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Sell your work experience in MBA Applications

Strategies for Applying to Business School with Limited Work Experience

Most MBA programs require applicants to have at least two years of work experience. Top B-schools can require at least five to six years.

While having work experience will always increase your odds of acceptance, there are ways to apply to B-school with limited work experience. US News recently highlighted a few strategies on how to apply for an MBA, even if you don’t have the minimum required experience.


Most business schools prefer applicants to have work experience, but the minimum years of experience is evaluated more loosely.

“When we look at their work experience, what we’re looking for is in whatever they have done, what have they accomplished?” says Jim Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. “What is the impact they’ve had on the organizations that they’ve been a part of? What are the transferable skills they’ve developed in whatever they have done?” Holmen recommends applicants to highlight their achievements on their resume and avoid simply bulleting roles and responsibilities.


Business schools like to see applicants who show a deep interest in their career goals and demonstrate how an MBA program will help them reach those goals.

“We’re going to seek to understand how much thought you have really put into the specific industry that you’re looking to infiltrate,” Mikale Elliott, associate director of recruiting for full-time MBA programs at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, says. “How much do you know about it in the first place, to understand your interest level, but also if you understand what skill sets might be necessary to be successful in that function area.”

Additionally, many business schools like to see applicants who can map out their end goals and describe several clear paths to achieve said goals through an MBA program.

“As you’re weaving all of those things together, it makes sense for your interviewer to say, ‘OK, you’ve thought about this, you know what you’re getting into and have connected the dots and you’ve got a reasonable plan A, plan B and plan C,’” Jason Rife, senior assistant dean of the Career Management Center and graduate admissions at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, says.

Sources: US News,, The Wharton School

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