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Can You Get an MBA if Your Bachelor’s is Not in Business?

If you’re thinking about pursuing your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree but are afraid your bachelor’s in biology (or anything but business) might hold you back, there’s no need for concern. It’s just one more MBA myth to think that your undergraduate degree has to be in business or economics in order for you to succeed in an MBA program.

In fact, students without an undergraduate major in business comprised more than half of all MBA applicants in 2017, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. The U.S. Department of Education lists the MBA as the most diverse post-graduate program thanks to the proliferation of undergrad majors that include:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences

Even students with undergraduate degrees in religious or biblical studies are great MBA program candidates. In an interview with U.S. News, Robert Green, a 2014 MBA graduate who majored in philosophy as an undergrad, believes his liberal arts education, which supported creative and abstract thought, served him very well before, during, and after business school:

“People with a philosophical background tend to be visionary and may connect with people at a very emotional level or tap into a social or psychological vein that exposes a market opportunity that the MBA would want to service and satisfy.”

What do MBA program admission requirements have in common?

An MBA is considered a professional degree. The rigorous program of study prepares you for the practical application of real-world skills and knowledge, so no specific background is necessary. However, virtually all MBA programs do require a bachelor’s degree for admission that demonstrates your academic abilities, regardless of major.

If you don’t hold a business undergraduate degree, you may need to complete a set of MBA core or prerequisite classes. ACU Online offers these courses in a boot camp format which can be completed concurrently with the first few classes of the program for those with standard admission. The three prerequisite courses needed to ensure your success are:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Statistics

Because MBA programs prioritize working professionals, many schools require candidates to have a minimum amount of hands-on business experience. Although these requirements vary by program, most prefer to see between one and three years. Seventy-five percent of 2017 MBA applicants could claim at least one year of professional experience, according to Online MBA. This can be especially helpful if you don’t have an undergraduate business degree.

Some MBA programs prefer students with a solid track record of proven business success who are looking to move into management. Others take a broader approach when assessing a candidate’s background, attributing value to experiences such as working in a family-owned business or landing an entry-level position at a corporation right out of college.

Why is diversity valuable in MBA programs?

Not only are you not at a competitive disadvantage when applying for an MBA program if your undergraduate degree is unrelated to business, you might even benefit from an uncommon major, notes U.S. News. Admissions officers frequently strive to fill programs with a diverse, well-rounded group of students who come from a variety of undergraduate and professional backgrounds.

A diverse MBA program cohort helps you grow and learn through exposure to a range of different outlooks and experiences. Students feed off of each other’s strengths and work toward common goals while enjoying improved learning outcomes. Additionally, MBA programs place a strong emphasis on developing management and leadership skills, so a diverse cohort more closely replicates the real-world management challenges you’ll eventually face.

Ultimately, your long-term career and leadership potential are far more impressive and significant to MBA admissions committees than your undergraduate major.

Does an MBA really serve your career interests?

If you don’t have a background in business, it’s important to consider if an MBA is really what you need to achieve your career goals. A graduate degree can definitely improve career prospects for many — but it also requires a considerable investment in time, effort, and money. If you’re like many prospective students, you might be wondering, “Is an MBA worth it?”

Will an MBA help you move into upper management positions at companies that specialize in your undergraduate area of expertise? Do you plan to use your degree to pursue an entirely new field? Speak with some of your trusted mentors or professional colleagues about the career advancement opportunities you can expect once you earn an MBA.

Although certain career paths do require an MBA, you might find that a graduate certificate provides similar advancement opportunities in your field of interest. Some due diligence and self-reflection on the role you hope to play in community or global service can help you weigh your options and come to a wise decision.

Do you aspire to serve in the global marketplace with purpose based upon the foundation of Christian vocation? If you’re ready to be a part of a rigorous, convenient, and flexible online MBA program that allows you to take your leadership skills to a new level, consider ACU’s online MBA program.

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