MBA Fairs and Tours: How To Maximize the Opportunity

Many applicants look at MBA fairs and don’t see the value. After all… who really enjoys hotel convention centers? But given the importance of networking with your target MBA programs, it is important to learn as much as possible about a school in a way that goes beyond reading the course catalog and looking at the school’s website. MBA fairs and multi-school events can be a great way to network with schools, which will enrich your essays and application materials. And they’ll often be held in a city near you.

Where can I find MBA Fairs?

Several organizations run quality MBA fairs and tours. The event that attracts the highest number of top schools is the CentreCourt MBA Festival run by Poets&Quants. Recent events have included MIT Sloan, Darden, Kellogg, Yale SOM, Ross, IESE, and others. John Byrne, who organizes these events, always manages to find great event spaces in addition to recruiting top schools, making CentreCourt events a very enjoyable experience.

Another common fair is the QS World Top MBA Tour. While it is near-ubiquitous, one should be forewarned that the MBA programs attending are often lower ranked. For example, at their flagship event in New York 2019, the list of schools attending included University of Alabama, Georgia State, and UC Irvine. If these are your target schools, this event can be valuable to you, but if you are targeting higher ranked schools you should check the list of participating schools carefully before you book your tickets.

The third organization worth mentioning is Access MBA. The quality of the schools in attendance varies from city to city, so take this one on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, for women, there are the Forté Forums, which bring together students, alumnae and admissions officers from top schools to teach you about the value of an MBA. If one of these events is near you, then you owe it to yourself to attend.

Forte Foundation MBA forum event

In addition to these organizations, there are also multi-school events which are organized directly by the MBA programs themselves without for-profit sponsors. These can be found on the events pages of individual schools (which is also a way to find single-school information sessions, too).

What are the Advantages of Attending MBA Fairs?

There are a number of good reasons to attend MBA Fairs.

CentreCourt MBA Fair registration badge

When I attended CentreCourt, I visited some schools and not others. Every school that scanned my badge sent an email telling me “David, we were so happy to meet you at CentreCourt!” On the other hand, every school that didn’t scan my badge sent a note to say “David, we were so sorry to have missed you at CentreCourt.” Your interest is logged in the school’s database and they will not forget.

What Are the Disadvantages of MBA Fairs?

If you plan on attending MBA fairs, you should be aware of some of the drawbacks of the format.

How to Maximize the Value of MBA Fairs