The MBA age range

Depending on the educational system that applicants come from, they might be eligible to apply for an MBA as early as 22 if they left school at 17, got their Bachelor’s degree in three years and worked for two years immediately after graduation.

But what age is considered the limit and why? UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2013 had a student who was 42 years old, and in 2011 MIT Sloan accepted a 60-year-old former Wall Street executive into their Master’s in Finance programme. So, it seems business schools can be quite open to committed students of all ages.

Check out: The MBA Age Range: Are You Too Young or Too Old For an MBA?

How age matters for an MBA

It is work experience that actually counts. Schools do not usually quote age limits. Rather, they have requirements for the number of years of full-time relevant experience. Requirements might simply specify a minimum number of years, for a minimum and maximum or just a maximum. Most full-time MBAs require at least two or three years of full-time experience. To qualify for an Executive MBA you will usually need at least five years of professional experience or even some managerial responsibilities. Naturally, the more work experience you have the older you are.

Potential for career growth is another factor that is affected by your age. If you are in your forties – an age that may be considered a frontier for an MBA - you still have at least 20 active professional years ahead during which to grow into top managerial positions, consultancy, business ventures or social entrepreneurship.

Return on investment is an aspect of MBA planning that many aspiring professionals take into serious consideration. Even though students can leverage their investment, and so speed up the ROI, with scholarships or other types of financial aid provided by the business schools, the MBA is a considerable investment in terms of time, staying out of the labour market for a year or two and financing the tuition, fees, living and travel expenses.

A Bloomberg analysis suggests that ROI-wise the best age for an MBA is between 28 and 34. This analysis takes into consideration the pay levels being at 120,000 USD for the age range of 28-34, 30 being the peak of the pay level. The research shows that pay drops at the ages of 36 and 37 to 110,000 USD.

Check out also: How Are Age and ROI of MBA Programmes Related?

Personal and social commitments normally also grow with age. Philippe Oster, Communications, Admissions and Development Director for the HEC Paris MBA shared for BusinessBecause:

It’s much harder to move to a different city or country if you have a family, though a “good proportion” of international students at HEC Paris have kids and have still benefited from an enriching experience, enhancing their career prospects.

At this stage of life and career, MBA studies can be truly overwhelming, as they come in addition to your professional and personal responsibilities. If you already hold a position of higher responsibility and have family commitments, doing an MBA will add yet another item to your multitasking life-style. However, an MBA is usually very refreshing because it simply takes you away from your routine, and one of the great rewards that many MBA graduates joke about is that you will have so much more free time after completing the MBA.

The MBA Age Range Infographic

Full-time MBA vs. Executive MBA

The full-time MBA and the Executive MBA are two different formats of an MBA programme.

The full-time MBA requires that you quit your job and commit to your studies for one or two years. This format usually attracts younger professionals. It is also considered a good option for career switchers in terms of industry, country or position.

Check out: EMBA vs MBA: How They Differ

The Executive MBA format is targeted at senior professionals with at least five years of work experience and higher levels of responsibility. The average work experience in an EMBA can be about 10 years. Naturally the age range is higher and you can find students close to their fifties in an EMBA classroom. The schedule of classes enables EMBA students to combine their studies with a full-time job. However, business targets have to be adapted for the duration of studies for which an employer endorsement may be required as a part of the application package.

Check out: How to Survive an Executive MBA

When we speak about MBA studies is general, regardless of the type of programme and format, the age range is actually quite open. As already mentioned, schools seldom impose age limits in the admission requirements, so the choice is all yours. If around your forties you can convince the business school of your choice that the full-time MBA is what matches your potential and career goals, go ahead.