Should I Get an MBA Right After College?

| Melissa Sartore

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Earning an MBA right after college allows recent graduates to get a head start on advanced business careers, but some programs are designed for individuals with professional work experience.

Students, employers, and working professionals regard an MBA as key to a successful business career. Regardless of age or experience level, MBA learners will access networking opportunities, improve their analytical and critical thinking skills, and gain advanced knowledge of finance, management, and marketing.

Recent graduates may not want to return to school after earning an undergraduate degree, but there are perks to moving straight into a graduate program. Many MBA programs, however, prefer applicants with work experience.

If you're asking yourself "Is an MBA right for me?", consider your personal and professional goals, program options, and possible degree outcomes.

Can I Get My MBA Right After College?

Entering an MBA program immediately after earning a bachelor's degree depends on several key factors. Some MBA programs accept students right out of college, but many require 2-3 years of professional experience. Even with an MBA, individuals may find job options limited since they lack the experience many employers look for when hiring.

Business professionals who enroll in an MBA program often have financial assistance from their employer. This may be partial or in full, and attests to the importance of work experience when getting the most out of an MBA curriculum.

Pros and Cons of Getting an MBA Right After College

There are some advantages to starting an MBA right after college. Students can get a head start on gaining advanced business knowledge as full-time learners.

However, entering an MBA program directly out of undergrad does have risks. For example, many programs and employers value professional experience over classroom learning. Check out more pros and cons below.

Pros

An MBA can result in higher paying positions. An MBA is an investment in your career. You can focus on the MBA instead of balancing work and school. An MBA may help you figure out where your career is going. You can network and build connections in the business world while earning an MBA.

Cons

Work experience is crucial to get the most out of an MBA. You have to pay for it, as opposed to potentially receiving employer assistance. You may not know what you want to focus on yet. Many top-tier MBAs require professional experience. Even with an MBA, a lack of experience may prevent you from getting a job.

Featured Online MBA Programs

Who Should Pursue an MBA Right After College?

Students should carefully weigh the pros and cons when making the decision to pursue an MBA after college. Make an informed decision by consulting with a mentor, seeking advice from business professionals, and checking with the admissions officials of specific programs. Individuals should also assess their personal and professional goals and consider whether or not the timing is right for them.

Because many of the most prestigious MBA programs require professional experience for admission, students also need to decide if earning a lower tier degree actually makes sense. The price, time commitment, and overall amount of work associated with an MBA may or may not be worth it if the overall experience fails to pay off in the end.

Students in an MBA program develop soft and hard skills. Hard skills require specific knowledge and skill sets that can be taught, while soft skills are fostered through exercises, activities, and real-world interactions.

Soft Skills

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Self-Awareness
  • Flexibility

Hard Skills

  • Bookkeeping
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Database Management
  • Logistics
  • Market Research

How Old Is Too Old for an MBA?

Individuals can enter an MBA program at any age as long as they meet the admission requirements. Working professionals late in their careers may find little value in going back to school, especially if advancement opportunities are limited.

An MBA requires a significant amount of time and work, things that may be prohibitive to adult learners with other professional and personal obligations. Business professionals in their 20s and 30s make up the majority of MBA students, although some programs admit individuals in their 40s. At a certain point, individuals gain more from individual classes, professional certification, and professional development opportunities than from an MBA program.

Common Questions About Getting an MBA After College

true Is Getting an MBA Worth It?

An MBA is worth it for students who want to advance within the business world. When deciding to get an MBA, individuals should assess their personal and professional needs and goals.

true What Is the Best Age To Earn an MBA?

There is no one right age to be an MBA student, but many are in their late 20s and 30s. This allows students to gain professional experience prior to earning a graduate business degree.

true How Do You Decide If an MBA Is Right for You?

Individuals should assess the cost, time commitment, and potential career benefits of getting an MBA.

Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.

Header Image Credit: PeopleImages | Getty Images

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