What Are the Prerequisites for an MBA Program?

What Are the Prerequisites for an MBA Program?

Looking to take your career to the next level? Perhaps you dream of launching your own business or are striving for more of a leadership or managerial position with your current employer. Regardless, it might be time to explore a master’s in business administration (MBA) as a means of advancing your career and building crucial skills.

Are there prerequisites for an MBA? In short, yes, and by understanding the common requirements for this type of program, you can plan and prepare with confidence.

Understanding the Basics of MBA Prerequisites

One of the most essential MBA degree prerequisites that applies to all graduate-level business programs is having a bachelor’s degree already under your belt.

The Importance of a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree (which usually entails a four-year program) is required for admission into any MBA program. That previous experience in a rigorous degree program is critical to being prepared for the coursework of a master’s degree program. Likewise, an undergraduate degree can provide you with valuable foundational knowledge that will transfer from your general education credits.

Evaluating Your Undergraduate Major’s Impact

Sometimes, a bachelor’s degree in a field related to business (like accounting or finance) may be preferred to gain admission to an MBA program; however, this is not always the case. It is not uncommon for students who majored in a subject completely unrelated to business to pursue MBA degrees, either as part of a career shift or as a means of gaining valuable business experience in their respective fields.

Standardized Test Scores: GMAT and GRE

Certain MBA programs will also require applicants to submit standardized test scores. The two most common graduate school exams are the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)—but how can you know which is right for you?

GMAT vs. GRE: Which Should You Take?

Always check with your school to determine if they require one test over the other, as this will help you make the right decision. If your school or program accepts either test, then you’ll want to consider some other factors.

Generally speaking, the GMAT is more geared toward business schools, but the GRE is becoming increasingly common as an admission requirement. Both are offered in similar formats and cost about the same to take, and scores for both exams are valid for five years.

Minimum Score Requirements and How to Prepare

The GMAT and GRE are scored differently, with scores for the GRE ranging from 130 to 170 in one-point increments. The GMAT, on the other hand, offers a composite score that ranges from 205 to 805 in larger 10-point increments. If the business school you’re applying to has a minimum score requirement, it will be posted on the admissions page.

The best way to prepare for the GRE or GMAT is to choose a reputable study guide and take plenty of practice exams. In addition, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to study for the exam.

What Are the Prerequisites for an MBA Program?

Work Experience Requirements for MBA Applicants

Some business schools may also require MBA applicants to have a certain amount of relevant professional experience before they can be admitted into an MBA program.

The Role of Professional Experience in Your Application

Professional experience in the business world is key when applying to an MBA program because it will give you some of the foundational knowledge needed to succeed in an advanced program of study. Without any professional experience in business, you may struggle with some of the basic concepts throughout the program.

How Much Experience Do You Need?

The amount of work experience you need will vary from one program to the next. However, there’s a good chance an MBA program could require anywhere from three to five years of related work experience. In other instances, applicants with less experience may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Academic Performance and GPA Considerations

Many business schools also have academic performance and GPA requirements for MBA applicants, so how well you did in your undergraduate degree program could affect whether or not you get accepted into an MBA program.

Understanding GPA Requirements

It is not uncommon for a business school to require a minimum of a 3.0 GPA for applicants who completed an undergraduate degree in a related or unrelated field. For non-business bachelor’s degree holders, a 3.0 average will be especially essential in courses related to statistics, calculus, and English composition.

Strategies for Overcoming a Low GPA

Usually, a lower GPA alone won’t be enough to disqualify an applicant from an MBA program—but this will differ from school to school. If you had less than a 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate program (or whatever the minimum GPA for your MBA program is), the best course of action is to reach out to an admissions counselor before you submit your application.

Essential Skills and Competencies for MBA Applicants

Do you need prerequisites for an MBA? Yes, but you may also need to demonstrate that you possess some essential skills and competencies required to get through an MBA program.

Leadership and Management Skills

MBA graduates often go on to work in leadership and other management roles, so being able to bring some of these basic skills to the table is key at the beginning of your MBA program.

Communication and Analytical Skills

Additionally, successful leaders and managers need to have solid communication skills. Not only should you be able to communicate effectively in person, but those skills should translate to your writing as well. Likewise, strong analytical skills are also crucial in an MBA program and beyond.

Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills

Much of the work of an MBA program (and any future career in the business world) will require constant analytical and critical thinking. As new problems and obstacles arise, you must demonstrate that you can think quickly on your feet and confidently come up with new ideas that will forge the path forward.

Teamwork and Collaboration Experience

The future generation of business leaders will need to be able to collaborate with people, too, motivating them to work as a team toward a common goal. Ideally, you’ll be able to bring these skills to the table as you enter your MBA program.

The Significance of Letters of Recommendation

Many business schools will also require you to submit at least one, if not several, letters of recommendation as part of your application.

Choosing the Right Recommenders

Keep in mind that not everybody makes a great “recommender” when it comes time to have these letters written. In general, you should not choose family members or friends to write your letters of recommendation. Instead, you’re better off choosing a professional contact (such as a current or previous boss) or a past academic contact (such as a professor).

What Your Recommenders Should Highlight

While you can’t exactly tell a recommender what they should write in your letter, you can (and should) provide them with some basic guidelines and insights into what your MBA program is looking for. You might consider providing them with a copy of the admission requirements to your desired MBA program, as well as a copy of your own resume or other accomplishments to which the writer can refer while drafting your letter.

Ideally, your letter of recommendation should highlight the skills, experiences, characteristics, and formal designations that make you a qualified candidate for the MBA program.

Crafting a Compelling Personal Statement

It is also common for a graduate degree program to require something known as a personal statement of all applicants. Typically, a personal statement is a one-page document where you discuss your background, why you’re interested in completing the program, and your professional and career goals for the future.

Tips for Telling Your Unique Story

Writing a personal statement can be challenging, especially for those who don’t always enjoy talking about themselves. This is where it can be helpful to create an outline narrowing down the precise points you wish to make (along with examples). If you have a unique story or anecdote that applies, this can be a great way to make your personal statement stand out as well.

Do’s and Don’ts of Personal Statements

Keep the following in mind as you craft your personal statement:

  • DO focus on your strengths.
  • DO ask for feedback from people you trust.
  • DO connect your ideas with your own experiences.
  • DON’T submit more than one page unless explicitly asked to do so.
  • DON’T downplay your achievements; this is your one chance to make yourself and your application stand out from the rest.
  • DON’T wait until the last minute to write one; give yourself plenty of time to draft, rewrite, and revise as needed.

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

If you’re an international student applying for admission to an MBA program in the United States, there may be additional requirements you need to complete.

TOEFL/IELTS Scores for Non-Native English Speakers

Most business schools will require international applicants to complete a standardized test that assesses their proficiency in English. Common examples of these include the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Find out exactly which test your program requires and the minimum score you must obtain to be considered for admission.

Understanding Visa Requirements

In addition to English proficiency tests, international students may also need to provide proof of a visa in order to complete an MBA program in the U.S. Specifically, an F-1 visa is the most common type of visa required for international students. The process of obtaining one can take some time, so it’s important to be proactive about applying for the appropriate visa.

Advance Your Education in Business at Marymount University

As you can see, the specific prerequisites and admission requirements for an MBA will vary depending on the exact school and program you’re considering. Still, most MBA programs will require you to demonstrate some basic competencies, as well as formal work experience requirements and standardized test scores.

Seeking an MBA program that’s built to help students succeed? Marymount University is proud to offer a Master of Business Administration that empowers you to meet real-world challenges while exploring specialized skills that can help advance your career. Get in touch with an admissions advisor today to learn more about our MBA program, or begin your application for enrollment online.