Can You Receive an MBA Admission Before College Graduation?

College Students around a computer

A master of business administration (MBA) degree feels like the right next step for you, personally and professionally. MBAs come with a lot of benefits, so it makes sense that MBA admissions is a competitive scene. In order to maximize your chances, when is the best time to apply for an MBA? Can you apply for an MBA before you graduate from college? How much work experience do you really need to get into top business schools?

A lot of factors go into deciding your MBA application timeline. Check out these key points the business school admissions experts at The MBA Exchange focus on when it comes to when to apply to an MBA program, and how to apply for an MBA.

Can you apply for an MBA without a degree?

Undergraduate students are often surprised to learn that approximately 20 MBA programs across the US will consider their applications even before graduation from college. These business schools range from prestigious Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB to under-the-radar UC San Diego. A few minutes online will produce a surprisingly impressive list of top MBA programs for you to consider.

Some business schools have formal, dedicated processes in place for evaluating MBA applicants who are college seniors, while other MBA programs simply include college seniors in the overall pool of business school applicants. A few universities limit consideration to only those applicants currently enrolled in their own undergrad programs. And several business schools even waive application fees and offer special, merit-based scholarships to these young candidates.

For older applicants with more professional experience, executive MBA (EMBA) programs may be of interest. EMBA programs can have unique requirements when it comes to your past university experience or lack thereof.

What do you need to apply for an MBA?

While you don’t necessarily need a completed undergrad degree for a seat in an MBA class, there are some typical requirements you should know about when it comes to the question of how to apply for an MBA. You’re going to need:

  • Top grades in rigorous, relevant courses
  • A sufficiently strong score on required admissions tests like the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT™) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE®)
  • A letter of recommendation, potentially two, ideally from individuals with relevant direct experience of your management, financial and other professional skills

Are you going to have it all together by MBA application deadlines in this year’s application cycle? Or do you need some extra time to complete the MBA application process? Admissions officers are looking for polished candidates. Make sure you’re ready to impress admissions committees at your target business schools! You may also need to meet specific requirements in order to qualify for scholarships.

When to apply for an MBA?

The question of when to apply for an MBA mostly depends on you and your degree of preparedness. You need to have your application strategy fully developed before you launch your candidacy, no two ways about that. Figure out how long you’re going to need to be ready to present a compelling application package to top MBA programs, and how that intersects with your career goals and prospects for post-graduation jobs. Then figure out when it makes most sense for you to apply.

Maybe you want to prepare for your MBA campaign early. For current college students interested in early decision options, you can round out your MBA candidacy with part-time jobs, internships and organizational leadership roles even if you’re still in college.

Undergraduate students can also get a jump start on early admissions by connecting with professors as mentors, advisors and future recommenders, and taking time for a campus visit or two, all helpful in understanding the ins and outs of how to apply for an MBA.

Even if you end up pursuing business school admission a few years down the road, the information you collect, the people you meet, and candidacy-building steps you take now will only make you a more competitive and confident MBA applicant in the future, and that much more likely to gain entrance to your first-choice program.

MBA admissions runs in multiple rounds over the course of each year in the USA, as well as year-round internationally. If you need to take more time to perfect your candidacy, for example by improving your GMAT score or enhancing your work experience, you have plenty of options, so don’t panic. 

You can find out more about the best possible timing for when to apply for an MBA by getting in touch with the team at The MBA Exchange. We understand how to apply for an MBA and succeed. Submit your free profile evaluation today to start conceptualizing your application timeline and putting together your MBA admissions strategy now.