Do I need Work Experience for an MBA program?

One of the major differences between the prerequisites to enter a Master’s degree and an MBA program is that you will need a certain level of work experience. To become a Master of Business Administration, you will study a wide variety of business subjects that will prepare you to be a well-rounded professional with knowledge in many areas. Before you can study this curriculum, you will need to meet the admissions guidelines by proving that you have the appropriate educational and professional experience in some area of business. If you would like to know just how much experience you will need, read on and find out how the requirements can range from program to program.

What is the Average Professional Experience Requirement?

All institutions that offer advanced business degrees have set different admissions criteria, and the level of competition applying to attend the program will dictate the importance of your professional experience. While there are some schools that have programs where you need absolutely no work history, many schools granting MBA’s will have at least a minimal work experience requirement.

Years ago, when you were asked to write an admissions essay regarding your work experience, the counselor would review the essay to assess your skill and experience without regard to the amount of time you have been employed. Now, the experience and the length of time are two important factors. Schools that once accepted students with experience between 2 and 3 years will now only grant acceptance to professionals with 5 years of full-time employment. While this may not be a standard, the more professional work experience the better.

How Will Professional Experience Help Your Application?

If you are applying to one of the top business schools, you can expect the admissions councils to consider more than just your undergraduate grades. In addition to your academic performance, the council will review your GMAT test scores, an essay, and how much experience that you have in the industry.

You can have an excellent grade point average and a high GMAT score, but if you have only 2 years of experience and another applicant with similar scores has 5 years, you are going to be passed up. Work experience really matters when you want to get into a top business school. If that is not important to you and you are going to a mid-level school, the professional experience may not carry as much weight.

Are There Schools With No Experience Requirement?

If you want to earn your Master of Business Administration fresh out of a Bachelor’s degree program, you might be looking for a school that will accept you without any employment history. Luckily, not all programs are the same and many business schools are changing. There are now early career programs that will help recent grads and younger professionals develop their skills and knowledge. If you have limited work experience, you should verify that a school has an early career option before applying.

When you are studying for an advanced business administration degree, you need to have a set of skills to keep up with the curriculum. While professional experience shows that you have the credentials and the background to succeed in an academic setting, there are programs that acknowledge that work experience does not dictate if you will be successful at earning your MBA.