Can I get an MBA even if I do not have work experience?


Judy O’Neill Associate Dean and Director of Admission Atkinson Graduate School of Management Willamette University

Yes, you can. MBA programs are changing. Different MBA programs are designed to meet different goals. Students who want to complete their MBA early in their career have the opportunity to select an MBA program designed specifically for recent college graduates and students with one to three years of experience who are seeking their first professional position. These programs are generally referred to as “early career” MBA programs because they provide early career students the full range of real professional experience, knowledge, and the career management tools needed to succeed as early career professionals.

How Should I Choose an MBA Program if I Do Not Have Work Experience?

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The program you choose as an early career MBA student is very important because you will be utilizing your MBA experience to develop the knowledge, experience and professional tools you need to launch your career. As an early career student, your opportunities will be determined not by your MBA credential, alone, but on the new skills you develop while you earn the degree.

  • Choose a full-time MBA program that emphasizes experiential learning and career services. This is important because early career students build the professional experience employers value through participating in client consulting projects, internships, professional organizations, mentor programs, networking opportunities, etc. Although, many MBA programs admit students without work experience, only a handful are actually designed for early career students.
  • Choose a program that provides breadth and depth of knowledge. The combination of general knowledge and expertise support the decision-making skills managers need throughout their career. It is also a major benefit that separates the MBA from the Master of Accounting and other highly discipline focused master degrees.

What Are The Benefits of an Early Career MBA Program?

Investing in an early career MBA has career, economic and strategic benefits.

  • An early career MBA has all the benefits of a traditional MBA program and more.
  • Financial ROI for a graduate degree is generally higher when you complete your degree earlier in your career. Starting salaries can be markedly higher than with an undergraduate degree. Early career MBA graduates have more years of their work life during which they can earn higher salaries and their MBA opportunity cost is reduced.

The Bottom Line

Early career MBA students don’t have to wait until they have years of professional work experience to get the MBA they want to jump-start their career. Willamette University’s full-time MBA program is specifically designed for Early Career students. As one of the first early careers MBA programs in the country, we are happy to answer your questions.

This article has been re-published as per the terms of LEAP Partners Program with Official GMAT.

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