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MBA After BA: Should I Do an MBA After a Non-Business Undergraduate Degree?

mba after mba decision programs

Although choosing an MBA program straight after your BA isn’t always common, it isn’t unheard of.

In fact, over half of MBA candidates hold non-business-related undergraduate degrees (54 percent), according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, which designs and administers the Graduate Management Assessment Test (GMAT).

As an advanced degree, an MBA focuses on practical real-world knowledge rather than theoretical or research-based material.

Many MBA programs include internships as part of their graduation requirements, meaning you’ll get the hands-on experience you’ll need for a role in the business world.

The MBA’s interdisciplinary approach caters to students with diverse undergraduate majors, from engineering to humanities and everything in between.

Although most MBA applicants aren’t from a business background, incoming MBA students usually have foundational business skills.

Many programs require students to take core classes in statistics, accounting and finance before taking MBA classes as, without these basic business skills, students will find it difficult to develop managerial abilities – so bear this in mind.

You might wonder why a business school would select you if you haven’t gained this core knowledge already, but the truth is that business schools want to enroll diverse cohorts because they want to replicate the diverse nature of the modern workplace. MBA programs emphasize management skills, and a diverse cohort more closely replicates real-world management situations.

What are the best MBA programs for a non-business degree?

From fashion to healthcare and everything in between, there are a number of specialized MBA programs you can take after your non-business degree:

  • MBA in Marketing
  • MBA in Finance
  • MBA in Information Technology
  • MBA in Aviation Management
  • MBA in Agribusiness
  • MBA in Data
  • MBA in Media Management
  • MBA in Data Analytics

Why is an MBA advantageous for students with non-business majors?

Students with a bachelor’s degree in another field enjoy a number of benefits when undertaking an MBA program.

Once you graduate from your MBA, you’ll be specialized in business and another field, which makes you a catch for some industries. For example, many companies prefer to hire non-business majors with knowledge in specialized fields like technology, recruitment and medical research.

An MBA will also give you corporate-level business management training, as well as emphasizing management skills – such as understanding corporate organizations.  Plus, MBA coursework builds skills such as managing financial resources, managing people and evaluating business decisions.

What is it like pursuing an MBA as a non-business applicant?

An MBA provides a range of career opportunities for graduates, including management within both private or non-profit corporations, becoming a financial manager, or pursuing a director role.

But if you don’t have a background in business, it’s important to decide whether an MBA will help you achieve your professional goals.

Research the careers an MBA program will prepare you for, especially if you have a degree in a specific/specialized undergraduate major.

Before you start the (long) application process associated with an MBA, think about whether or not an MBA will serve your career interests. Will an MBA allow you to move into upper management positions at companies that specialize in your undergraduate area of expertise?

If you’re still stumped, be sure to do your due diligence and speak with mentors or colleagues about career advancement opportunities with an MBA.

Prospective students should consider whether advanced certificates, graduate certificates, or specialized training programs make more send than an MBA degree – which takes a lot longer to complete with a substantial price tag by comparison. Although an MBA is required for some industries and career paths, a certification will provide similar opportunities in other fields.

If you make the decision to pursue an MBA, you’ll need to research MBA prerequisites at the schools you’re interested in.

Applicants without a business undergraduate degree often need to complete MBA core classes before taking graduate coursework, and competitive GMAT scores help show your business acumen.

As MBA programs are all about diversity, you shouldn’t let your lack of a business undergraduate degree stop you from considering an MBA.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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