Do you need a business degree to study an MBA?

October 08 2018
Do you need a business degree to study an MBA?

As far as postgraduate qualifications go, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most prestigious courses on offer. It is a highly sought-after degree among aspiring business owners, future managers and other working professionals who would like to pursue some extra leadership know-how to advance their career prospects. 

Although its name might imply otherwise, an MBA is not all about business. If you’re interested in this degree but don’t have the relevant qualifications, read on to see why an MBA could still be within your reach. 

Can I enrol in an MBA with a non-business degree?

The short answer is yes. 

It’s no secret that a diverse range of professionals, with prior degrees in everything from engineering to the social sciences, seek out an MBA qualification to further their career prospects. This is because an MBA is about more than research and specialist knowledge – instead, emphasis is placed on the attainment of practical, real-world skills such as critical thinking and problem solving to develop aspiring managers from many industries. That an MBA primarily focuses on applied knowledge – rather than just pure business know-how – means that it can be a viable option for non-business degree holders who are interested in advancing their careers through leadership roles. It’s also worth noting that business schools actively create diverse cohorts within their MBA programs, encouraging students from different scholarly backgrounds to merge their skills and knowledge. 

However, an MBA degree does require applicants to have a certain degree of basic business knowledge to see them through their studies. If you hold a non-business degree, this may be something you need to brush up on – having a good understanding of areas such as statistics, accounting and finance will greatly enhance your comprehension of an MBA’s business elements. Instead of trying to learn the foundations while juggling your MBA studies (and risk falling behind!), complete a pre-MBA course or graduate certificate in accounting and finance before you enrol to ensure you’ve got the basics under control. Ensure that you fulfil all prerequisites, whether they be high scores on tests such as the GMAT, relevant work experience or a minimum average grade for your undergraduate studies – these can vary by school, so do check each individual program.  

It’s also useful to consider if an MBA is the most appropriate option for your leadership aspirations. Explore other postgraduate degrees within your current field to see if there’s any courses that can better equip you with the specific skills and knowledge required for future management opportunities. 

I’m interested in an MBA but don’t have an undergraduate degree – what are my chances?

This one isn’t as clear cut. While many business schools require a bachelor degree from prospective applicants, others are more flexible with their admissions policy. 

If you’re interested in an MBA but don’t have the necessary qualifications, do your research to find universities that offer alternative entry pathways. It will involve meeting certain criteria, but you may find that you’ve already managed to fulfil some through your education and career so far. Some schools will admit students to their MBA program on the basis of extensive and impressive professional experience, particularly if it’s involved managerial roles. Relevant business qualifications such as graduate certificates or diplomas are also considered, as are high GMAT scores. Do remember that admission requirements vary by business school, so explore your MBA options to ensure that you find the best fit for you.