MBA Without Work Experience | A Quick Guide

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Can you get into an MBA program without work experience? A one-word answer to the question is yes! However, it is certainly not a straightforward one. There are many factors to be considered here.

An MBA program is built on the premise that you have some real-world experience before you sign up.  Nevertheless, if you are choosing to go ahead without the requisite work experience, then you must possess more than just a “regular” profile. So, it may not be the best thing to rely on your academic prowess alone. For instance, you may need to display a deep understanding of corporate affairs. You can accomplish this in several ways. You can provide details of internships or proof of valuable experience which display great conflict resolution skills. On the other hand, you could talk about your experiences that display maturity beyond your age.

The best business schools around the world require a certain amount of work experience from their applicants. However, this does not mean that you do not have options. There are good business schools that will accept applications for their MBA program even from those who do not have work experience.

Business Schools in the USA- MBA Abroad without Work Experience

The best business schools mention a minimum of two-years as work experience. While it is said that such experience is not required, they do mention that it is preferable (read important!). However, there are schools that do accept fresh graduates. If you are not worried about the ranking of the school, then consider the below:

  1. Olin Graduate School of Business, Babson College, Massachusetts
  2. University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts
  3. California State University, California
  4. University of Dayton, Ohio
  5. New York University of Technology, New York
  6. South East Missouri University, Missouri
  7. The University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
  8. University of New Haven, Connecticut
  9. Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island
  10. North Eastern Illinois State University, Illinois
  11. McDonough School of Business, Georgetown, Washington DC

Thinking “Only Best Schools”?

If you are only keen on pursuing an MBA program in a reputed business school, then a slight change in strategy may be warranted. There are two options ahead of you.


For almost decades, post-graduate education in management meant an MBA degree. However, the MIM (Masters in Management) program, a European concept, slowly began to gain traction in the US too. This program is essentially a degree in management but that is where the similarities between an MBA and a MIM program end.

MIM programs offer specializations and help students build knowledge through classroom lectures and case studies alone. There may be internships as part of the program and this depends on the school and the program.   Apart from all of this, a MIM program allows you to pursue a management degree immediately after an undergraduate degree. Check out this article for more about the choice between a Masters in Management and an MBA program.

There are several great programs around the world that you can sign up for. Based on the rankings published by Financial Times for the xaround the world, here are the top ten programs for the year 2019:

Ranking Name of School
1 HEC Paris Business School, Paris
2 University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
3 ESSEC Business School., Paris
4 London Business School
5 ESCP Europe- France, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy
6 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands
7 University College Dublin: Smurfit, Ireland
8 CEMS Global Alliance
9 WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Austria
10 Università Bocconi, Italy


Deferred MBA programs

Almost all graduates coming out of a bachelor’s program are fixated about their careers and the options available in this regard. Without a doubt, a break from the exams and the constant studying seems appealing and most attractive. However, a post-graduate degree after a break seems daunting if not almost impossible. The uncertainty surrounding such a future event and its successful conclusion can be stressful.

What if you are provided with a chance to block a seat at one of the best business schools around the world? Would you not jump at such an opportunity?

Deferred programs allow you to reserve a seat in a business school. Once you have been admitted into a program, you can take the necessary time (2-3 years depending on the program) to gather the necessary experience before you are welcomed into the program. This is a win-win situation for both applicants and schools. While students can spend the required number of years worry-free, the schools get to grab and reserve the best talent for themselves.

So, let’s look at some of the options that you have in deferred MBA programs.


Sr. No. Schools Name Program Name
1 Harvard Business Schools Harvard 2+2 Program
2 Yale School of Management The Yale Silver Scholars Program
3 Stanford Graduate School of Business Stanford MBA
4 Indian School of Business ISB Young Leader Program
5 University of Booth Chicago School of Business Booth Scholars Program
6 MIT Sloan MBA Sloan MBA Early Admission
7 Penn Wharton Wharton MBA Program

Advantages of an MBA Without Work Experience

The biggest advantage for students pursuing an MBA colleges without work experience is age. Signing up for a master’s immediately after a bachelor’s gives an edge academically, culturally and professionally. The international exposure and a chance to gain quality higher education early are perfect. It sets you up well for a great start to your career. Let’s look at some more distinctive advantages-

  • ROI must be mentioned as it is definitely an important factor. If you are looking for a job straight out of undergraduate college, your options may be limited as your knowledge is mostly theoretical. However, once you are through an MBA degree, your capabilities and skill set does improve dramatically. This is the result of internships and exposure you get in business schools. This improves the starting salary numbers dramatically.
  • If you are heading to business school right after undergrad, then chances are you do not have to do much to get into the groove of studying all over again. This is certainly an advantage for recent graduates as they can adjust to the demands and schedules much easier than their working counterparts.
  • The internships (international or otherwise), case studies, live projects and numerous other activities, part of the curriculum, will be helpful in kick starting your career.
  • Signing up for an MBA early on allows you to pursue a career without breaks.

Disadvantages of an MBA without Work Experience

The MBA curriculum is built so it can enhance your technical knowledge using your understanding of real-world issues and problems faced by organizations. Further, it hopes to polish your soft skills and improve your network so you can give your career the perfect boost.

On average, the students signing up for such programs come with 2-3 years (based on the school and the program. So, this number can be even higher) of work experience in the respective fields. If you choose to sign up for an MBA program without work experience, there are certain distinct disadvantages.


  • Consider the employment records of MBA students for the year 2017-18. 15% of the full-time jobs accepted were offered by Pre-MBA Employers. While this number may not seem relevant or big, consider that your experience in a firm may lead to a better role once you have completed the MBA program. There is a sense that experienced MBA graduates gain much more in terms of experience, exposure, and network. The job offers and the career prospects of such students are far superior as compared to those who have do not have experience.
  • Finding a sponsor for your education may be tricky especially if you have not been lucky with the scholarship. However, if you are returning to school after a few years or more of work, then chances are that you have attained a certain amount of financial independence. You are more likely to be in a better position to support your education.
  • Business schools look for unique and academically strong candidates. In fact, having a diverse class profile (students from different parts of the world featuring unique backgrounds) contributes to their overall ranking. Therefore, your work experience has a valuable role to play in ensuring that you are an attractive candidate for the program.
  • The curriculum is spread over two years (full-time) and the necessary skills are imparted through lectures, case studies, and projects among other means. Therefore, real-world experiences are critical in understanding the above. Furthermore, you will have a lot of catching up to do if you are in the minority as far as experience is concerned!
  • When it comes to placements, lower or middle management is on offer when it comes to freshers. However, if you have had prior experience, then the management program will have enhanced your skills to allow you to for higher management roles.

Exploring an MBA without work experience is an interesting idea, but there are a lot of factors to consider before you take the plunge—both from a personal perspective and from a career standpoint. Just be sure to consider both sides of the coin before deciding one way or another about your preferred degree program. You’ll have to weigh your own opinions heavily when making this decision, but you can certainly make it a decision worth making.
Having considered the above, it is important to make the right decision based on your individual situation. Good luck!


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