What is required for an MBA degree?

Understanding what is required for an MBA degree is an important step in the process of deciding whether or not to apply for business school. An MBA isn’t just another masters or postgraduate course - it has its own unique feel, structure and expectations, and you want to make sure that you are able to maximise the benefit of it. To discover what is required for an MBA degree, read on


Before you apply


Each business school will have its own requirements for MBA applications, but in general business schools will expect applicants to have:

  • An undergraduate degree (usually)

Most schools will expect applicants to have an undergraduate degree - but expect doesn’t mean must. Extensive, impressive work experience can compensate for a lack of undergraduate degree, particularly with European schools who tend to take a more flexible approach.

  • A (good) GMAT/GRE score (sometimes)

The hours spent slaving over GMAT prep or GRE study guides is a thing of the past for some applicants. COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented number of schools offering GMAT waivers due to the practical challenges of administering the test during a global pandemic, with at least nine of the top fifty schools in the US now making the test optional. Even before COVID-19, a number of schools in the UK in particular were offering applicants the chance to take their own, proprietary test formats instead.


That being said, even if you are applying to a school which is GMAT-optional, a good score may help your MBA application. Speak with admissions staff and students to determine the best approach for you.

  • 3 years + work experience

There are exceptions, but most business schools expect to see a minimum of three years full time work experience from MBA candidates. Don’t think that this has to come from a traditional corporate environment though - from hospitality to healthcare to entertainment, everyone has something to offer


Once you get there


The question ‘what is required for an MBA degree’ changes once you get to business school (although hopefully you’ve also been thinking about this before!). Now you’re thinking about what you need to do to graduate with your certificate and start your new career. MBA programs vary hugely in what they expect of their students, but general core study areas include:


Marketing

Operations

Strategy

Finance/Accounting

Organisational behaviour/design

Economics

Leadership


More and more schools are making data analytics a part of their core curriculum - for example, London Business School and ESMT Berlin both require a Data Analytics for Managers course. Many schools are encouraging their students to learn languages such as R or Python as well, reflecting the number of students who are looking to join the world of ‘big tech’ after graduation.


Ultimately though, what is required for an MBA degree comes down to more than core curriculum or checking boxes. Whether you opt for a one year MBA program or a two year course, the experience is an intense, busy, all consuming one. Students hoping to secure an MBA will need to supplement their coursework with soft skills, tenacity and resilience to get them through a challenging academic program - and the job search beyond.



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