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TOEFL and IELTS guidelines

Attention international applicants:

Although most international applicants choose to take the TOEFL, some choose to take the IELTS to satisfy the Ohio State University Graduate School’s requirements for English proficiency at time of application. Either TOEFL or IELTS are perfectly acceptable when applying to the Fisher PhD program. If you plan to submit TOEFL scores for your application, we recommend at least 100 overall and at least 24 on the speaking subsection to be minimally competitive. For those of you that plan to take the IELTS exam in lieu of the TOEFL, an overall band score of 7.0 and 7.0 on the speak section of the IELTS is what we recommend to be minimally competitive.

Is one of your references MIA?

Is a missing reference the last piece of your application puzzle?

We have received a few inquiries from applicants who have submitted their applications and one or more of their listed references have not completed the online recommendation form.  We generally get a question like this:  “I listed a professor/former supervisor as a reference in my application and it appears his/her reference is the only one missing. I am unable to get in touch with him/her, as s/he no longer works at my company (or is at the university) and I am afraid s/he may have forgotten about my reference for my application. Can I select another person in his/her place in order to complete my application?”

You have two options.

Option 1 – replacing reference with an electronic reference

If you wish to replace the missing reference with an electronic reference, send an email to Include your full name and email address – specifically, the name and email address you used when you submitted your application. Also include your applicant ID number if available. In your email, include the follwing information:

  • First Name of your recommender
  • Last Name of your recommender
  • Email address for your recommender
  • Relationship to your recommender (e.g. supervisor, professor, etc.)
  • Your recommender’s job title
  • Your recommender’s place of employment (e.g. company, university name, etc.)
  • The number of years and months your recommender has known you

Option 2 – replacing reference with a paper reference

If you wish to replace the missing reference with an paper reference, you do not need to change anything on your submitted application. Simply download and print the paper reference form, complete/sign/date page 1 of the form and provide both page 1 and 2 to your reference with a stamped, addressed envelope. (For the mailing address, it is critical you use the following address: PHD ADMISSIONS; 100 Gerlach Hall; 2108 Neil Ave; Columbus OH 43210-1144.)

If this situation applies to you, I hope this information helps! Let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help!

Why wait? Applying before your references are ready *is* a good idea

Waiting may be exciting but waiting for your references before you apply isn't a good use of your time

We have received several inquiries during the past couple of weeks from soon-to-be applicants. They told us they’re waiting to submit their applications because they’re waiting for all of their references to be completed before they submit their applications.

Here’s some advice – don’t wait to submit your application. Once you’ve completed your application and you’ve uploaded your essay responses and your updated resume, the only thing left before you submit your application is to list your references in your application. After you do this, you are ready to submit. You do not gain any advantage on waiting for your references to submit their recommendations before you submit your application. Although the admission committee will not review your application before it is complete (including receipt of all required references and/or required test scores), you will help to speed up the processing of your application by submitting it as soon as you are able. If there are any materials submitted to us on your application after you submit your application (e.g. references, GRE or GMAT scores, etc.), we will match those materials to your already-submitted application. Your application will be processed more quickly this way than waiting for everything to be “done” before submitting your application.

Waiting may be “exciting” – but, truth be told, waiting to submit your application until everything else has been submitted isn’t a good idea!

Dec 17 PhD application deadline is fast approaching

Application deadline is fast approaching - don't wait to submit your application!

Seems just like yesterday we were working on updating the 2011 PhD application …

This is a quick note to remind everyone the December 17 application deadline for autumn 2011 is fast approaching. If you wish to be considered for autumn 2011, please try to submit your application by this date.

If I apply after December 17, will my file be reviewed for an admission decision?

It depends on when you submit your application and when it is complete. Each department runs its application review process differently but, generally speaking, most Fisher PhD programs make their admissions decisions in February and March for autumn term. So if your application is complete by the end of January, there is still a good chance that your file will be reviewed by your program’s of interest admissions committee. The longer you wait to submit your application, the smaller your window of opportunity is with regards to having your file reviewed for an admission decision.

If most departments don’t make their admissions decisions until February-March, why does the December 17 deadline exist?

A small handful of applicants might be eligible to be considered for the university’s Fellowship award competition. The Fellowship competition requires a much earlier deadline as part of its process. So if you wish to be considered for admission and be considered for Fellowship award nomination, you need to meet the university’s earlier application deadline.

If I apply after the December 17 fellowship nomination deadline but am offered admission, will I receive financial aid/funding assistance?

Yes. All PhD applicants who are offered admission are funded. See this previous post for additional information.

Not happy with your GMAT score? Here is some advice.

You are preparing your application to the PhD program.  You completed the online application, wrote, rewrote and finalized your essays, secured your letters of recommendation, updated your resume and requested your transcripts to be sent.  The last item on the checklist is every PhD applicant’s favorite four-letter word … the GMAT.  You took the GMAT, thinking you were going to ace it after all of those hours of intense preparation.  You finished the exam, agreed to view your scores and … oh, MAN, you have got to be kidding me?!  THAT is my score?

Sound familiar?

If this sounds like you and you are planning to apply by the December 17 deadline, you have a couple of choices:

1) Apply as planned and wait to hear from the Admissions Committee regarding next steps in the admissions process – maybe your score isn’t as high as you had hoped, but maybe it isn’t that bad after all.

2) Apply as planned, but indicate to the Admissions Committee that you plan to retake the test on a future date and request that a decision is not made on your application until we receive your new test scores.

A few points to remember:

  • The Admissions Committee will review all of the application materials carefully.  The GMAT is important, but it is just one part of the application.
  • The GMAT was designed to help business schools determine your potential to succeed academically in Fisher PhD coursework.  It is possible that you have enough other evidence in your application of strong academic potential and the GMAT may be relatively less important.
  • Be self aware – look at our current class profile.  Are your qualifications consistent with those of other students in our program?  Manage your expectations.
  • If you are interested in being considered for merit-based financial aid, the two quantitative measures primarily used to evaluate candidates are the undergraduate GPA and the GMAT.  Most of you are unable to impact your undergraduate GPA at this point.  If you feel that your GMAT score is sufficient for admission, but you believe you have the potential to do better, it may be worthwhile to retake for the possibility of funding.
  • If someone gets a better score by retaking the GMAT, the average increase on a GMAT retake is 30 points.  Most people actually perform the same or do worse.  We only recommend that you retake the test if the circumstances around the test day were not ideal or if you have some reason to believe that you did not perform to your maximum potential.
  • If you do plan to retake, give yourself plenty of time.  We recommend about 6-8 weeks of preparation – don’t rush into it before you are ready!

Good luck!!

You can do it!

Troubles with the online application? Helpful hints are here!

If you've forgotten your username or password, don't worry - we can help!

During this time of year, we begin to receive phone calls from applicants who are having trouble creating or accessing their application accounts. Like many other schools, Fisher uses a vendor called ApplyYourself for the graduate program applications. A few notes as you create/access your ApplyYourself account:

  • If you have ever created an account in ApplyYourself, even for another college or university, you can log-in to Fisher’s application using the SAME username and password. You do NOT need to create a new username or password.
  • If you have forgotten your username or password, you can contact tech support by clicking here and following the instructions provided.
    If you are still having trouble, you can send an email to and a Fisher staff member will attempt to help you resolve your issues.

Click here for application deadlines.

Scared of the GMAT? Don’t Be! Join us to learn more.

We understand that for many people, GMAT is a dreaded four-letter word. It doesn’t have to be. You CAN beat the GMAT (or at least conquer your fears) and we’ll show you how. Join us for one of our GMAT information sessions on the Fisher campus. Hosted by our very friendly and knowledgeable GMAC representative, Eric C., these information sessions are designed to introduce you to the not-so-scary test and give you tips for succeeding on the exam. These session are open to anyone who is interested in learning about the exam, regardless of the graduate degree you may be seeking. Select “GMAT Information Session” in the drop-down menu of the Registration page to sign up now! Visit

Difference between Fisher Graduate Programs Office and Ohio State Graduate Admissions Office

All business schools process their applications differently.  At Ohio State, we have a centralized Graduate Admissions Office that ultimately processes all of our applications.  As an applicant, you will receive communication from Fisher (Graduate Programs Office, aka “GPO”) and from The Ohio State University (Graduate Admissions Office, aka “GAO”).


When you apply to the PhD program, you must send ALL of your materials to the Fisher GPO.  Since most of your application can be completed online, this generally refers to transcripts.  We ask you for two official copies of each your transcripts.  Send BOTH official copies of each of your transcripts to the Fisher GPO, as we will make sure a copy is sent to the university’s GAO.

Mailing address

The physical/surface mailing address for the Fisher GPO is

PhD Admissions
Fisher College of Business/Ohio State University
100 Gerlach Hall
2108 Neil Ave
Columbus OH 43210-1144

It is critical you put “PhD Admissions” in the first line of the address on anything you send to us via surface mail. The Fisher GPO processes applications for several different graduate programs – if you omit “PhD Admissions” or accidentally list another program, your mail has a higher chance of being mis-filed and mis-placed. We will find it eventually – but the processing of your file will very likely be unnecessarily delayed.

Checking status of your application

When you submit your application to the PhD program, you will receive an email from the Fisher application system confirming that we have received your submitted application. The email will also include a link through which you can check the status of your application. Use that link – and that link only – to check the status of your application. Please note it can take up to two weeks from the time you submitted your application to the time your web status update page is updated. So, please, if you need to contact us about the status of your application, please be patient and allow a couple of weeks to pass before contacting us.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us!



If it seems we’re a little busy right now, you would be correct

This time of the year is VERY hectic for the Fisher Graduate Programs Office. In addition to being the office through which you will submit your PhD application, this office also organizes all of the “beginning of year” activities for admitted students. First day of classes is September 22 and all of the graduate programs have orientation activities occurring right now and through September 21.

So, yes, we’re very busy … but do not let this dissuade you from contacting us if you have any questions – just note it might take us an extra day or so to get back to you. Our contact information is in the upper right corner on this page and every page of this blog. We want to hear from you – so remember, please contact us if you have any questions!

Who should write your references?

Academic dress for Phd in Singapore with descr...
Image via Wikipedia

Do not confuse a strong letter of reference for a top-flight MBA program with a strong letter of reference for a top-ranked PhD program. Each program is very different from the other with different objectives in mind – in particular, what each type of program views as the “ideal” candidate is often very different from the other.

If you are applying to a top-tier PhD program in business (such as Fisher’s program), your references must be able to comment on your potential for being a scholar who can do independent research in that particular field of study. Most times, academic references carry more weight in the admissions process for PhD applicants. An exception can be made for non-academic references if those non-academic references can comment on the applicant’s potential for scholarly research. Key to remember is that each of your references must know you very well, well enough to know your strengths, weaknesses, etc., at such a level of detail that s/he can state unequivocally that you are well suited for PhD studies.

If you have any questions on the PhD application process, please let us know.

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