List of MBA Conferences for 2019

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Those considering a graduate education in business may benefit from attending an MBA conference or fair. These admissions and networking events are held in dozens of cities across the United States and around the world where aspiring MBAs can meet representatives from many business schools in a single location.

MBA fairs are all about personal connections. School gatekeepers travel to these events to meet well-qualified applicants. Moreover, the savviest candidates understand that connecting in a personal way with a school’s admissions team can award those applicants with their most critical advantage in the entire admissions process: a great lasting impression.

In some cases, impressions gained through these personal connections can practically guarantee admission to a top school. Consider this anecdote from Emma Bond, a former senior admissions manager at the London Business School and currently a director with the admissions consulting firm Fortuna Admissions:

I was at an MBA fair in Seoul. I met a Japanese-Brazilian working in South Korea with a background in automotive manufacturing. He was professional, engaging and friendly, and had an interesting international profile that was a good LBS fit, but he didn’t have great stats. So when he later applied I actually remembered him and the impression he’d made and was able to say, ‘Yes, this guy is great, he’d contribute,’ and he was eventually offered a place.

Encounters like these embody the ultimate aspiration of any prospective MBA applicant. Leaving this kind of lasting, face-to-face impression with an admissions officer can prove invaluable.

“The dialogue that occurs is often much richer if you are present with somebody in person,” says Kelly Wilson, the executive admissions director at the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business. “I can get a better sense for who a candidate is in person, I believe, than I can over the phone or via email.”

About the BSchools Featured MBA Fairs and Events for 2019

Below appear the major MBA fairs and conferences scheduled in 2019, mainly in the spring. Only a handful of organizations stage the vast majority of the events, which the sponsors typically organize into multi-city tours with dates following in rapid succession across continents.

The BSchools.org schedule emphasizes those fairs taking place in nations with large English-speaking populations; similar fairs in many other global venues also appear on the tour sponsors’ websites.

The QS World MBA Tour

  • Audience: All MBA aspirants
  • Cost: $5 with pre-registration online, $15 collected at the event

Nunzio Quacquarelli founded tour sponsor Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) in 1990 while still an MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Called “the most prestigious M.B.A. fair in the world” by U.S. News and World Report, the QS World MBA Tour claims to be the world’s most extensive series of recruitment and information fairs for business school applicants.

Fifty-two universities participated in the North American leg of the tour in the spring of 2018, although not every business school exhibited at every city. Nonetheless, London-based QS appears to provide opportunities not found at similar events. For example, QS offers a $7 million scholarship fund exclusively for fair attendees, and certain schools also waive their application fee for attendees as well. QS also provides program rankings and in-depth research support at their fairs and on their websites.

Locations & Dates (Spring, 2019):

QS Connect 1-2-1 MBA Events

  • Audience: All MBA aspirants
  • Cost: Free

QS Connect 1-2-1 MBA events offer registrants the opportunity to sign up during the week before the event for 30-minute personal meetings with school admissions directors, one-on-one. The QS website suggests that the schools currently signed to offer these meetings include Cambridge University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the University of Chicago, INSEAD, the London Business School, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Although these meetings are free, places are limited and require advance registration. Note that QS doesn’t necessarily offer these events on the same dates or in the same locations as their MBA fairs.

Locations & Dates (Spring, 2019):

QS Women in Leadership MBA Events

  • Audience: Women MBA aspirants
  • Cost: Free

The QS Women in Leadership MBA Events highlight the career benefits for women by pursuing an MBA, and attempt to answer the question: “Is an MBA the right choice for me?” Through panel debates, business school presentations, and roundtable discussions, attendees also benefit from networking opportunities with future business leaders. Places are limited and require registration. Similar to the Connect 1-2-1 events, QS doesn’t necessarily offer these events on the same dates or in the same locations as their MBA fairs.

Locations & Dates (Spring, 2019):

Poets & Quants CentreCourt MBA Festival 2019

  • Audience: All MBA aspirants
  • Cost: Free

Two business school authorities designed the 2019 CentreCourt tour for MBA applicants. The first authority is John Byrne, editor-in-chief of Poets & Quants and former editor-in-chief of both Businessweek.com and Fast Company magazine. The second is Fortuna Admissions founder Matt Symonds, a bestselling author and columnist for Forbes and The Economist, who was Nunzio Quacquarelli’s partner for eight years at Quacquarelli Symonds.

The 2017 CentreCourt tour featured deans, admissions directors and representatives from 32 of the world’s top 40 MBA programs. Besides meet-and-greet receptions with every school’s admissions team, the schedule offered panel discussions with deans and admissions directors. (Check out these videos with the deans and ADs discussing MBA admissions secrets at the 2017 San Francisco fair.)

At the March 2018 fair in London, attendees even witnessed a committee of admissions officers from the Harvard Business School, London Business School, University of Virginia, and INSEAD evaluate the likelihood of admission for specific candidates in the audience.

Locations & Dates (Spring, 2019):

  • London, February 9
  • Washington, DC, March 28
  • New York City, March 30
  • San Francisco, June 15

The MBA Tour

  • Audience: All MBA aspirants
  • Cost: Free

Founded in 1993, The MBA Tour hosts more than 60 MBA events per year in over 30 countries. This sponsor traditionally vets school representatives to ensure they’re full-time staff members, which enables prospective students to interact with actual admissions decision makers. However, the fair component only accounts for about a third of the conference; the primary component centers around panel discussions on topics like how admissions officers evaluate applications. Schools host information session receptions; smaller or lesser known institutions offer group discussions. Select schools can contact registrants they believe would fit their programs for “MeetUps,” individual or small group meetings with admission officers. The organization also offers a free app for the iPhone and iPad.

Locations & Dates (Spring, 2019):

Access MBA

  • Audience: All MBA aspirants
  • Cost: Free upon online registration

Paris-based Access MBA provides opportunities for prospective students to meet in person with admissions directors from international business schools. At the time of this writing in December 2018, almost all of the 26 featured full-time programs hail from Europe, except for a very few from Asia and North America.

The sponsor offers meetings with admissions officers in both small group and 20-minute one-on-one formats. Events also present panel discussions featuring alumni as well as school representatives. Moreover, attendees can obtain guidance from Access MBA’s consulting team, along with information about scholarships and GMAT testing.

Locations & Dates (Spring, 2019):

National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) 2019 Student Conference and Career Fair

  • Audience: Women MBA aspirants
  • Cost: To be announced

The National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) has announced this student conference, but details were not yet available at the time of this writing. View this description of the group’s 2017 annual meeting.

Locations & Dates (2019):

  • Philadelphia, February 28 – March 2

LGBTQ MBA Admissions Summit & Expo

  • Audience: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender MBA aspirants
  • Cost: Free

The Reaching Out MBA Foundation focuses on educating, inspiring and connecting the student and alumni lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender MBA and graduate communities in an ongoing effort to create the next generation of business leaders. The organization claims this to be the largest LGBT MBA and graduate student gathering in the world.

The schedule includes panels, coffee chats with admissions officers and students, and a cocktail mixer for pre-MBA attendees and school admissions officers. They also host an LGBT MBA Admissions Fair with over 30 MBA programs, many of which participate in the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship.

Locations & Dates (2019):

  • Atlanta, October 10-12

Closing Thoughts on MBA Fairs and Events

Irrespective of which MBA fairs aspirants attend, all these events offer opportunities for personal connections and lasting impressions with admissions officers. It’s never wise to underestimate the value of those connections because in some cases, like the London Business School example above, lasting impressions can pave the way to admission at a top school.

Douglas Mark
Douglas Mark
Writer

While a partner in a San Francisco marketing and design firm, for over 20 years Douglas Mark wrote online and print content for the world’s biggest brands, including United Airlines, Union Bank, Ziff Davis, Sebastiani, and AT&T. Since his first magazine article appeared in MacUser in 1995, he’s also written on finance and graduate business education in addition to mobile online devices, apps, and technology. Doug graduated in the top 1 percent of his class with a business administration degree from the University of Illinois and studied computer science at Stanford University.

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