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Do I Need an Undergraduate Business Degree for an MBA?

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Robin Camputaro

Not having an undergraduate degree in Business will not affect your MBA.

Robin Camputaro is Associate Director, MBA Program Virginia Tech MBA

My undergraduate degree is not in business. Can I be successful in business school and how will an MBA help me? 

The MBA degree is considered a professional degree, which intends to prepare an individual for the practical application of skills, rather than teaching theory and conducting research. Because of this, no specific background is required for the degree, which has the ability to “stand alone” as an indication of the level of education one has received. 

If you don’t have a business undergraduate degree or background, this will not hinder you in your MBA admissions or success. In fact, many business schools look favorably upon non-business-degree students because it increases the diversity within a class. 

Many business schools require pre-requisites, so don’t be surprised if you have to complete a general accounting, statistics, or finance course prior to starting the MBA program. For anyone without the business background, this should help you tremendously to avoid having to teach yourself the basic concepts while you scramble to catch up with your peers.

Some non-business students are concerned that business majors will surpass them in the classroom without a solid business background. Usually this concern is unfounded because of the deeper, more intense levels at which MBA classes are taught in comparison to undergraduate business courses. Also, MBA faculty tend to have higher standards for critical thinking and analysis than they do of their undergraduate students in the same subject field. 

How will the MBA help me? 

The world is no longer easily divided into specific industries, functions, and skillsets. Employees today are expected to cross-train in multiples areas. This is where the MBA degree comes in – it allows a student merge their background with the business foundation of finance, marketing, leadership, ethics, and other business core functions. 

This need for cross-training is one reason why many schools – including Virginia Tech – are encouraging dual or simultaneous degrees with their MBA program. These degrees allow students to blend a medical, law, or engineering degree with their MBA at the same time. This combination of a very specific technical degree and the general MBA provides the student with the ability to conversantly speak the language of business, further enhancing their marketability in the workforce. 

In Virginia Tech’s MBA program, we offer a simultaneous degree program allowing students to earn their MBA and a secondary graduate degree in a technical field. Our students are earning their MBA as well as their master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering, industrial & systems engineering, building construction, public health, chemistry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and doctor of osteopathic medicine. Learn more here.