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Is an MBA Right for Someone Without a Business Degree?

You don’t have to have an undergraduate degree in business to pursue graduate school in the field. Almost all majors are acceptable preparation because an MBA is considered a professional degree, meaning that it is designed to equip individuals for higher-level positions by focusing on the practical side of business management.

MBA programs take an interdisciplinary approach to education, combining various types of business courses to help students develop advanced skills required in management positions. These degree programs are designed for professionals who already have a few years of work experience and want to advance their careers. MBA programs provide students with an educational tool set that is highly applicable in just about any career they may consider.

The Development of Skills

Although students in MBA programs receive a foundational business education, much of the course work focuses on the development of essential skills and abilities. Why is this? Because when communication, leadership and organizational abilities are combined with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, the result is a qualified professional who is ready to take on the responsibilities of almost any position. Even though the intellectual knowledge gained in an academic degree program is important, when it comes to navigating through the world of business, it’s how you apply that learning that counts. Perhaps this is one reason why MBA programs are open to individuals of all educational backgrounds.

Multiple Paths to an MBA

When it comes to applying for an MBA program, there is no single path that determines acceptance, and each school has different ideas about appropriate academic preparation. Minimum qualifications for students applying to MBA programs can vary, but a bachelor’s degree is always a requirement for acceptance. Business schools take many things into consideration when it comes to who qualifies for enrollment into their MBA programs.

There are schools that favor applicants who majored in a technical field such as science or engineering, while others may prefer a student with a liberal arts major, such as English, philosophy or a foreign language. Still others may look for applicants who had a career-oriented major such as consumer merchandising, journalism or advertising. Many programs prefer applicants who have already begun careers and have some professional work experience. Still, given the versatility of an MBA program, it may not matter at all what your major was in college as long as you received a broad, well-rounded education in which you developed quantitative and analytical skills. Some schools may not consider students’ previous education so much as their GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores. This standardized examination is used to measure aptitude and predict applicants’ potential for success in a management education program.

Catching Up to Business Majors

Applicants with an undergraduate degree in a business-related field are more likely to have completed the necessary course prerequisites than non-business majors, sparing them from having to take additional classes before they can begin an MBA program. Such courses may include mathematics, statistics, economics, finance, accounting, marketing and management. Prerequisite requirements ensure that students are adequately prepared for and possess the basic business skills necessary to succeed in an MBA program.

Diversity in MBA Education

The MBA is often referred to as one of the most versatile degrees because it can be applied to many fields and pursued by people with various backgrounds. Diversity is a key characteristic of MBA student populations. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that MBA students in the United States were the most diverse of all those in graduate programs. MBA students come from all walks of life, professional experiences and educational backgrounds. They choose to obtain an MBA for a variety of reasons as well.

First, an MBA program can provide people with essential leadership, organizational and management skills relevant to all professions. It can make them better managers, directors, executives and business owners, as well as give them that extra credential needed to be promoted to lucrative positions. According to College Board’s Education Pays 2010, professional degree holders such as MBAs had median annual earnings of $100,000 compared with $67,300 for those with a master’s and $55,700 for those with a bachelor’s.

No matter what your background, you can put it to good use in an MBA program. The world of business is full of industries, fields, products and services that need professional experts. The varied backgrounds of MBA degree holders are beneficial as each person offers something different regarding ideas, plans, strategies and ventures. So an MBA might be right for you even if you don’t have an undergraduate business degree.