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MBA Programs that Don’t Require Work Experience

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, February 03, 2014
A huge debate is going on in the MBA world regarding work experience. An increasing number of programs are requiring more years of work experience, and the past standard of two years is being raised to three or even as high as five. Yet, another growing trend is for schools to accept or cater to students who have less than two years of experience or none at all, taking students right after completing their undergraduate degrees or while they’re still completing their upper-level coursework. For some students, the ‘not if but when’ aspect of earning their MBAs is a critical factor in choosing to go ahead and complete their degrees while their study skills are strong and they don’t have to put their career on hold for two years.

Probably the most famous of these programs is Harvard’s 2+2. While the student does not need to have previous work experience to be accepted, two years of work experienced are required in order to receive the degree. Most students in this program are accepted to hold their place at the school and then gain work experience before beginning classes. Stanford also has a similar program. There are also 3+2 programs where the student completes three years of undergraduate work and two years of graduate business studies, leaving school with an MBA degree.

However, there are a few top schools that do not require any previous work experience for their MBA programs. One of them is Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Saunders College of Business. They have both full-time and part-time MBA programs. Also, students can choose from over 20 different concentrations. Here, RIT’s reputation in sciences and engineering shines. Technology Management, Software Project Management, and Global Information Technology Management are just a few of the concentrations available. In addition, Saunders has an Accounting MBA as well as Master of Science programs in Finance, Management, and the truly unique Innovation Management.

There are pros and cons for choosing to pursue your graduate business studies directly out of your undergraduate program or waiting until you have some real world business experience. Going directly into a graduate business program can be beneficial if your undergraduate degree is not in business, if you want to start your family early or if you are concerned that transitioning back to school will be especially difficult. Also, not every company or career will support the decision to return to school, and you may not want to risk the possibility of needing to change companies or relocate. Requiring work experience will likely remain the standard, but it’s not the only option out there. Whatever your personals and career needs, you can find an MBA program that is the right match for you.      
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