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Is full-time work experience required for MBA applicants?

August 19 2014 By The MBA Exchange
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Well, no and yes.

“No” because 3 highly respected business schools (Harvard, Stanford and Yale) encourage applications specifically from undergraduates with no prior full-time work experience. Those institutions help admitted individuals secure significant jobs that enhance their resumes and prepare them to be stronger students and more valuable contributors in the MBA classroom upon matriculation.

But these are highly selective business schools, so even a high GPA and GMAT score won’t ensure success. Extracurricular activities, summer jobs, and personal achievements are hugely important, along with excellent essays, recommendations and interviews.

However, for most future MBAs, the answer is “yes” — leading business schools typically accept applicants who have 2-5 years of full-time work background. The admissions committees like to see evidence of knowledge, skills and maturity demonstrated on the job. Furthermore, having prior employment allows the applicant to submit a recommendation from his or her current supervisor, which is preferred by most b-schools. Having been in the workplace before b-school enables an MBA student to share “war stories” about past challenges that can add to the learning of classmates. And showing full-time positions on the resume in addition to academic excellence makes a candidate more appealing to potential employers for internships and post-MBA positions.

That said, whether or not you have full-time work experience, it’s never too early to start optimizing your campaign. If you’d like to know whether your candidacy is truly competitive, The MBA Exchange is glad to provide you with a free, expert evaluation on our website at For those who want to pursue admission before or after college graduation, we offer comprehensive guidance and support to help make your dream a reality.

This blog post is provided by The MBA Exchange, a leading provider of admissions and career consulting services worldwide since 1996.