Criteria and Application Tips

SMU Cox is a diverse microcosm representative of the world’s best and brightest minds.

By design, we recruit students with diverse educational backgrounds, work experiences, and personal aspirations and who are all strongly committed to advancing their careers.

Your application, supporting documents, and personal interview are very important in the selection process. We hope that you will provide us with the most complete and honest picture of yourself.

Admission to SMU Cox is highly selective. We seek candidates who demonstrate the following qualities and characteristics:

  • A strong potential for success in today's global business environment
  • Demonstrated analytical capabilities
  • Leadership experience
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Outstanding academic achievement and potential

Tips for Completing the Application Process 
Read the following tips under each application element found on the left-side menu bar. 

Application Deadlines

2023 - 2024 Deadlines
Round Application Due
(11:59pm CST)
Decision Delivered Enrollment Deposit Deadline
1* October 3, 2023 November 17, 2023 December 14, 2023
2* January 3, 2024 February 23, 2024 March 21, 2024
3 February 27, 2024 April 5, 2024 May 2, 2024
4 April 30, 2024 May 31, 2024 Two weeks after admission
Rolling Admissions after April 30, 2024

*Priority deadline for scholarships and fellowships

Application Checklist

Your completed application must contain the following:

  • Online application (no application fee)
  • Professional résumé
  • Essays
  • Optional GMAT, GRE or EA test scores, taken within the last five years
  • Unofficial transcripts (required from any college or university where you attempted 12 or more credit hours)
  • Two professional references (names and contact information only, no letters)
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (international applicants only) *Optional for 2023 entry terms
  • Interviews, by invitation only

Admission decisions are typically made before the next round deadline.

*SMU Cox accepts unofficial copies of scores and transcripts in the application for evaluative purposes. If you are admitted to Cox, you are required to submit official GMAT/GRE scores, official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores (international applicants only), and official transcripts within 30 days of your enrollment deposit. Cox reserves the right to rescind an offer of admission should any misrepresentation occur.

Work Experience

Candidates are required to have a minimum of two years of full-time work experience; however, most admitted students have between three and six years of work experience after completing their bachelor's degrees. We strongly recommend you accurately highlight your key accomplishments in your resume and discuss your career progression in your essays. Most admitted students have work experience in which they have demonstrated the ability to work in teams, solve problems, resolve conflict, and manage people, projects, and budgets. Please note your progression within a company as well as the responsibilities you have on a daily basis.


Your resume outlines your career progression and highlights significant accomplishments. It demonstrates that you can communicate with brevity in another business-oriented format. Take some time to think about and write down some of the key "wins" or accomplishments you've had in each role. Use that list to create your bullet points - where possible, quantify your achievements rather than letting your resume simply be a regurgitation of your job description. We are looking for a one-page, results oriented resume that shows the impact you have had on the various organizations you have worked for. You should highlight your work experiences, extra-curricular activities, and education.         

Educational Experience

We require a completed undergraduate degree for admission. We find that our students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, which could also include previous graduate degrees.

We will thoroughly assess undergraduate and graduate transcripts, for all institutions attended where you attempted 12 credit hours or more, to obtain an understanding of your educational experience.  We will look to see what types of classes you took and how well you did in them. We do not require any particular classes as prerequisites, but like to see students with some quantitative coursework.

If your degree was not obtained in the United States, you should apply with the equivalent type of degree; if you are unsure if your degree qualifies please work with an evaluation service for an assessment. If your original transcripts are not issued by your university in English, a certified translation will be required along with the original document in the school's official language. For students who attended an international institution - please note that we do accept the 3-year undergraduate degree as equivalent.

You will attach unofficial transcripts to your online application. If you are admitted to the program, you will need to submit official transcripts and test scores as a term of your enrollment


For 2023 entry terms, SMU Cox will continue a test-optional policy for all MBA and Specialized Master's programs. For the benefits of taking a test, click here to learn more


SMU Cox accepts the EA, GRE and GMAT. The Admissions Committee will focus on your highest total score as we review your overall candidacy. The Admissions Committee does not have a preference on which test you take, so we encourage you to take the exam on which you will perform best. Keep in mind that some careers and industries do prefer one exam over the other, so if you have questions about which exam you should take, you can contact the Admissions Team at


Students whose native language is not English may choose to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). TOEFL scores are valid for two years. Our TOEFL institution code is 6660.

The IELTS may be taken in place of TOEFL.

If your score report is more than two years old, it is no longer valid. We do not accept any other score reports other than what is listed above.


The Admissions Committee uses your essays to evaluate several aspects of your candidacy. Your essays tell us a great deal about your career aspirations and what has shaped your life to this point, and also demonstrate your written communication skills. Be sure to take time to think about and carefully craft your essay responses.

The essay questions for the 2023 application cycle are as follows:
Full-Time Two-Year MBA and J.D./MBA Candidates
1. SMU Cox is a close-knit community that values teamwork. Our students are put in study groups within their cohort to build leadership and collaboration skills. What are five things you would like your study group to know about you? (500 words or less)

2. What are your short-term post-MBA career goals (including the target industry, sector, and/or organization) and your long-term ambitions? (100 words or less)

If you are reapplying to the same program after a previous admissions cycle, you are required to submit the following additional essay.

Discuss what have you done since your last application to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words or less)

Masters of Arts dual degree candidates (MA/MBA):
1. How do you plan to make an impact on the arts/non-profit community and how specifically would your graduate education help you do so? (250 word limit)

2. Tell us about a time in the past three years your opinion about an arts/non-profit organization was changed and how. (250 word limit) 

Optional Essay:
Candidates often ask if they should utilize the optional essay. If you have a unique experience to share with us that is not reflected elsewhere in your application, or if you have work gaps, academic problems or other issues that you would like to address, you should take advantage of submitting an optional essay. We strongly suggest you identify any issues upfront and address them here rather than wait and disclose them in person. If none of those situations pertain to you, please do not feel pressured to submit the supplemental essay simply to fill space.


Once your application is completed, submitted, and reviewed, the Admissions Committee may issue you an invitation to interview. We use the interview to get to know you and learn more about your background before making a final decision, which means it is an important part of assessing candidates for admission. Personal interaction gives you the opportunity to present key aspects of your background, personality, and career aspirations not easily communicated in writing. It also gives us an opportunity to hear about your career goals, why you want an MBA, and how you believe a Cox degree will help you in your career.

The SMU Cox Full-Time MBA Programs utilize a two-round interview process by invitation only. The first-round interview will be conducted by a member of the Admissions team. As SMU Cox believes that the Career Management Center (CMC) is also an important stakeholder in your MBA journey, you may be invited to participate in a second-round interview with a member of the CMC. All interviews may be conducted virtually or in-person and generally last between 30-45 minutes.


The Cox MBA Admissions Committee does not require applicants to submit letters of recommendation. Instead, we ask you to submit the names (with applicable contact information) of two people who could serve as professional references if needed during the review process. We will only contact those individuals if we have questions about your background that are otherwise not answered in your resume and essays. We will only contact references after notifying you so you can give your reference advance notice that we will be contacting them. The best references are those who know you in a professional capacity, such as current or former supervisors. 


Next Steps

Have a question? Join us for an upcoming event to learn more about our MBA programs.