What Are the Requirements for an MBA?

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Whether you want to advance or shift your career, a master of business administration (MBA) can help you reach that goal. Many online MBA programs allow students to specialize in a field, such as finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship.

Most students who earn an MBA have work experience. For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reports its online MBA students have been employed in the workforce for an average of 10 years. While not all programs require work experience to begin an MBA, employers may want to see a combination of education and practical experience.

When it comes to MBA requirements, applicants should possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution along with demonstrable skills in leadership, finance, accounting, and general business. Schools often require essays, professional recommendations, a resume, and GMAT or GRE test scores to verify these skills.

Education

MBA programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or to be almost finished with one. Most students work before applying to an MBA program to gain experience and narrow their field of focus. MBA programs often require 1-2 years of work experience, though some applicants have well over 10 years. More work experience could strengthen your MBA application.

After completing a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years of work experience, students begin an MBA. Online MBAs take as little as one year to complete; most programs take two years. In total, plan on at least six years of education and work.

While not necessary, some MBA programs prefer students with related bachelor’s degrees. For example, a student with a bachelor’s in finance may be a better candidate than someone with a bachelor’s in history.

Your bachelor’s degree could also help you specialize your MBA. For instance, an applicant with a bachelor’s in mathematics would be an excellent candidate for an MBA degree with a specialization in data analytics.

Undergraduate GPA

Not all schools require a minimum GPA to gain admission into an MBA program, though a strong GPA helps candidates stand out. Generally speaking, MBA applicants should have a 3.6 GPA. As expected, higher GPAs strengthen applications. Those with a GPA lower than 3.6 can supplement their application with strong standardized test scores or an impressive resume with excellent professional references.

Standardized Tests

When applying to graduate school, students usually submit standardized test scores to verify their readiness for specific subjects and ensure they are ready to begin a master’s degree. Students interested in an MBA should prepare to take the GMAT, GRE, or both.

GMAT

The GMAT uses multiple-choice questions to measure a student’s proficiency in algebra, geometry, data analysis, grammar, and basic arithmetic. The test consists of four sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal (with quantitative and verbal portions scored together).

Test-takers receive a cumulative score on a 200-800 scale based on 10-point increments. The average GMAT test-taker scores a 580, and the top 10% score a 710 or higher.

GRE

The most widely used standardized test for graduate school, the GRE covers verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. Students may complete the test in person or online, and they may retake the exam to improve their scores.

The GRE provides three separate scores: 130-170 for verbal reasoning, 130-170 for quantitative reasoning, and 0-6 for analytical writing. On test day, students select which scores they want to send to institutions.

GMAT vs. GRE

The GMAT serves as a business school readiness exam, while the GRE serves as a general graduate school readiness exam. Some schools only require one exam, so students must select which to submit. In this instance, students should take both exams and, then using a GRE/GMAT conversion chart, determine which of their scores is stronger.

Some schools may prioritize one exam over the other. Research the specific MBA program that interests you, and then determine which scores most improve your application.

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