Am I Too Old To Get An MBA?

Age & Work Experience At Leading Business Schools

School Average Age 

At Matriculation

Work Experience* 

Bottom End of Range

(In Months)

Work Experience*  

Top End of Range

(In Months)

Oxford (Said) 29 36 108
USC (Marshall) 28 36 108
Yale 28 41 107
INSEAD 29 36 99
London Business School 29 48 96
UCLA (Anderson) 28 36 96
MIT (Sloan) 28 36 96
IE Business School 29 27 96
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 28 24 96
Duke (Fuqua) 28 36 92
Dartmouth (Tuck) 28 36 91
Michigan (Ross) 28 38 89
Indiana (Kelley) 28 30 89
Berkeley (Haas) 28 36 87
New York (Stern) 27 33.6 85.2
Northwestern (Kellogg) 28 37 85
Chicago (Booth) 28 36 85
Pennsylvania (Wharton) 28 36 84
Virginia (Darden) 27 37 83
Columbia 28 34 83
Stanford NA 25 71

Source: Business schools reporting to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Top and bottom ranges reflect the mid-80% of the Class of 2012.


  • Warren

    So, deborah, where is “Saif” Now?!

  • emad

    thank you. why there are many students aged 36, 37, and some times 38 and 39 at some of top two year mba programs?!

  • Deborah Knox

    If you are that old with that much work experience and will be sponsored by your employer, you should be looking at Executive MBA programs.

    Deborah Knox
    Insight Admissions

  • emad

    Hello there, is it ok to enroll at 36 if your employer pays all the fees and will have the job after graduation. ?

  • Reaver

    Some years ago, at least in Europe where obtaining a master’s degree is no big achievement, people who enrolled to MBA:
    – had a couple years of expierience, and more 8 years than 2
    – already went up the ladder more than once, or moved their business past the start-up phase

    Now MBA is marketed as a place where you can meet professionals from various fields, establish valuable networks of contacts and acquire business knowledge that you could leveraged in moving into more senior positions or changing industry, fair enough.

    But tell me how 27 year old, who’s been in his career for 4-5 years is going to give me his perspective on business strategy based on his very limited operational expierience? Networking? Are you joking, their network is usually at similar (low) level of professional seniority so we are talking here about guys that are despreate to move as fast as possible from senior analyst to project manager.
    As for cases ask yourself if business case based on facebook that was presented to plethora of other students prior to you is going to be an eye opener?
    Textbook knowledge and frameworks? Today everything is online, so it’s up to you to decide whether dwelling on Mr. Porter’s 5 forces (who btw. went bankrupt) for hours in class, instead of reading about it on wikipedia, is an advantage.

  • Reaver

    I’ve been gradually coming to the very same conclusion, but you’ve articulated it all perfectly.

    There is a huge confusion around how/why b-school is relevant to entrepreneurship. It’s not, deans want students to think that way and students are confused cause the label says ‘business’ school so theoretically it should equip them with some magical skills that will enable them to setup on their own and make millions upon graduation.
    What b-school really can do is to make someone entrepreneurial in a corporate environment, but it won’t make anyone an entrepreneur. So you will be skilled at administering something that was already built, that’s relatively safe. You will be good at organizing your work and referring to the frameworks from textbooks and case studies, but that’s really it. It’s an inconvinient truth and they won’t say it loud.

    I’d say that if you want to start your own gig:
    – be afraid of time
    – believe that you can influence the reality
    – forget about the diploma

  • Deborah

    Is 48 too old to get into a MBA program? Would it be worth it?

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  • hernan cortez

    I know its been a while but as an objective stranger with a business background, I find your “why do I want an mba” reasoning to be dishonest or poorly thoughtout. I suspect you were rejected due to this reasoning.

    Why do you need an mba to do something entrepreneurial. With the experiences you described having you have more than enough to go out and start your own business. Given that you’ve worked at such reputable companies before, why do you need to go to hbs to network? And if you did not learn business development skills and capital market skills when working in your healthcare company and VC you aren’t going to learn it in Harvard. Didn’t you already work in several startups. You had a major position as a director, why did you leave it, you are already earnng more than any hbs school grad.

    You failed to relate how b-school would help your career. And your career is inconsistent, you are all over the place. No one knows what you are going to do if you get in.

    Entrepreneurs don’t need mba’s, not when they been working for 9 years, they should be smart enough to figure out how to raise the capital on their own. HBS can do nothing for you. You are wasting your time trying to get in. This is why I say you are either a poor communicator, or being dishonest. Your stated objectives don’t align with what you are clearly trying to do.

    Your first step is to honestly state what you realy want, then maybe I can help you. Look at the people on shark tank, a bunch of entrepreneurs who became millionaires with networths in the hundreds of millions, NONE went to HBS or the major b-schools. You don’t need B-school to be an entrepreneur. In fact the leading research from the top b-schools (i know, i went to one) demonstrates that b-school grads from the elite institutions make the WORSE entrepreneurs.

    This is because the smarter you are and the more you know, the more likely you are to come up with reasons why what you are thinking of doing will never work. No disciplined investor would ever look at a company like Pogs or Pokemon, basically a picture of an animal on a piece of paper and think this is going to make billions. You’d be laughed out the room.

    You want proof of that look at what the elite b-schools grads did to the LBO industry. A trial of destroyed businesses so long that they don’t even call it LBO any more they call it “private equity” because LBO became a dirty word. another good example would be downsizing or offshoring. etc. B-school grads make poor enterpreneurs. We look how to squeeze out efficiencies of companies someone else largely built who never went to a b-school. Usually destroying the company in the long run.