ApplicantLab Review — Is It Worth It for Non-MBA Applicants?

I got into a Top 10 Business School for less than $300, and you can too — whether you’re applying for an MMS degree or another graduate business program!

Austin Carroll
11 min readMay 25, 2020

Congratulations! If you’ve determined an MBA isn’t for you, you may be looking into multiple graduate business programs at business schools around the world. 🎉

You may be looking to specialize in a particular skill set like Business Analytics or supplement a non-business undergraduate degree:

  • Masters of Business Studies (MMS)
  • Master of Business Analytics
  • Master of Quantitative Management (MQM)
  • Master of Science in Marketing
  • Master of Accountancy

Although all of these degree programs offer many exciting opportunities, non-MBA graduate degrees in Business are still relatively new. Until very recently, most business schools only offered MBA and Ph.D. degrees. In the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion in non-MBA Masters programs!

However, that doesn’t mean applying to them is easy:

Let me tell you, I’ve worked in admissions at a Top 10 Business School and I can tell you that sometimes a Masters of Business Analytics program may be harder to get into than their full-time MBA program!

As many people apply to these programs after undergraduate with little work experience, unchangeable aspects of your application like your undergraduate institution’s brand name, GPAs, test scores, and extracurriculars matter a lot. More than if you were applying to an MBA program with 3+ years of work experience.

If you happened to have a bad junior year or weren’t involved in many extracurriculars or internships, the only way to ensure you get accepted to a top graduate business school is to have a dynamite application. 🔥

However, if you’ve happened on this page, you have probably realized that there just aren’t many resources to help you apply to these other graduate business programs.

Applying for non-MBA programs can feel a bit like this:

That’s where ApplicantLab comes in (thankfully!). The service bills itself simply as ‘Admissions Consulting 2.0’, and it comes at an extremely affordable price — less than $300.

Created for MBA applicants, the web application has many features that can teach you how to navigate the perilous journey of applying to business school. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for an MMS, a Masters in Business Analytics, or another Business Masters degree, ApplicantLab can help! 🧪

When I started thinking about applying to business school in June of 2017(!), I was entirely on my own. If asked, I probably couldn’t name a single person who I knew who had gone to, graduated, or even considered going to business school.

In June of 2017, I frankly didn’t even know where to start. After a quick Google search, I found myself on several “Free 30-Minute” Admissions Consultant calls the following week. These ‘sales’ calls were intended to sell me on a service, although I was dismayed to find it was at a price I couldn’t even begin to pay (👋 non-profit employee). When they weren’t trying to convince me to hand over my savings, they were using the oldest trick in the book — scare tactics. One consultant told me, in no uncertain terms, there was no way I would get into a Top 25 Business School, “if my application wasn’t flawless.”

If that was true, ApplicantLab’s essential admissions advice and easy-to-use platform truly made my business school applications “FLAWLESS.” ✨ In 2018, I was thrilled to receive acceptances from all three business schools I applied to. After each of these acceptances, I quickly sent a thank you note to Maria, Founder of ApplicantLab.

I find it unbelievable that more people do not know ApplicantLab exists! Then again, behind all the technology, we’re still very much a generation of skeptics. 👾

I know you are probably thinking — “Could a web application geared towards MBAs help me get into another graduate business program?

The short answer: Yes!

I have had the privilege of interviewing applicants for non-MBA graduate programs at a Top 10 Business School, and I’ve seen the many mistakes they have made. From poor resume formating to having no earthly idea what their career goals are, I’ve seen applicants do it all. 😭

Don’t let this happen to you!

I can assure you that ApplicantLab’s system will not only lead you step-by-step but also empower you to craft your most compelling business school applications and succeed in your interviews. Unbelievably, all of this for less than the price of a weekend getaway.

What is ApplicantLab?

ApplicantLab’s platform — accessible from any web browser!

ApplicantLab is a virtual platform with interactive exercises and extensive, tailored videos to mimic the same advice process provided by pricey 1-on-1 consultants. It’s a computer-adaptive sequence (kind of like the GMAT) that walks you through everything you need to do to craft a robust application. It’s a much more advanced version of the “free” advice articles you may find on the web.

I know it may seem counterintuitive to get admissions advice from a web application. However, it’s a major perk! I cannot imagine being deep into an essay question and having to *pause* for up to 24 hours to run an idea by a Traditional Admissions consultant.

On ApplicantLab, all of the advice is there waiting to be accessed at any time from any computer. Whether you’re finishing up finals, on your lunch break at your internship, or have a 3 am flash of inspiration, ApplicantLab’s expert admissions advice is ready whenever (and wherever!) you are. You won’t waste time waiting for a response the way you would with a traditional admissions consultant. This ease of access enabled me to write my entire USC Marshall application in about three days. An unheard of duration to craft a complete business school application.

Why Should You Trust the Advice in ApplicantLab?

ApplicantLab is the only admissions service endorsed by the Harvard Business School student newspaper. It also casually was the “Audience Favorite” winner at the prestigious HBS New Venture Competition.

Plus, Maria, the mastermind behind ApplicantLab, has 15+ years of MBA Admissions consulting experience, is an HBS graduate, and was a former AIGAC Board Member (Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants).

ApplicantLab is also the ONLY Admissions service that employs a former MMS (Master of Management Studies) Interviewer who worked at a Top 10 Business School. 👍 Don’t worry about only getting advice for MBA programs, ApplicantLab has hours of content relevant for MMS and other business graduate programs applications.

How Does ApplicantLab Work?

The ApplicantLab Platform — A Comprehensive View of All The ApplicantLab Modules

ApplicantLab breaks down the application process into 3 Steps:

  1. Identifying how to deal with your weaknesses
  2. Uncovering the key messages and strengths you want to convey
  3. Using concrete experiences and stories as the foundation for everything you communicate throughout the application process not just in the essays, but also in the recommendations, and later during the interview process

ApplicantLab differs from existing online offerings in two key ways: first of all, the content delivered is tailored to each user, based upon the information you enter about yourself. This saves you time so that you don’t need to read through the information that isn’t relevant to you.

Secondly, almost the entire platform is interactive — you do the strategizing, brainstorming, branding, outlining, and writing exercises directly in the browser. For example, one of the first steps is an interactive tool to guide you on how to address weaknesses in your profile.

One of my favorite ApplicantLab “Modules” — An interactive look into what an Admissions Committee may think of your profile.

The early exercises establish a strong foundation and help you develop your specific stories from which all of your application materials will be built. You’ll then move through various steps to write your essays, craft your graduate program resume, work with your recommenders, and ace the interview.

This ‘brainstorming’ process is very similar to what you would do with a traditional admissions consultant — without scheduling 10 hours of lengthy phone conversations. #WhoHasTimeForThat

Is ApplicantLab Really Worth It for Non-MBA Programs?

ApplicantLab is genuinely one of a kind. There is simply no other way to access admissions advice this good, this comprehensive, at such a reasonable price for any graduate business program.

The Complete ApplicantLab System

ApplicantLab Includes:

  • Ace Your Interview: ApplicantLab includes an entire module with Interview frameworks, hours of video content, and advice to ensure you rock your interview for any program. Remember, the interview is often the deciding factor between those that get in and those that are rejected!
  • School-Specific Guidance: Access a wealth of advice and extensive, tailored videos for each of the Top 25 Business Schools. Learn, what they look for in a candidate, what their unique school culture is, and how you can tailor your application accordingly.
  • Video Essay Guidance: Learn how to edit and produce a good-looking admissions video
  • Advice for Creating Your ‘Why This Program’ and ‘Career Vision’ Rationals: According to Maria, the #1 reason otherwise competitive candidates get rejected is due to a career vision / “why this degree?” rationale that is weak, vague or bores the AdCom into a coma. The “Career Vision” and “Why MBA?” modules work hand-in-hand to help you create a strong rationale that you will use across every application. Don’t worry about the title “Why MBA” — the advice works for all graduate business programs just plug in “Why MMS,” etc. 😄
ApplicantLab walks you step-by-step in creating your ‘Career Vision.’
  • How to Find Your Strongest Stories: ApplicantLab helps you brainstorm your most compelling stories and gives you a framework to analyze and judge them so you can best match each story to each school you’re applying to.
  • Letters of Recommendation Advice & Template: ApplicantLab provides you with a wonderful downloadable template to give your recommender that you can fill in with your STAR stories.
  • How to Create a Perfect 1-Page Resume: The resume is more important than the essays (!!!), and you cannot simply recycle the same resume you used to get your last internship. This module walks you through, step-by-step, key “do’s” and “don’ts.” Hint — It’s about the accomplishments and not your duties.
  • How to Fill Out Those Pesky Application Forms
  • A Strengths & Weaknesses Diagnosis Report: Find out what Admissions may think of your profile with just a 1-minute quiz. (This was my favorite part)
  • And much much more…

Is ApplicantLab Right For You?

If you work hard, tend to be a self-starter, and like to take your future in your hands, you must be an aspiring graduate business school student. 😉 Seriously though, most aspiring to a Masters degree in Business will find that ApplicantLab is the perfect fit for their busy schedule, goal-driven nature, and confidence.

ApplicantLab can be utilized at any point in your application journey. You can start planning your application stories six months in advance, use ApplicantLab just for essay-writing a month out, or take advantage of the InterviewLab up to a day before your interview.

No matter who you are, ApplicantLab’s can help you leverage your own unique stories to create your most compelling application. Yes, that means ApplicantLab can help you even if you:

  • Have little Internship / Work Experience
  • Have a Low GMAT/GRE or Have a Low GPA
  • Don’t Have a ‘Blue Chip’ College or Employer on your profile.
  • Too Young / Too Old
  • Have no Formal “Leadership” / Have no Community Service
  • Did not participate in Extracurriculars during college
  • Are a Reapplicant

However, ApplicantLab is not a perfect fit for everyone. If you desire a more one-on-one experience with a consultant or you are an international student without a firm grasp of the English language that needs extensive polish work on your essays, you may want to look into more traditional consultants. Of course, if you don’t have much luck with computers or are unable to connect to the internet: 1. How are you reading this article? 2. ApplicantLab is probably not for you.

How Much Does ApplicantLab Cost?

Unlike Traditional Consultants that goad you into multi-school packages with surprise add-on’s like mock interviews and interview prep, ApplicantLab’s pricing module is simple.

ApplicantLab charges only $299 for the full system, 1-year access, and advice on an unlimited amount of schools. Not only do most admissions consultants charge more than $300 for just one hour of their time, but they also charge you thousands more for advice on each school. With ApplicantLab, you can access advice for dozens of schools for the same price.

Already applied to business school? ApplicantLab offers access to just the Interview prep modules for only $50. The InterviewLab provides step-by-step guidance on how to answer all of the standard questions you are likely to face in the interview at any business school program — MMS, Masters of Marketing, and Masters of Business Analytics. ✅

Final Thoughts.

In conclusion, when I was applying to business school, ApplicantLab made me feel:

Not to mention, confident! Throughout the application process, I felt like I had the entire ApplicantLab team behind me every step of the way, supporting me and willing me to succeed. I am so excited to be attending my dream business school, and I owe it all to ApplicantLab for teaching me and empowering me to present my stories in a way that stood out and was authentic!

With dozens of five-star reviews on GMAT Club, ApplicantLab is undoubtedly worth a try as you consider how you will build your graduate business applications next year.

Luckily, ApplicantLab offers a risk-free FREE trial of the full platform and the InterviewLab with no credit card required. Sign up today!

About The Author:

My name is Austin and I currently attend Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (Class of 2021). This article is sponsored in part by ApplicantLab. However, all opinions and ideas depicted in this article are entirely my own. I really used ApplicantLab to get into Duke Fuqua (and I would do it again)!



Austin Carroll

Hello! My name is Austin & I am a product manager, career coach, and podcast host.