Do I need undergraduate business experience to get into an MBA program?

It is not necessary to earn your undergraduate degree in business or a business-related field to gain admission to an MBA program. Sometimes a bachelors in a subject other than business can be beneficial to your success in an MBA program or future career. For instance, if you plan on working at an architectural firm, you might consider an undergraduate track in architecture or engineering.

The type of bachelors degree you earn does not necessarily make you more or less likely to be admitted into an MBA program. Different schools look for different things, so it is important to carefully review each school’s requirements before applying. Some schools may require a bachelors degree in business to be sure that you aware of the widest range of business topics.

Coursework requirements and prerequisites

Nearly every school you apply to will require you to provide your transcripts to prove that you have completed an undergraduate program. Many schools, even those offering the top MBA programs, do not require your previous coursework to be related to business, but there will be other prerequisites to meet. Babson College, for example, requires that potential MBA students have earned their undergraduate degrees from accredited universities. Not fulfilling this requirement would be enough for Babson to disregard your application. There are some schools that will admit students who have not earned an undergraduate degree but have professional experience, though this is uncommon among the best MBA schools.

Holding a strong GPA and GRE or GMAT scores

Over the course of your studies you will notice that there are many measures of your success as a student. The most basic of these measures is your GPA. Some schools establish minimum GPA requirements for applicants. It is important to maintain a high GPA so you are not restricted to schools that might have lower standards.

Nearly all schools will require you to submit GRE and GMAT scores. These tests gauge your aptitude and preparedness for graduate school. Often schools will have minimum score requirements, but there are schools like the University of Chicago Booth School of Business that do not.

In almost all cases, there is no substitute for submitting your GRE or GMAT scores to be considered for admission.

Work experience

Work experience can be an important and often overlooked component in your application to an MBA program. The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago looks specifically at work history and is interested in an applicant’s employment record and level of success. The Booth School is also interested in professional certifications and an applicant’s level of commitment to professional development.

Letters of recommendation and writing samples

The best MBA programs tend to require 2 letters of recommendation. Some of the best people to approach to write a letter of recommendation would be professors, advisors, managers or clients of yours. It is common for some schools to impose word limits and content restrictions on these letters. The Columbia Business School takes it a step further and provides specific questions for anyone writing a reference letter to answer.

Some schools, like Columbia, have essay requirements as well. Often applicants will be provided with questions relating to their future plans or business philosophy. Other schools, like the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, do not require any sort of essay or writing sample at all.


Interviews tend to be included in many schools’ application processes. Often the interview process is reserved for those applicants who have satisfied the preliminary requirements and are being seriously considered for admission. New York University’s Stern School of Business is one of many schools requiring candidates to meet for an interview, but only after an invitation has been extended.