Can You Get an MBA with Any Degree? Breaking Down the Barriers

Ready to start your journey?

Can you get an MBA without a business degree?

Can you get an MBA without a business degree

Professionals from diverse educational backgrounds often aspire to climb the corporate ladder or venture into entrepreneurship. Many believe a business degree is required to pursue an MBA, but that is not entirely true.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

In this article, we will delve into the requirements for MBA programs and discuss how individuals with non-business degrees can successfully earn their MBAs. We aim to provide clarity and guidance for those considering this significant career step.

Can I Get an MBA without a Business Degree?

professionals without business degree taking MBA

Yes, while the traditional route to an MBA often involves having a business-related background, you do not have to have a business degree for an MBA at many schools.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), many top MBA programs now accept applicants from a variety of non-business educational backgrounds. There has been significant growth in more flexible MBA programs, allowing students to earn an online MBA without bachelors degrees in business.

Here are some ways non-business majors may fulfill prerequisites for MBA programs:

  • Work experience: Your relevant work experience can compensate for your lack of a business degree. Admissions committees may consider your professional achievements, leadership roles, and industry knowledge when evaluating your application in place of a business degree.
  • Pre-MBA programs: Some universities offer pre-MBA programs specifically designed to help non-business majors gain foundational knowledge in finance, accounting, and economics before starting their MBA studies.
  • Bridge programs: Bridge programs help bridge the gap between non-business majors and MBA coursework by providing intensive training in fundamental business concepts.

With some determination and utilization of these methods, you can successfully pursue an MBA and advanced careers in the business world.

Eligibility Requirements for MBA Programs

students pursuing MBA

If you’re thinking about pursuing an MBA, it’s crucial to understand the general admission requirements for most programs. These can vary from school to school, but there are some common requirements you are likely to find.

Common requirements for admission into an MBA program include:

  • Undergraduate degree
  • Work experience, often 2 to 5+ years
  • GMAT or GRE scores, if required
  • Letters of recommendation from professors or employers
  • Essays or personal statements expressing why you want an MBA

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Can you get an MBA without an undergraduate degree in business, or do you need a business degree? While having one might provide some foundational knowledge beneficial for an MBA program, it is not always necessary.

Many schools appreciate diversity in their cohorts and encourage applications from all academic backgrounds—arts, sciences, engineering, and more! They believe different perspectives enrich discussions and lead to innovative solutions in business scenarios.

So don’t let your non-business background deter you. Understanding these requirements is your first step toward achieving that coveted MBA.

Why Pursue an MBA without a Business Degree?

student Pursuing an MBA without a Business Degree

You might be wondering, “Why should I pursue an MBA without a business degree? And why would an MBA program be interested in me?”

The answer lies in the benefits of earning an MBA and the unique benefits that diverse educational backgrounds can bring to the world of business. Different academic disciplines cultivate different skills and perspectives. For instance, if you have a background in arts, you’re likely to have strong creative thinking and communication skills.

If your degree is in engineering or science, you probably excel at problem-solving and analytical thinking. These varied skills can be invaluable in business scenarios where innovative solutions are needed.

Having students from diverse backgrounds enriches class discussions. It allows various viewpoints to emerge when analyzing case studies or tackling group projects, leading to more comprehensive learning for everyone involved.

Now let’s look at some real-world examples:

  • Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, has degrees in history, literature, and economics but had no formal business education before earning her MBA.
  • Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle), had a bachelor’s degree in economics before he pursued his MBA.

These individuals prove that it’s not just possible but also potentially advantageous to pursue an MBA with a non-business background. They’ve used their unique skill sets coupled with their MBAs to reach significant heights in the corporate world. Your non-business undergraduate degree isn’t a barrier. It could very well be your stepping stone toward success.

Benefits and Challenges for Non-Business Majors in MBA Programs

Non-Business Majors taking MBA Programs

If you have a non-business educational background, there are advantages and challenges to consider when pursuing an MBA.

Advantages of Pursuing an MBA with a Non-Business Bachelor’s

  • Diversity: According to Harvard Business Review, diversity in educational backgrounds enhances creativity and innovation in problem-solving.
  • Unique skills: Engineering graduates often bring strong analytical skills, and arts students can contribute creative thinking, whereas science majors typically excel at research, which are all valuable assets in business education.
  • Different perspectives: Students from varied fields can offer fresh viewpoints on traditional business problems, leading to innovative solutions.

Challenges of Pursuing an MBA without a Business Degree

  • Business terminology: If you’re new to the field, catching up with business jargon can be challenging, but resources like Investopedia’s dictionary can help.
  • Understanding basics: Grasping principles of accounting or finance might require extra effort if your undergrad didn’t cover these areas.
  • Preparation for classes: You may need additional preparation for certain subjects. Pre-MBA courses or online resources, like Coursera or Khan Academy, could be beneficial.
  • Networking challenges: Building connections with classmates who have more field experience might seem daunting.

According to Forbes, earning an MBA is more relevant and students are from more diverse backgrounds than ever. By proactively preparing for the challenges you may face, you can set yourself up for success.

Common Undergraduate Degrees for an MBA

professionals with MBA degrees

Can you get an MBA with any degree you choose? Perhaps so, but some undergraduate degrees may provide a better foundation and are often represented in MBA programs.

These are some common undergraduate backgrounds that are often seen in MBA programs and how they can be beneficial:

Degree Field MBA Contribution
Business A business degree can provide a solid foundation in core business concepts, making the transition into advanced business strategy discussion easier.
Economics A strong grasp of economic principles can allow you to develop the skills needed for quantitative analysis and strategic economic planning.
Humanities Humanities studies can help you develop critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and interpersonal skills, providing a broader, more holistic view of business challenges.
Engineering A degree in engineering can help you develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills, making you more adept at handling the quantitative aspects of business management and operations.
Communications Earning a degree in communications can teach you how to articulate and disseminate information effectively, which is crucial for leadership roles that require managing teams and external stakeholders.

While MBAs are most commonly pursued by business majors, your educational background can offer unique strengths and enhance the collective learning experience of your program.

Preparing for an MBA Program as a Non-Business Student

Non-Business Students taking MBA

Do you need a bachelors to get an MBA? What about work experience? You likely have many questions of this sort if you wish to earn an MBA but come from a non-business background.

We’re here to tell you that it’s not only possible but your background may provide unique perspectives highly valued in business schools. Some prep work may be needed, but it is possible to earn an MBA without a business degree. These are some things you can do to prepare yourself for an MBA program and boost your admission chances:

  • Gain relevant work experience. Before applying, try to accumulate professional experience in your field. This can boost your application and help prepare you for your courses.
  • Enroll in prerequisite courses. Understanding basic business concepts is crucial regardless of your background. The official GMAT website recommends taking courses like economics or accounting if you didn’t during your undergraduate studies.
  • Study for and take the GMAT or GRE, if required. These tests assess skills essential for success in graduate education, such as analytical writing and quantitative reasoning. Test prep courses can help prepare you for these exams and often cover essential business topics. According to US News & World Report, your test scores can significantly influence admissions decisions. High scores demonstrate your readiness for an MBA program and can help compensate for any lack of formal business education.
  • Highlight your unique skills. Use the required admissions application essays and interviews to showcase the distinctive skills your non-business background will bring to the program.
  • Familiarize yourself with key business areas. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), studies in accounting principles, economics, finance, marketing, and statistics can provide important foundational knowledge.
  • Engage in self-study and additional coursework. Online resources like Coursera or Khan Academy offer opportunities to learn basic business concepts at your own pace. You may also enroll in business-related courses at local community colleges or through online platforms like edX or Udemy.
  • Read books and publications on business principles. Publications like The Wall Street Journal or Harvard Business Review can help broaden your understanding of the field.
  • Network with current MBA students and alumni. Their insights can provide invaluable guidance.

Following these steps can help you set yourself up for success even without a traditional business degree under your belt. With dedication and strategic preparation, your non-business background can be an asset rather than a hindrance.

What Is an MBA?

MBA graduates working

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a prestigious postgraduate degree known for developing the skills necessary for careers in business and management.

The Financial Times states that an MBA can enhance career opportunities, increase earning potential, and provide a comprehensive understanding of the global business environment.

The curriculum typically covers accounting, economics, marketing, and operations while offering electives for specialization. Strategic thinking, leadership abilities, decision-making prowess, and an entrepreneurial mindset can be developed in these programs.

In today’s competitive job market, these competencies are highly sought after by employers.

How Hard Is a Graduate Business School?

The difficulty of graduate business school, specifically an MBA program, can be subjective and largely depends on one’s background and dedication. Core courses often include:

  • Quantitative Analysis for Business
  • Managerial Finance
  • Marketing Management
  • Strategic Management.

These subjects require a good grasp of mathematics, critical thinking skills, strategic planning abilities, and an understanding of market dynamics. These programs often require rigorous coursework, case studies, projects, and internships but can offer significant professional rewards.

How Much Does an MBA Make Compared to a Bachelor’s Degree?

MBA graduates salary

According to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey, the job outlook for MBA graduates has increased over the last 5 years. MBA graduates typically have significant salary increases compared to those with just bachelor’s degrees.

The median starting salary for recent MBA graduates in the US is $125,000 (GMAC). While actual salaries can vary depending on factors such as industry, location, and years of experience, earning an MBA can significantly boost your earning potential.

Is an MBA Worth It for Non Business Majors?

Yes, an MBA is worth it for many non business majors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), advanced degrees often lead to higher earnings and lower unemployment rates.

Earning an MBA can equip you with a comprehensive understanding of business management and help you develop strategic thinking, leadership, and decision-making skills. These transferrable skills are highly sought after in today’s competitive job market and can significantly enhance your career prospects and earning potential.

Getting an MBA Online without a Business Bachelor’s Degree

Getting an MBA Online

Pursuing an MBA without a background in business is feasible and can greatly enrich your career prospects.

Your unique insights and experiences can bring fresh and invaluable business perspectives. There’s no better time to enhance your leadership capabilities and open doors to new professional opportunities.

As you move forward, consider exploring accredited online MBA programs that offer flexibility while providing a robust business education.

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.