of our top-rated GMAT tutors or GRE tutors before sitting their examination. The average student takes 10-20 hours to boost their score to over 650 and knowing the common tips, methods and tricks of the questions can quickly improve your score.

Does London Business School offer a GMAT waiver or exemption?

Yes. London Business School offers a GMAT waiver for academic excellence in quantitative subjects in addition to impressive work experience. Over the years I have helped roughly one in three of my students to receive a GMAT waiver, and my team and I have developed a couple of strategies to increase the chances of a student securing a waiver.

How to get a GMAT waiver or exemption to London Business School?

You will need to contact the department you are applying to (e.g. for the Master’s in Finance, the email address to contact is [email protected]). I suggest phoning the department first to ask for the correct email and explain why you think your grades and experience warrant a waiver.

You will then be asked to send over your CV. I recommend only requesting a waiver if you hold a 1st class degree (or international equivalent) and to highlight in your CV your highest mathematical grades at university level.

In my experience, GMAT waivers are more commonly offered to students who have completed their first degree in a quantitative subject and have above-average quality work experience at an impressive name-brand organisation, where they can demonstrate impact above and beyond what is typically expected of their age group.

Alternatively, if you have been out of education for many years, but have a job that requires frequent use of maths, LBS may consider this to be sufficient for a waiver.

Is it hard to get into London Business School?

Yes. London Business School is as difficult to get into as Oxford, Cambridge or LSE at postgraduate level. However, our students enjoy an 83% offer rate thanks to our experience preparing students over the years and expert knowledge of LBS’s unique requirements.

Does London Business School require a personal statement?

No. London Business School does not allow you to upload a general personal statement. However, every course has a ~500 word question that is similar to a personal statement. Typically “How will the help you to achieve your academic and professional goals?”.

This means you cannot (and should not!) copy and paste an application you have written for another university course. Instead, each course has its own set of career and leadership questions for you to answer. The Master’s in Management courses typically have between nine and thirteen 150-500 word questions for you to answer, whereas some of the Finance courses only ask you for two 500 word questions.

It is strongly advised that you create your applications account and review which questions you have been asked before you start writing your personal statement so that you can target the specific questions. The key to a successful LBS application is writing unique answers that you have not copy and pasted from another business school application.

What do you need to get into London Business School?

LBS requires you to answer between two and thirteen 150-500 word questions instead of uploading a typical personal statement. LBS also requires a competitive GMAT/GRE for all courses, although there is a waiver. In addition, you will need at least one professional reference and one other reference depending on the course. Finally, LBS requires you to have a good level of English. Note that LBS also interviews for all of its courses.

Does London Business School interview?

Yes! London Business School interviews for all courses. You will typically be offered an alumni interview or an online interview with a member of the admissions team. London Business School really makes an effort to get to know you through your application and will try to pair you with an alumni in a relevant field and, if possible, one who can meet with you for a coffee in your home country. Recently, we have noticed more and more interviews happening online rather than in-person.

Do you help with interview preparation for London Business School?

Yes, our experienced interview preparation tutors are a key part of the application process. London Business School will thoroughly read your application and a member of the admissions team will score each part of your application and pass on detailed notes to your interviewer – which can be as specific as, “The applicant’s career aspirations seem overly ambitious and potentially unrealistic. Please investigate.” Therefore, interview preparation begins with a strategic review of your strengths and weaknesses and how to shine a light on your strengths throughout the application process.

What are the most competitive courses at LBS?

All of LBS’s courses are extremely competitive, however the most competitive courses are its flagship courses: the LBS MBA and Master’s in Finance, both of which are repeatedly ranked number 1 in the Financial Times and Forbes rankings. LBS does not share its admissions statistics, but it is reported that the Master’s in Finance is between 10-20%.

However, because LBS requires a GMAT for all applications to be considered, the calibre of the average LBS applicant is higher than other universities which do not require this test to be taken, meaning this acceptance rate would likely be much lower if candidates could apply without a GMAT score. The Profs have expert tutors who can offer dedicated application support for each of these degree programmes and help you to reach the university grades required for entry.

What is the least competitive course at LBS?

At the time of writing, the 2-year Global Master’s in Management has a reported 33% acceptance rate. The second year of study is undertaken at the University of Shanghai. Many candidates are not prepared to invest the time and money required for a 2-year programme, or else unwilling to locate to Shanghai for a year, which causes this programme to see much lower application rates, and thus marginally lower standards than LBS’s other courses.

Is LBS a Russell Group university?

No. London Business School only provides postgraduate courses and is not a part of the Russell Group. However, any degree from London Business School should be considered as more prestigious than the majority of Russell Group universities, and just as prestigious as an equivalent qualification from Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL or LSE.

Insider information on London Business School

Through interviewing ex-admissions staff and alumni interviewers over the years, I have seen the detailed and thoughtful notes that the London Business School admissions team provide on applications. I was extremely impressed to see the level of detailed notes the admissions team provides to their alumni interviews to help prepare the interviewers and highlight weaknesses and unconvincing written answers to follow up on. This tells me that LBS wants to invest time in getting to know you and to understand your full potential before making a decision.

London Business School places a far greater weight on your softer skills (leadership, team working and communication) and career ambitions than many universities. Our insider information on LBS is that they explicitly mark your application for the following skills:

  • Ambition
  • Whether your career plan is realistically achievable
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership within teams
  • Team player
  • Impact in the workplace
  • Community work

The key to getting into London Business School is to explicitly target all of the ‘hidden’ criteria above.

Secondly, whilst all UK universities value and seek diversity, I would argue none more so than LBS. LBS wants a truly global cohort and network of alumni interviewers that invests in its societies and community. As such, if you are applying from a smaller, less represented country – especially in less represented geographical areas on their website, such as South America or Africa – it is worth emphasising your cultural identity and how you will actively bring representation to LBS (perhaps even bringing your own national dish to their famous ‘Foodies Club’).

9 tips for getting into London Business School

1. Download the application questions into a Google Doc before writing

London Business School’s application essays are numerous – especially for their Management degrees, where you have to write as many as thirteen 300-500 word answers. LBS does not allow you to submit a generic personal statement, although one of the longest questions they ask is very similar to a statement: “How will the programme help you to achieve your academic and professional goals?”

With so many questions to answer, it is important to have an application strategy. I recommend that my students first copy all the questions into a document and bullet point all of their answers before writing full sentences. This avoids duplication of content – with so many words to write, LBS allows you to provide many more selling points than other universities, and you should only repeat your very most impressive selling points (e.g. a 85% grade in a maths exam). Also, these bullet points allow you to quickly assess whether you have hit LBS’s ‘hidden criteria’.

2. Smash the hidden criteria

London Business School has hidden criteria that they do not explicitly tell you unless you attend their events (which you should attend!). Whilst our admissions consultants keep an up to date list of these criteria from ex-admissions staff and alumni interviews, I’ll share a couple of the hidden criteria here because I think it is important for all applicants to include this information so that LBS can make more informed decisions on who is best-suited for their courses.

Applying to London Business School is more like applying to an American university, as LBS values your leadership, teamwork, impact and community skills extremely highly. However, whilst you will be asked how you contribute to the community (see tip on community below), LBS do not explicitly ask questions on your impact or leadership.

In fact, most years they don’t ask for any written answers on your work experience, which I find perplexing! It is therefore important to think strategically about how you might include your work experience within their questions. I recommend including evidence of impact, leadership and teamwork skills in the following questions if you are asked them:

  • In 300 words or less, please tell us your most significant international experience(s) to date.
  • In 300 words or less, please describe your plan b career goals, telling us your plan b sector, role and function; and your motivation for this alternative goal.
  • How will the course help you to achieve your academic and professional goals?

Lastly, LBS wants to see ambition, but will also assess how realistic your plan is. If you say you will be a CEO of a major company within 10 years, LBS will mark you down unless you write a brilliant and convincing plan towards achieving this goal. See the next tip to understand how to make your career plan more convincing.

3. Have a solid 5-year career plan

LBS will ask you to provide your first choice employer after graduation, as well as your back up plan. This is usually one of the first (of very many!) questions LBS asks, showing the weight they place on it.

Avoid writing something generic such as ‘being an Investment Banker at Goldman Sachs’ or ‘Management Consultant at McKinsey’ as these responses, whilst ambitious, are generic and cliche. If you truly do want to apply to these employers, then write something specific that demonstrates you have done your research: e.g. ‘Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Graduate Programme (2 years), Leveraged Finance Desk, London under the supervision of Aaron Stone’.

This answer is much stronger because it highlights that you have thought about which programme, desk and even supervisor you will be targeting. This tells the admissions team that you are a serious candidate who does their research. However, I recommend avoiding these cliche answers altogether if possible and instead research a very specialised employer that is relevant to your desired career.

This allows you to introduce your desired specialism (e.g. data visualisation, exporting, supply chain management, etc.) and makes for a more authentic and interesting application than yet another McKinsey hopeful.

4. Community

London Business School values community greatly. You will be assessed on both your previous experience giving back to the community, and also by the contributions you can make to the school should you be awarded a place. LBS ask the vast majority of applicants a question on community (note the exact question will vary year to year and course to course), such as:

During your time as a student, how will you contribute to the school community? (400 words)

So how do you best demonstrate your community contributions? I recommend that you first provide 150 words on your most relevant community work to date – this could be charity work or giving your time for free to your university, workplace or school.

Then, with your remaining 250 words, show off in-depth research into LBS’s cultural and career societies and think carefully about which you can contribute to and how you could help others in your cohort to succeed. For example, have you successfully raised funding? Then research and join the Entrepreneurs Society and offer to share these insights with others, as well as your contacts. LBS wants to see what you will offer to your fellow students.

5. Networking

London Business School places such importance on networking that they often include two questions testing it. Firstly, whether you have met any staff from the university, and secondly, whether you know any alumni. Answering ‘no’ to either question shows your lack of effort and is a hard no! Instead, attend one of the many open days and virtual open days, take note of the admissions team, and name drop that you have attended these events. LBS will share even more tips, such as those found throughout this post, which you can use to your advantage to gain a place.

Secondly, get onto LinkedIn and reach out to an alumni – ask them some questions and include their name in your application. I don’t ask my students to complete these exercises to game the system, but instead because there is immense value in learning from open days and alumni which can help students to make better-informed choices as to whether LBS is right for them and their career goals!

6. Prepare for the GMAT early – and consider a waiver

A higher GMAT score will help your application. Our average successful student invests 20 hours of tuition into their GMAT score, with many going over 40 hours, in addition to their independent study. If you do not have a mathematical background, the GMAT score will be particularly important in assessing whether you will be able to keep up with the more quantitative courses.

If you already have a strong quantitative background, you can apply for a waiver by submitting your CV to the relevant department.

7. Pick the right cycle to apply

London Business School has multiple cycles with applications, interview and decision deadlines for each course (note that these cycles are different from course to course, so always check the relevant course page on their website). All universities advise that you apply as early as possible for the best results.

In my experience, this is not always the best advice. As a general rule, the first cycle is the most competitive and should be avoided; candidates who have their GMAT and full application ready early in the cycle are highly likely to be the most prepared and may have spent an entire year perfecting their application. Unless you are an above-average candidate, I do not recommend competing with these strong candidates. Instead, I recommend applying on the first day of the middle cycle(s).

I would also avoid the final cycle as places will be most limited and many very strong applicants with great work experience apply last minute, usually because a job offer has fallen through.

Most importantly, it is almost always worth waiting for one more cycle in order to improve your application, boost your GMAT score, and apply early within that cycle, rather than rush to meet the end of a cycle and submit a suboptimal application. If you are interested in more advice on applications strategy, contact The Profs’ team.

8. University research is essential

London Business School asks you to submit one of the longest application forms in the world. They are willing to invest time in getting to know you – meaning it is equally important that you show you have spent time getting to know LBS, their courses and wider opportunities. If your application is superficial (or worse still, copied and pasted from your generic LSE or Imperial personal statement), you are highly unlikely to receive an offer.

Instead, look at the course page (here I link the Master’s in Financial Analysis). There is so much information for you to talk about in your application – from electives, to an entire additional term, to skills programmes and a global challenge week. You’ll want to demonstrate your enthusiasm for their opportunities and align them with your career goals throughout your application to stand out from the crowd.

9. Research your alumni interviewer

London Business School’s interviews are very different from typical UK university interviews because they are commonly conducted by an ex-student. Whether your interview is conducted online or in-person, and by an alumni or a member of the admissions team, makes a huge difference in how you should prepare for the interview.

If you are meeting with an alumni, I recommend putting at least 30 minutes into finding them on LinkedIn and understanding their own role. As a general rule, you want to keep an alumni interviewer talking about their experience as much as possible, whilst asking questions on how their LBS experience helped to prepare them for their career! We also have articles on how to prepare for postgraduate interviews and common postgraduate interview questions which you may find useful. The Profs also offer experienced university interview tutors for mock interviews.

How can we help?

We want you to succeed! We have expert London Business School admissions consultants, like me, who can guide you through the minefield of applying to LBS, as well as Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL, and other top global business schools.

In this post, I have shared just a fraction of our application strategies (as well as the pitfalls to avoid that will cost you a place!). Over 90% of our applicants receive an offer from their first or second choice universities, and we can support you with everything from your application to your wider postgraduate education. Get in touch with our friendly team today to access our dedicated support.