Do I need a Business Major to Get an MBA?

Learn whether a business degree is necessary to get into various MBA programs.

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Many college graduates assume that a business degree is required to gain entry into MBA programs – after all, the name stands for Master of Business Administration. However, business schools accept students from nearly all academic backgrounds.

Don’t worry about your undergraduate degree – in many instances, it can be advantageous to have an education in another area. Factors such as grade point average, test scores, and work experience can all play a more important role in admissions decisions.

If you didn’t major in business, find an industry that corresponds with your undergraduate degree before you start grad school.

MBA program prerequisites

  • Work experience: The first thing admissions offices will look for is at least two years in the post-undergrad workforce. Only 10-15 percent of college graduates go directly to business school.
  • Undergraduate GPA: More important than a specific degree is your grade point average. The average undergraduate GPA at the MIT Sloan School of Management is 3.46. Schools are looking for intelligent and motivated individuals.
  • GMAT score: All prospective students must complete the Graduate Management Admission Test as part of the application process. The exam tests students’ knowledge in mathematics and the English language, and majors such as literature may actually provide you with better preparation for certain portions of the test.

Common undergraduate majors for MBA students

Did you know that at most universities, the majority of MBA students did not major in business during undergrad? In 2011, 40% of the accepted applicants at Harvard Business School had degrees in humanities & social sciences, 33% had degrees in engineering, and only 26% graduated with business degrees (the other 2% majored in other areas). Remember, schools want diversity in their student body. Highlight the knowledge and experience that makes you unique – instead of looking at your degree as a hindrance, look at it as an opportunity for you to stand out.

MBA programs: tips and tactics

  • If you didn’t major in business, find an industry that corresponds with your undergraduate degree before you start grad school. For instance, if you studied biology, state on your application that you would like to work on the business side of a field such as stem cell research.
  • Take several classes in economics, statistics, accounting, and calculus. You can essentially neutralize any advantage a business major has in regards to program-specific coursework. Since these are basic core requirements, consider enrolling at a local community college to save money.
  • After you graduate and before applying to graduate school, earn any applicable certification related to your field of work. Certifications will help you get accepted to the MBA program you want.


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