Frequently Asked Questions


Is the MBA the only degree that prepares me for business?

No, it isn't. The MBA is a general management degree that typically takes two years to earn and requires several years of work experience prior to admission. If you are interested in particular areas of business, another business master's degree may be a better fit for you. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the breadth of options in business education before you apply. Business school requires a major commitment of time, energy, and money; you should be strategic in your exploration and choice. Consult the Business Degrees page for more information about alternate programs.

Must I concentrate in Economics?

Many students think that business programs expect students to concentrate in Economics or Finance. While business programs assume that you will have competence in quantitative reasoning and an understanding of economic principles, they don't expect you to have a particular major. The truth is that business schools care less about your concentration and more about the breadth and depth of your academic studies. 

Whatever your concentration, it's important to select courses that develop your critical thinking and communications skills as well as your understanding of different cultures. Course work in the humanities and social sciences will help you prepare for the GMAT or GRE. They can also provide a solid foundation for your course work in business school. Your academic advisors can help you identify courses that you will find engaging. 

Certain business programs, such as Master's Programs in Finance, are particularly mathematics-focused and expect significant course work in quantitative reasoning. If you expect to pursue a graduate program in accounting or finance, it's not a bad idea to concentrate in Economics, Applied Mathematics, Engineering and other concentrations that will develop your abilities in this area.

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What extracurricular activities will enhance my business school application?

MBA programs generally expect significant work experience. You do not have to wait until graduation to develop a portfolio of relevant activities. Internships in any business field (banking, finance, consulting, etc.), academic research, and leadership experience will all help you clarify your career goals and strengthen your resume.

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Should I wait a year or two after graduation before applying to business school?

In general, yes. Most MBA programs expect several years of work experience, with the most competitive programs having greater expectation for length and depth of experience. Some special master degrees are designed for recent graduates with little or no job experience. Consult the Business Degrees page for more information. 

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How do I decide where to apply?

First, clarify what type of programs would best help you reach your career objectives. Although the bulk of business programs offer the MBA degree, this does not mean that you should automatically apply to such programs.  A Master's in Finance or Supply Chain Management may be a better fit. Once you have determined the type of program that fits your goals best, compare programs based on your specific interests. Pay particular attention to the types of employment your credentials may lead to and evaluate programs on their merits (the structure of the curriculum, hands-on experience, industries that the program is geared to, extent of alumni network, etc.)

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Should I take the GMAT or the GRE and when?

Although some business programs accept the GRE, the GMAT remains the standard for the great majority of MBA programs. Check each program in which you are interested to determine which exam is required or acceptable. Whether you take the GMAT or the GRE, you should plan to take the exam only once, when you are best prepared to do so. If you do not score as well as you think you could have, identify the aspects of your preparation that you can improve, give yourself enough time to strengthen those areas, and only then retake the exam. You should take the exam prior to applying for admission to business schools. 

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Will a joint degree enhance my job prospects?

Potentially, but not necessarily. Some business schools allow their students to take courses in other departments as part of their curriculum. Such coursework can enrich your understanding of a particular area in which you plan to practice. Research each business program you are considering to determine your options. 

If your primary post-baccalaureate studies are in an area other than business (e.g., M.D., D.O., J.D., or Ph.D.), you might be able to complete a business degree along with your primary degree in a shortened period of time. The J.D./MBA is the most common program of this type. Apply to a joint program only after carefully evaluating the value added and the opportunity costs of such a course of study. 

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