P&Q Editor John A. Byrne Answers Reader Questions About The MBA



Is it worth doing an MBA without any work experience?

I don’t think so. For one thing, you would find it nearly impossible to get into a highly selective or highly ranked program. That because schools want to assemble classes with individuals who have something to contribute to the overall learning. Without having spent any time in the world of work, you would have little to add to many of the discussions.

Secondly, you would fail to get the full benefit of the MBA experience. Without having experience, you wouldn’t see how what you learn has applicability to your effectiveness at work. Lacking that foundation would make a big difference in what you take away from the program and how much of it stays with you.

Finally, the companies that employ MBAs want people who have had work experience prior to getting the degree and the maturity in a candidate that comes from it. So graduating with no work experience—most likely from a third-tier school—will not help your employment outcomes.

By the way, just so you have more inside info on what a particular school offers in its MBA program, you might want to download one of these free in-depth Insider Guides. We have them for the top 16 U.S. business schools. I think that after reading one of these on a school you would most love to attend, you will more completely understand how bringing two to four years of work experience into a program would make total sense.


What is a suitable option for a BBA graduate, to opt for an MBA right away or to gain some professional experience before a master’s?

Truth is, you generally won’t be able to get into a quality MBA program without two to five years of full-time work experience. That is because most of the learning in any MBA program comes from the students who bring their varied work experience into the classroom. There’s a more important reason why you would want to gain professional experience, however. It’s so that you will get the most out of the MBA program. Once you have been in the world of work, you will experience things that an MBA program will offer insight and perspective on. And you may at that time want to use the MBA to try something else. You won’t know that unless you put in some professional experience before going for your MBA.


How much impact does work experience have on MBA admissions?

The impact of any one part of an MBA application on an candidate’s chances often is a function of all the other parts. That said, we asked a wide swath of MBA admission consultants to judge how much weight business schools placed on all the different pieces of an MBA applicant’s profile.

Their estimate was about 15% or so. They estimated that the applicant’s employer accounted for just over 7% of weight; the years of work experience, just under 5%, and the industry that employed the candidate at 3%.

See our study here:

How Important Is Each Part Of Your MBA Application?


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