When's the best age to apply for an MBA?
As a higher education consultant/coach I have had inquiries from prospective students of all ages and they’re always curious to know when’s best to apply for the MBA. My response: age is just a number…but work experience is not (at least when it comes to applying for the MBA). For the majority of MBA programs, work experience is crucial as the programs would like to know besides what you’re trying to gain, what learnings can you contribute. On average, MBA programs are looking for about 4-5 years of work experience. While some prospective students may be able to apply successfully with fewer years, the key is to have meaningful work experience. If you’re able to show a lot of growth and initiative, programs may overlook the years of work experience. There are also a few MBA programs that provide an option for those finishing up their last year of undergrad to apply but they’re rare and few and highly competitive. On the flip side, those with more than 4-5 years of work experience should not be deterred. Unless you’re hitting close to the 10 year mark, most programs welcome applicants that have had meaningful work experience and are looking for a pivot in their career and more than
5 years of experience is fine! For those with more than 10 years experience, one can consider Executive MBA programs instead. But typically speaking, 4-5 years tends to be the key point most MBA candidates are looking for a change in their career anyways. I want to stress that ultimately age does not matter. The age range of students of most MBA programs can be quite large. While it may feel that the lifestyle of an MBA student skews younger due to the nature of “networking” opportunities, MBA programs will have resources, communities, and spaces for students of all relevant age ranges (early 20s - mid 30s)
So to summarize. For those of you at the typical bell curve of feeling you need a change in your career (4-5 years), it’s a good time to start applying for an MBA. For those with less, focus on a few more years of meaningful work, being mindful on how your experience and role will contribute to a MBA program. And finally for those with more, don’t be deterred. Unless you have hit the 10 year mark, you likely stand a good chance and can still find a community during your MBA that resonates with you.
For more info and guidance on if you’re ready to apply for an MBA, please reach out to me for a free 30 min. chat where we can further discuss your MBA application journey.