Along with your academic capacity, personal accomplishments, and leadership potential, prior work experience is an important part of your MBA application. Having work experience shows responsibility, business knowledge, and ambition. All of these characteristics contribute to a higher chance of acceptance.

Why do MBA programs require work experience?

An MBA program requires students to have some amount of experience so they can be better prepared, more proactive, and confident in their academic experience.

MBA students are typically much more focused than undergraduate students. They enjoy the cohort model because of their interaction with people with relevant work experience. That stimulates more productive discussions and active participation. Candidates with experience are much more valuable since they contribute to the quality of the education process. The more knowledge you can offer, the more others can learn from your experience.

How many years of work experience do I need?

The amount of work experience required varies from school to school and depends on the type of program – full-time or part-time. The minimum requirement can be as low as two years. But the average work experience among new entrants in 2020 at ranked full-time MBA programs was about four years, according to US News.

While there are some schools that require only two years, applying for an MBA after three years of experience can open up more doors to specializations like marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. If you pursue an MBA degree after five years of work experience, then you will have a much higher chance of being admitted to a specialized MBA program. If you have more than eight years of managerial experience, you can become eligible for Executive MBA programs.

What type of work experience do I need?

When it comes to the type of experience business schools are looking for in an applicant, they don’t really have a preference for a specific sector. While many students come from investing, consulting, and other business-based jobs, that is in no way a requirement.

In fact, diversity in professional backgrounds is what gives MBA programs an edge. A class can be comprised of consultants, engineers, bankers and anything in between. That is one of the reasons why an MBA can lead you to a flexible career path.

Does experience outside of work count?

MBA students at top business schools usually have full-time work experience, however other types of work will not be overlooked. Hobbies, extra-curriculars, and community service involvement can strengthen your MBA application. Like with work experience, admissions committees aren’t looking for any kind of activity, in particular, they are looking for initiative.

Extra-curriculars not only give you a chance to showcase your leadership aptitude, but also reveal your values and interests. All those things will make the case for the valuable contribution you’ll bring to an MBA program. My advice is to find something you’re passionate about and get involvedyou wont regret it!” said Melody Jones, co-founder of Vantage Point Admissions Consulting, in an interview for Business Because.

In any case, having professional experience can really boost your application score. Drawing from real-life experience will make your MBA journey easier and much more exciting for you.