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Do I need work experience to apply for an MBA?

Blog Date
August 30,

Key takeaways:

  • If you want to apply for an MBA, you must be ready to take on the challenge of studying full-time.
  • An MBA is more than just a degree. It  is also a managerial training programme.
  • You might be able to get into an MBA programme without work experience. Still, you will have a much easier time if you have some work experience under your belt.
  • An MBA with work experience gives you more than just job skills; it teaches you how to manage your time and prioritise tasks.
  • If you don’t have work experience before pursuing your MBA, there are ways to prepare yourself before applying for an MBA programme, such as volunteering or taking on volunteer roles in your current field or industry.

If you are considering applying to business schools, you might wonder if your lack of work experience will hold you back. You are not alone. Many applicants worry that they are too young or don’t have the proper credentials, but there are plenty of ways to overcome this obstacle and get into the programme of your dreams.

The good news is that most schools don’t require a certain number of years in the workforce before applying, so you don’t have to wait until you’ve worked for many years before taking the plunge into business school. Some schools have more applicants who have never worked than those with experience.

While some people who pursue an MBA do so after working in their field for a while, others pursue their first master’s degree as a path to their dream job. It is important to know what makes for a strong application to give yourself the best chance of getting into the programme of your choice.

Why do MBA programmes require work experience?

The answer to this question is a bit complex, but it boils down to the value of work experience.

MBA programmes are designed to train students to be business leaders. To be prepared for the challenges that come with the role, learners must have an MBA with work experience in a real-world environment. This means they need to understand how differently people in a team interact and how they can contribute their unique skills and perspectives.

Additionally, work experience also indicates maturity and commitment. 

Typical work experience among incoming MBA students

Because of the emphasis on career preparation in MBA programmes, students need to have some work experience in the field before they begin their studies. This can be done through internships, volunteer work, or paid jobs relevant to your field of study.

The benefits are twofold: first, you will have more confidence while entering your MBA programme because you already have some experience under your belt; second, you will be most likely to succeed once you graduate.

Work experience among incoming MBA students is varied and rich. Most students have between 1-5 years of work experience before applying to a business school. 

The most common industry sectors of incoming MBA students are consulting, financial services, and technology. In addition, many students have worked in non-profit organisations or with start-up ventures. More than half of incoming students report having worked abroad in at least one of their previous positions, with China being the most popular destination.

MBAs’ most commonly held positions as working professionals are finance, consulting, and operations management. Sales roles are also prevalent among new students. 

How much work experience is ideal for an MBA?

If you are planning to apply to a business school, you might wonder how much work experience is ideal for pursuing an MBA.

Most programmes generally demand a full-time work experience of 2-5 years before applying for an MBA. If you are applying to an accelerated programme or one that requires a significant amount of self-study, less than two years may suffice. 

Many part-time programmes prefer applicants who have worked for a short time. In contrast, others look favourably for applicants with up to 7 years of full-time work experience before applying. Some schools also emphasise internships more than others.

Average MBA work experience for top programmes

When looking at the application requirements for an MBA programme, you will see that most schools require candidates to have at least 2 years of work experience before applying. 

It is because they want applicants ready to hit the ground running after graduation. If you’ve only been working for two years, chances are that your skills and knowledge aren’t as developed as they will be by the time you finish your degree programme.

That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. If your previous jobs were in highly specialised fields like business analytics, those might not count toward your total years of work experience because they are closer to what you will be studying in school than other positions. In addition, if you’ve already finished a bachelor’s degree programme, some of them may waive the requirement or allow you to apply with less than two years’ of employment under your belt (as long as all other requirements have been met).

Does an internship count as work experience for an MBA?

Yes, an internship counts for an MBA with work experience.

An internship is a paid or unpaid position where a student or recent graduate works in a company to gain the credibility of an MBA with working professionals’ experience. Internships are a great way to gain real-world insight into the field you are interested in pursuing and can help you land a job after graduation.

For those hoping to get into management consulting after their MBA studies, internships are beneficial because they provide a chance to learn how managers think and what leadership skills they possess. In addition, they offer valuable insights into the financial, legal, and ethical issues companies face today. An internship can also give you helpful information about what it is like to work within a specific industry sector or business model.

Best work experience for an MBA

A good certification of MBA with work experience is integral to getting into a quality company. If your application shows that you are passionate about the work you do and feel challenged by it, it will better reflect who you really are.

If you are applying for an MBA programme, you need to show that you can handle the pressure of being in the business world.

The best way to do this is by having a resume highlighting the different positions you’ve held at companies known for their high standards and demands. These types of jobs demand a lot from each employee.

Can I get an MBA without work experience?

If you are thinking about going back to school for an MBA, you may be wondering if you can pursue an MBA without having work experience. Here’s what you need to know about getting an MBA without work experience-

  • Most schools expect you to have at least one year of experience as a working professional before applying for their programme. If you don’t have that much experience, ask your school about their exceptions policy. Some schools do allow students close to the 2-year mark in terms of experience.
  • Some schools offer online options or part-time programmes. These options may be more flexible and allow students with no work experience to enrol in a degree programme. At the same time, they continue working in full-time or part-time jobs.
  • Talk to your school’s career services department about your situation, as they may be able to help connect you with alumni who can share their experiences and advice about how best to approach applying for an MBA programme without work experience at your school.

Why choose the MAHE MBA programme curated for working professionals?

The MBA programme by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) through Online Manipal is designed to be completed in 2 years, with 3 semesters per year. The curriculum is focused on providing students with the skills they require to excel in their workplace. The course is designed in such a way that students can graduate with a valuable degree even if they have a full-time job. 

Working professionals are often looking for ways to advance in their careers without taking time off work, which could cost them their job or send their careers into a tailspin. This programme allows them to improve their skills and earn an MBA while continuing their careers as usual.

Because this programme is designed for learners with full-time jobs, it offers online and on-campus options so students can choose what works best for them. Students will also be able to take advantage of specialised resources such as career counselling services and networking opportunities with other MBA students and alumni from around the world.

What are the qualities, experiences and skills that high-end business schools look for in applicants?

In the world of business school admissions, there are certain qualities, experiences, and skills that are expected of applicants. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Leadership skills

You’ve got to be a leader if you want to get into an elite business school. That means having the ability to motivate people and inspire them to do their best.

  • The ability to work in a team

You will be working in small groups on projects throughout your course at an elite business school, so this is an essential skill for success there.

  • An understanding of how businesses work

This isn’t just about knowing how to balance the books—you will  need to understand how different departments interact with each other and what drives each one individually as well as collectively.

  • The ability to think critically and analytically

If you want to be successful at an elite business school, you should be able to solve problems creatively without getting stuck in old ways of thinking or making assumptions about what others’ motives might be instead of asking them directly first.

Final thoughts 

The Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) with Online Manipal is a pioneer in online MBA education and has the highest ranking among the top 10 Schools across India. It is recognized by UGC and AICTE. 

The institution offers a wide range of programmes that are designed to meet the needs of students who wish to pursue their career in management. The courses offered at MAHE are designed by experts with industry experience along with a strong focus on real-world applications, ensuring that you are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in your career.


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

  • TAGS
  • Manipal Academy of Higher Education
  • MBA for working professionals
  • online degree
  • online education in India
  • Online MBA

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