Can I Get an MBA Without Work Experience?

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How much work experience do you really need to get an MBA? If you’re considering an MBA but you lack work experience, fear not. MBA programs are evolving, and some are designed to meet specific goals right out of undergrad.

Aimee Akimoff, MBA, Director of Recruitment at Willamette University MBA, describes the pros and cons of getting an MBA with little or no work experience.

Video: What are the pros and cons of getting an MBA with more or less work experience?

Can I get an MBA without work experience?

If you have little to no work experience, you can now choose from programs that are specifically designed to prepare you for your first professional position, and beyond. These programs are generally called “early career” MBA programs, and they provide students with the full range of professional experience, knowledge, networking, and career management tools needed for successful careers. As an early career student, your opportunities will be determined by not only your MBA credential, but by the professional experience, knowledge, and skills you develop while you earn your MBA.

How should I choose an “early career” MBA program?

Choosing the right MBA program is very important for early career students because you will use your MBA to build a complete set of qualifications for your next career move. This includes a resume of real professional experience, breadth, and depth of knowledge in your target field, and the personal and interpersonal tools of career management.

When making your decision, choose an MBA program with multiple opportunities for experiential learning and career development integrated into your requirements. Hands-on learning, internships, client consulting projects, mentor programs, and networking opportunities are important keys to success for early career students. While many MBA programs admit students without work experience, only a few are truly designed for early career students.

Finally, choose a program with a curriculum that provides a general understanding of management and in-depth expertise in one or more areas of interest. This combination will help you develop the decision-making skills you will need throughout your career, and is a major benefit that separates an MBA from subject-focused master’s degrees (like a Master of Accounting or Marketing).

What are the benefits of an early career MBA program?

Investing in an early career MBA has professional, economic, and personal benefits. An early career MBA has the career benefits of a traditional MBA program, with the added advantage of being able to work at a professional level sooner in your career. You’ll also be able to reach that level without interrupting your career later to return to school.

Additionally, the financial ROI for a graduate degree is generally better when completed early in your career. Starting salaries are usually higher than with an undergraduate degree, so early career graduates have more years of their working life to earn higher salaries.

Are you ready to take the next step toward earning your graduate business degree? Use our program finder to find and evaluate schools that match your work experience and professional goals.


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