Most top univerities in the world prefer candidates with work experience for their MBA programmes.Why so?

  • Related question : Is it better to do an MBA with some work experience?
    – Nobody
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 5:53
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    Because than you have seen theory smashed on cold reality. Well, sort of - you will have seen real situations that you have to come up with an answer for, and will have realized that no problem is simple, and often there are intangible factors to consider.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


It is always better to do an MBA when you have some practical knowledge of how an organization works. If a fresh graduate joins an MBA course, she might understand the theoretical aspects, but might not be able to relate the knowledge to real life situations. A person who has worked for sometime will definitely be able to understand the workings of an organization better and will be able to connect theoretical concepts to the way an actual organization functions. Possibly, that is the reason why most top B-schools prefer candidates with work experience.


This Wall Street Journal article (a report on the opposite trend, actually) suggests two reasons why candidates with work experience may be preferred: they are able to contribute more to the class based on personal experience, and they have better employment prospects after graduation.

Chris Trimble, a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, says students' real-world perspectives are a big part of the learning process. "What I've seen is that students with work experience make better contributions to classroom discussions," he says.

As for younger M.B.A. graduates, Marci Armstrong, associate dean for graduate programs at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business, says that in today's economy, M.B.A. employers are looking more for experienced hires.

Five years ago, SMU started the MBA Direct program, for applicants with little or no work experience. In each of the past few years, Ms. Armstrong has admitted a handful of candidates directly out of college.

This year, not confident that they would land jobs at graduation, she admitted none.

Some schools echo this in their admissions material, for example UGA:

The Admissions Committee strongly prefers that candidates possess a minimum of two years' full-time work experience before entering the program for two main reasons. First, students are expected to relate real-world employment experiences to the concepts presented in the classroom. Second, MBA employers strongly prefer candidates with a minimum of two years of professional work experience.

And BYU:

Quality employment experience following a bachelor’s degree is critical to success in the BYU MBA Program. It not only enriches the classroom experience while in school, but it also provides our corporate recruiters a baseline from which to evaluate potential employees.

And Duke:

The learning that occurs in an MBA program is not limited to what is delivered by the faculty, but rather the discussion that the subject matter generates in the classroom. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, functions, and industries, and sharing their experiences is what promotes learning in the classroom.

Another factor is the existence of rankings that use salary as a criteria. From Inside Higher Ed:

One reason why business schools have been wary of taking on the early-career applicant in recent decades is the perceived importance of rankings. Admissions officials say if such tabulations take into account professional salary upon entry or graduation, it's hard to justify taking on younger students. Thus, schools go with the older student, seen largely as a safer bet.

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