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How Much Experience Is Required for an MBA?

Deciding to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree is a big step! Once you’ve made this decision, keep in mind that it is better to complete your MBA after you have acquired relevant experience. How many years of experience you need before that MBA varies, though, so here are a few tips to guide you in figuring out what type and how much work experience you need for an MBA.

Do You Need Work Experience to Get an MBA?

You will need at least two years of work experience for an MBA program. Most MBA programs typically require between two to four years of work experience in order to apply (the average student enters with about five years of professional experience). Some of the top business schools can even require up to seven years.

Why Do MBA Programs Require Work Experience?

This type of on-the-job experience is important because students with relevant professional experience are typically better prepared for the curriculum, more confident, and more proactive in their academic experience.

Occasionally,  applicants in the accelerated MBA program at Augsburg University may petition to waive the MBA 520 accounting course if they have passed the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) and Certified Management Accountants (CMA). Having prior work experience also helps MBA applicants develop clear expectations on what they need out of the program.

Especially in a program such as ours, which takes only 26 months, there isn’t a lot of time for students to waste in exploring their aspirations like they might’ve during undergraduate studies. Incoming MBA students are focused and enjoy the cohort model because of the interaction between students based on their work experience. Being equipped with relevant experience will also enhance the program experience, providing the student with the appropriate knowledge to actively participate in course discussions, enabling real-world applications, and guiding smarter choices in electives and other program requirements.

Are you ready to advance your career with an MBA? Explore our MBA program.

How Much Work Experience Do You Need for an MBA?

Although there are specialized programs that do not require it, it is better to have work experience for MBA admissions. How many years of experience do you need before an MBA? The average expectation is about two to three years, but there are people who have been accepted to MBA programs with little work experience. The specific amount of time varies by school and program.

  • MBA with two years of work experience: Being admitted to an MBA with two years of experience represents the minimum work experience for many MBA programs. There are some specialized programs for newly graduated students with at least two years of work experience under their belt. These will be some of the most basic (i.e., not highly specialized) MBA degrees.
  • MBA with three years of work experience: Applying for an MBA after three years of experience can open up more opportunities for specialized coursework like finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
  • MBA with five years of work experience: Pursuing an MBA after five years of experience allows for a much stronger chance of being admitted to a specialized MBA program. If your professional experience is in managerial work, then you become eligible for executive MBA (EMBA) programs, which can offer greater flexibility in workload and allow for full-time work during the program.
  • MBA with eight years of work experience: This may seem like a lot, but an MBA after eight years of experience is ideal for the highest-caliber business schools, specifically for full-time programs. Many people worry that eight to 10 years is too much to be an appealing applicant to MBA programs, but do not fret—this is exceptional business school work experience! You will have greater access to highly specialized, accelerated programs that can be finished in as little as one year.

How Much Work Experience Is Required for an Executive MBA?

Executive MBA work experience requirements will typically be five or more years—but not just any kind of work experience. Having a professional role in managerial work is ideal for admission into an MBA program. Although an EMBA program is not dramatically different from an MBA, an EMBA student will likely be able to maintain a full-time job during the program and may even be able to work at a faster pace than they would in a typical MBA program. Are you interested in this? Learn more about the differences between standard MBAs and executive MBA programs.

What Kind of Work Experience Is Required for an MBA?

The quality of your work experience is just as important as the quantity, if not more so. The best work experience for your MBA depends on your particular career interests and aspirations. Does part time count as work experience for an MBA? It’s possible; however, experience as an accountant, for example, will carry a heavier weight in the admission process than a part time job like cashiering at a mom-and-pop business.

Does an Internship Count As Work Experience for an MBA?

Important things to keep in mind about potentially using your internship as your work experience when applying for an MBA are that, generally, many internships are unpaid positions and so may not qualify for formal, professional experience. (You can expect the same when planning to apply for an MBA with volunteer experience.) They are also typically short-lived, so you will have to rack up more than one internship experience to meet the average minimum work experience for MBA requirements.

Assuming that your position was in a reputable institution, or at least one that is directly relevant to your career goals, a part-time position does count as work experience. However, using a part-time role as your MBA work experience means that you may need more years under your belt to match that of a full-time position.

The bottom line is: Don’t get caught up in an extended internship commitment before you start wondering, Should I get work experience before applying to an MBA? Get started and complete it as early as you can. The sooner, the better.

Best Work Experience for an MBA

The best work experience for your MBA is that which is directly related to your projected curriculum. If you are aiming for an MBA program in finance, you may want to have experience as an accountant, finance manager, or analyst. Additionally, you want to make sure that your work experience is in a reputable institution so that you have strong references and a quality start to your professional reputation.

A few examples of some of the most promising fields to get involved in for your MBA education are finance, marketing, and data analytics.

Before you begin the process of applying to an MBA program, make sure to organize your business and academic goals to compose the best application you can. Do as much research in advance as you can to prepare your professional route and then narrow down what type of work experience will be best for the program you choose.

Lastly, remember that you can begin planning to apply to an MBA program after two years of work experience, but your chances of acceptance will increase with more work experience.

Explore Augsburg University’s MBA program or contact mbainfo@augsburg.edu to talk with MBA experts today.

Are you ready to advance your career with an MBA? Explore our MBA program.