Do I really need work experience prior to enrolling in an MBA program?

Apr 27, 2011
Tags: Admissions Requirements, Work Experience, Work-Life Balance

Written by Stephen L. Gauthier, Associate Dean, Crummer School of Business, Rollins College

In the past, most MBA schools would report that they required three to five years of full-time work experience prior to enrolling in an MBA program.  Programs would state this would make your MBA educational experience a much more enriching endeavor. Current admissions practices have changed dramatically and even Harvard Business School no longer requires work experience in order to apply.

Yet, it is still good advice for the younger students to take a very close look at the types of MBA programs to which they are applying. If you do not have full-time work experience and are enrolled in a MBA program where the average work experience is 4 years or greater, consider what types of disadvantages you might face in the classroom or career center. When competing for interviews and jobs on campus are you at a disadvantage because so many other students have full-time work experience? These are concerns that the younger MBA student should consider.  It might be better for the younger student to attend an MBA program that is specially designed for a younger audience, with special classes and programs that truly enhance the learning experience and career opportunities. One such program is the Early Advantage MBA program at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College where the average amount of work experience for the class is less than a year. The school offers specially structured career development resources to increase the marketability of the graduate in the workplace.  The school has been consistently ranked by Forbes magazine for the highest return on investment in the state of Florida.

Younger MBA candidates will also be pleased with research that was completed by faculty at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College that shows there is a financial disadvantage in delaying an MBA degree in order to gain work experience. The perception among students has been that this work experience translates into a higher salary. While this might be true immediately following graduation, the research of the Rollins faculty and Forbes magazine shows that those with no work experience actually see a higher gain in salary five years after graduation, compared to those students who worked for one to five years prior to obtaining their MBA.

As with any major purchase, prospective MBA candidates should do through research into any program they plan on attending. This researchshould include visiting campuses and talking to current students, alumni, and faculty.