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Earning an Online MBA Without a Business Degree

February 14, 2018
online mba program for anyone

MBAs: Not Just for Business Majors

If you’ve ever considered applying to an MBA program, you might have hesitated because you didn’t earn an undergraduate degree in a business-related field. Perhaps you have assumed that you wouldn’t be admitted due to your lack of a business background, or maybe the idea of all those math classes is a bit daunting given your liberal arts background.

There’s really no need to be concerned. MBA programs are for everyone, regardless of their undergraduate major. In fact, many business graduate programs are actively recruiting students from outside of the business world, as they bring diverse perspectives and knowledge to the business classroom.

Come One, Come All

Unlike other graduate degrees such as those in the sciences, the MBA is open to everyone because it is considered a professional degree. That is, it’s designed to equip individuals with the practical skills they need to succeed in business. MBA courses are interdisciplinary, building on the knowledge and skills you’ve gained from undergraduate courses as well as your work and life experiences.

Typically, online MBA curriculum provides a background in “hard skills,” such as economics and accounting, but focus at least in equal measure on developing “soft skills,” the communication, problem-solving, leadership and critical thinking abilities that can be applied to just about every field. The MBA isn’t just about learning to crunch numbers; it’s about learning how to apply knowledge from various disciplines to business scenarios, creating more well-rounded and effective business leaders.

If you still aren’t convinced that your undergraduate major isn’t an impediment to being admitted to an online MBA program, consider this: Only about 34 percent of MBA candidates have a background in business, business administration or economics. The overwhelming majority of MBA students have degrees in humanities, liberal arts, science or technical disciplines.1 Business schools are far more concerned with your performance in your undergraduate career, your experience since graduation and the qualities that you can bring to your program cohort.

Why Non-Business Majors Are in Demand

Clearly, MBA students who have diverse backgrounds are in demand, but why?

Most MBA programs are focused on providing experiential learning, using real-world examples to explain and explore important business principles. When most of the class comes from the same background, the diversity of perspectives suffers, affecting the overall classroom experience for everyone. On the other hand, when the class contains a variety of perspectives, students are exposed to new methods of approaching problems and scenarios and may consider previously unexplored alternatives.

Consider, for example, a student with a literature background. He or she is likely to be comfortable with multiple solutions or “right” answers, given their experiences with different interpretations of literature. This comfort with ambiguity and acceptance of new approaches is sought after in the business world and in business education.

The Road to Career Change

One trait that many MBA students have in common, regardless of their undergraduate major, is work experience. On average, MBA students have at least three years of work experience under their belts. While many students seek a graduate degree as a means to access more opportunities in their current field, there are many who want to change careers. An MBA, with its focus on professional development, is ideal for these students, as the degree provides skills applicable to any career. An MBA isn’t just for someone who strives to be a CEO: entrepreneurs, managers and leaders in any industry can benefit from a business program.

Getting Caught Up and Getting In

Despite the fact that MBA programs welcome non-business majors, you might still have some apprehension about applying and enrolling—especially if you’ve never taken business courses before. Remember that even those who have a business degree may have been out of school for some time, and need to brush up on skills that they haven’t used in years. In many cases, because business schools have prerequisites, applicants without a business background will have to take some foundation courses in math before beginning their programs.

Even if you do come from a quantitative background, if it’s been a while since you’ve cracked the books, it’s not a bad idea to take a refresher course anyway. Online review courses designed for prospective MBA students exist to fill in the any gaps you may feel you have, and business schools themselves typically have plenty of resources to help students achieve academically, regardless of where they’re coming from.

There’s no need to downplay the fact that you don’t have a business background when you apply either. Regardless of what you studied in college, getting in to an MBA program is about connecting the dots of your past experience to the focus of the MBA program and demonstrating why you want to earn the degree.

Admissions committees want to know where you have been and where you plan to go with your degree. Have a specific goal in mind and highlight how an MBA will combine with your background to get you there. Try to provide specific examples of your creative problem-solving skills or show how you plan to apply your existing knowledge and experience to business problems.

Deciding to pursue an online MBA is a big decision, and not one to be taken lightly. However, you shouldn’t let a lack of a business background keep you from pursuing your goals. Use your undergraduate experience to your advantage, and show the admissions committee why you are uniquely suited to earn an advanced degree.

To learn more about how the Online MBA from CSU Monterey Bay is ideal for non-business majors, contact one of our Admissions Advisors today.

  1. Retrieved on January 29, 2018, from beatthegmat.com/mba/2009/11/20/which-undergrad-major-is-most-preferred-by-the-top-mba-programs