How to get into Ivey HBA (Honours in Business Administration) 2013

University of Western Ontario is an all round great university. In particular, the Richard Ivey School of Business has some of the best undergraduate and graduate business programs in Canada (and the world for that matter). Ivey’s undergraduate business program is called the Ivey HBA (Honours in Business Administration). This article will thoroughly explain the secrets on how to get into Ivey HBA.

The Ivey HBA is the only of its kind in Canada. The main differentiation is the fact that the program is actually only two years and they take place in years 3 and 4. The first two years are spent doing other courses at Western (or an acceptable university). However, you can apply in your last year of high school as part of the Ivey HBA AEO (Advanced Entry Opportunity). Applying to the AEO is the first step of getting into Ivey HBA. Below are the steps to apply to AEO and if followed, will ultimately increase your chances of getting into Ivey HBA.
PLEASE REFER TO OUR NEWEST EDITION HERE. This details the new requirements on how to get into Ivey HBA

Application Steps – From High School

1) Applying to University of Western Ontario

Before you can apply for AEO, you need to first apply to Western for some program. I might suggest applying to BMOS as it is business related and can assist in preparing you for the very intense 2 years of HBA. You have to apply by going to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. On your application, be sure you check the “Ivey AEO” radio button to signal to the admissions office at Western that they will also receive an AEO application. In order to be eligible, you need to have six grade 12 university level courses and a fourth year English course. We recommend a 90% average if you are serious about getting AEO, although as low as 85% can be acceptable if you plan to re-apply for HBA in your second year (as discussed below).

The application fee is $130 of Ontario high school students and $135 for other students outside of Ontario but in Canada.

2) Applying to Ivey’s HBA AEO

Once you have applied to Western, then go to Ivey’s application website. Create an account and then begin your AEO application. Follow the prompts of the application. Please note that there is an additional application fee of $125, on top of the OUAC application fee.

You cannot be accepted until you have been accepted into Western for whatever faculty you previously applied to in Step 1 thus the sooner you apply to Western (and are consequently accepted), the sooner you can get a conditional offer from Ivey.

Application Steps – From University

1) Filling out intent to register

When you first join university and didn’t apply to AEO, you need to fill out an Intent to Register application. This will let admissions office know you are interested in applying to HBA in your second year.

2) Completing one+ full year of university and are in your second+ year

In the event that you did not apply for AEO, or were not given conditional acceptance, you can apply again in your second year of university. Despite the fact that 2/3’s of HBA students were granted AEO, you still have a chance of getting in from your second (or greater year) of university.

In order to be eligible for the program, you must have taken Business 2257 or equivalent (an introduction to accounting course). You must also have maintained an absolute minimum of 70% in 10 courses (including the accounting course), however we recommend at least 83% as the program is very competitive at this stage (even more so than with AEO).

If you are transferring from another school, a $78 evaluation fee is required.

Most Important Factors in HBA Application

1) Grades

As mentioned, the program is very competitive. Although the HBA program is expanding, the program is no less difficult to get into.  As a result, if you intend to get AEO, we strongly recommend a 90% average in high school. An average as low as 85 is acceptable providing you have extensive extra curricular activities, but realistically, an 87% is likely as low as you can go. Ivey DOES NOT look at grade 11 marks. However, it is important to note if you took a grade 12 course in grade 11, they may refer to those if they are in your top courses.

If you are applying out of university, as mentioned, we recommend at least 83%. Anything less would make it very difficult to get in providing the already small program size and the fact that likely 2/3 of the spots are already filled up.

Although grades do not entirely dictate your acceptance, they are of course the first filter that the admissions committee looks at. If you do not meet their minimum grade or course requirements, regardless of how good your extracurricular activities are, you simply won’t get in. That being said, once you meet the requirements, your grades play less of a role than one might suspect.

2) Activities Section of HBA Application

Despite these being called “activities’, these are essentially essay questions, far more so than the actual essay question. Do not make these informal, abbreviated, or with bullet points.

The section is as follows:

“Consider all the activities (extracurricular, community involvement, paid/volunteer work experience, entrepreneurial ventures) that you have been involved in during the past 4 years. Select 3 activities that you feel highlight your leadership experience best. Please limit each description to one activity.”

The key to each of these activities is to ensure you explain how the activity demonstrates the following characteristics: teamwork, initiative, achievement,commitment, breadth AND leadership. If you can’t relate an activity to all characteristics, ensure they are all referenced throughout the three essays. It is also important to ensure your answers are concise and well constructed. For instance, provide a very brief summary, and then provide the details in the body. Then summarize at the end and explicitly mention whatever of the previously mentioned characteristics apply to that activity.

It also important to note that spelling and grammar is taken into account thus it’s imperative you have somebody review your essays.

These are your best opportunities to differentiate yourself from other applicants. These will ultimately be weighted highest providing your grades are within our recommended levels.

 3) Essay Question

The essay question is your last real opportunity to market yourself and differentiate yourself and is a crucial step in getting into Ivey HBA. Although listing awards in the awards section is ideal, they are far more concerned with how you communicate your achievements and successes rather than simply listing them.

The essay question is as follows:

“The ideal Ivey HBA student has a wide range of interests, perspectives, and life experiences. Describe the uniqueness you have brought as a student to your high school based on your own interests, perspectives, and life experiences. Please be concise and respond using 250 words or less in your answer.”

This is a very difficult essay to write given the length. It is vital that you effectively communicate the most important information. The key to this is to describe these interests, perspectives, and life experiences and how they are unique as described, but to related them to how they will continue in your HBA. Furthermore, explain how HBA will assist you with future endeavours.


We are confident that if you follow this article, getting into Ivey HBA will be tremendously easier, let alone more achievable. Although every aspect of the application is important, the sections described in this article are the most vital.

For more information on other business schools in Canada and our rankings, please refer to this article.

Alex Dorward

Alex Dorward

Alex is the co-founder of UniversityHub (now CampusRankings) and current Technical Director for CampusRankings. Alex grew up in Ottawa before attending St FX in Antigonish, NS. After graduating, he joined Accenture and is currently a Manager in Accenture Digital.

Kerry says:

I was just wondering what essay questions they would assigned to transfer students? I don’t think they would ask you to talk about your high school experience at that stage.

Also, they implemented a video question process during the application, can anyone expand on that part as well?

Thank you so much?