Succeeding on your Ivey HBA Application

The Western University Ivey Bachelor of Arts in Honors Business Administration (HBA) Program is one of the most competitive and lowest acceptance rate business programs in Canada. 

It is also known for its unique approach to learning in which enrolled in the program must first complete 2-years of any undergraduate program, in any faculty from a registered university, before completing 2-years of study in the HBA program.

Let’s walk through all the requirements, tips, and tricks for a successful Ivey HBA application including examples from successful applicants.

Please note this post is for students who are wishing to apply for the Advanced Entry Option (AEO) straight out of high school. Students who gain this status must meet the conditions of their offer, including maintaining an average of at least 80% (78% for engineering programs) and involvement in extracurricular activities, in their first 2 years of undergraduate study to be accepted into the program.

What are the Ivey HBA Requirements?

To be a qualified applicant for the Ivey HBA program you must meet these three requirements:

  1. Prerequisite courses
  2. Grade requirement
  3. Supplementary application

Please make sure that you meet all these requirements. Applicants who do not meet just one of these requirements will be rejected without consideration because not all three prerequisites are met. Be sure you are absolutely clear about what is needed.

What are the Ivey HBA prerequisite courses?

All applicants of the Ivey HBA program must have completed six grade 12 courses by the end of grade 12. These courses must include:

  • English (ENG 4U_)
  • One of the grade 12 math courses:
    • Advanced Functions (MHF 4U_)
    • Calculus & Vectors (MCV 4U_)
    • Mathematics of Data Management (MDM 4U_)
  • Any 4 additional U/M grade 12 courses of your choice

What grade do I need to apply to the Western Ivey HBA Program?

According to the Ivey HBA Website, a competitive applicant will have a 90%+ average. If you’re looking for tricks to improve your high school grades check out our post on the top study habits to get maximum grades in minimum time!

The Ivey program is unique in the way it calculates its admission average. The highest of the two calculations is most likely to be considered on your application.

Firstly, the average can be calculated using prerequisites for the undergraduate program you intend to study in the 2-years prior to entering the HBA program. English will be included in this calculation if it is not already a requirement of the program.

Secondly, your average can be calculated using your top 6 highest averages including English.

It is important to note that Western may only use your first-semester final grades when making acceptance decisions if you are a qualified applicant. At most, final decisions will be made based on mid-year marks. This means your first semester marks are much more important than your second semester marks.

Do not be discouraged if you do not have a 90%+ grade average. The Ivey HBA admissions team will consider both grade and supplementary applications in a 50/50 split when sending acceptances. Ivey HBA applicants with a lower average can still be accepted to the program with a great supplementary application.

What is the Western Ivey HBA Supplementary Application?

In addition to meeting all grade and course requirements, all Western HBA applicants are required to complete a supplementary application when applying. 

A great supplementary application is extremely important in getting into the Ivey HBA Program. Your application is weighted 50/50 between admission grades and your supplementary application.

We’ve talked to existing students and admissions officers to determine what a successful applicant to the Western Ivey HBA program looks like. Here we’ve outlined some of their responses as well as various examples of successful applications, broken down by each section in the HBA supplemental application.

If you want to skip to a specific section click any of the links below:

Ivey Alumni Reference (Optional)

Ivey Alumni References is a section that allows you to make comments to Western on what connections you have to the program. Family and friends can be inputted into this section as well as their year of graduation. When we asked the Ivey admissions team what effect this had on admissions they replied that it was only for reporting purposes and did not impact one’s likelihood of getting accepted. In fact, we have not met any Ivey HBA alumni who actually received a follow-up from Western when their name was used on admissions applications. If you do not know of any alumni of the program don’t sweat it!

Special Circumstances Essay (Optional)

Like many applications, Western includes a section where applicants can report extreme circumstances that may have significantly impacted their average and supplementary application. The admissions committee at Western takes into account these circumstances on a case-by-case basis, and it can influence their offers of admission. However, this section should only be used for extraordinary circumstances such as medical illness, family matters, and other personal issues that have had a large impact on your application. 

Education (Mandatory)

Your education response is used to make sure that all applicant grades are accounted for in determining your admissions average. We asked the admissions team if the number of institutions studied at or the prestige of the institution you attended matters in your application. They replied that as long as all courses were taken at an accredited institution no distinction is made in your application. The admissions team understands that many students may choose to take night school or private school courses to supplement their education due to COVID and a lack of regular classes. This is completely acceptable with no effect on admission.

Awards (Optional)

The awards section is your chance to list any non-academic achievements that you have received in the past 4 years. Although this section is not as important as your experiences and character sections they still play a role in the admissions process. No achievement should be discounted and including awards in music, sports, or any extracurricular only serves to positively impact your application. We recommend that you also list important figures that define your achievement including the number of participants, recipients, or monetary value attached to the award. The Ivey program looks for applicants who are not only high academic achievers but also candidates who have an exceptional work/life balance. This is your chance to show them that you excel in non-academic activities.

Top 2 Extracurricular Activities (Mandatory)

This section is arguably one of the most important in your Ivey HBA Application. The admissions team is looking for activities that you have participated in that have demonstrated leadership, teamwork, initiative, achievement, commitment and breadth. Your answer to this question can consist of the most important activities, volunteer experience, work experience, community involvement, etc you have participated in. The admissions team assesses applicants based on their action, initiative, contribution, as well as time commitment. Any activity that involves the accumulation of skill (eg. playing an instrument, dance), significant time commitment (eg. sports, student government) or demonstrates your contribution to your community (eg. volunteer work) would be great.

Keep in mind that when assessing your extracurricular involvement, the admissions office is looking for teamwork experience and, in particular, your contribution to the team or group. Assessments are made based on your involvement in them and the impact you had, not the impact the team had. Show how you introduced something or made something better. Perhaps you stretched outside of your comfort zone to try something new. Maybe you set a new goal and those goals were met or exceeded and resulted in some sort of award or distinction. The more involved and greater of an impact you had in your extracurricular will result in a greater significance being placed on your application.

The admissions committee has provided an example of a response that they believe meets this criterion and merits acceptance into the program. We have also included other responses from accepted candidates. They can all be found below:

Additional Activities (Optional)

You can also choose to include additional activities that you feel meet the same criteria as your top 2 extracurricular activities here. Although your most influential extracurricular activities should have been included in your top 2 list, where you have more space to talk about the breadth of your commitment, other activities can be included here. If you have put a lot of time and effort into your top 2 extracurricular activities and don’t have many additional activities to list that is completely reasonable. You do not need to demonstrate a wide variety of activities to be a successful applicant and showing your depth of involvement is seen as more important.

Character Essay Question (Mandatory)

Not only is leadership important in your application but also signs of character.  At the Ivey HBA program, character is defined as an amalgam of virtues, values and certain traits. Character speaks to who a person is rather than what they are able to do. The Ivey admissions team is looking to see who you are as a person and if you align with the core values of their program. 

We have provided an example of a successful character application for you below:

Work Experience and International Experience (Optional)

Work experience and international experience are optional addition to your application that can play a minor role in influencing admissions decisions. If you have any work experience feel free to list them if they help to support your leadership, teamwork, initiative, achievement, and character. This can include paid positions of leadership, internships at companies, or entrepreneurship ventures. Once again show how you as an individual positively influenced your work and what impact you had on this community. Be clear in the roles you played, the goals you set, and the achievements you made. However, like the additional activities section, Ivey admissions understand that different students have varying degrees of depth and breadth in their activities. Do not be discouraged if you do not have any activities to include in your application.

Languages Spoken (Mandatory)

At the end of your application, you will be asked to list any and all languages that you speak. The admissions team states that this is purely for reporting purposes and does not affect your application. Only speaking English does not negatively impact your likelihood of acceptance into the program.

When Will I Receive an offer of AEO status from the Ivey HBA Program?

The Western Ivey Program offers AEO conditional status in a rolling admissions style. The Ivey program will make offers at different points in time based on overall applicant strength. Students who are extremely strong applicants may be given an offer in late March based solely on their first-term grades. However, the majority of offers will be made in the months of April and May and are based on mid-year marks.

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