How to Get an MBA through GMAT without Work Experience
Last updated on May 24th, 2019
We’ve been getting the same question from an increasing number of students: “Can I get an MBA through GMAT without work experience?”
The short answer is this: of course, you can!
However, that’s only the short answer. There’s a lot that goes into getting an MBA, it isn’t as simple as filling out a form and just signing up.
To get into an MBA program without work experience is not an easy task by any measure. MBA is a postgraduate program that is usually designed for people with a couple of years of full-time work experience. The idea is to use the students’ experience of the business world to help them understand concepts and learn skills that will help them get ahead.
So, you can probably see why a lack of work experience can be a problem here.
However, the top B-Schools around the world are constantly looking to attract the crème de la crème into their MBA programs. B-Schools know that your odds of scoring well on the GMAT are pretty high while you’re still within the system of studying and appearing for exams. The going only gets tougher once you start working full-time.
That is why some of them provide you with an option to secure your seat in advance and only start your studies after getting some work experience.
Check out what our founder and CEO, Arun Jagannathan, has to say about getting an MBA without work experience:
In this article, we will discuss the following questions:
- Can I get an MBA without work experience?
- What is Deferred Admission?
- Which top B-Schools offer MBA without work experience?
Hopefully, our answers will help you figure out what you need to do from this point on.
1. Can I get an MBA without work experience?
You already have the short answer to this deceptively simple question. Here’s the long version.
Whether you can get into your dream MBA program without work experience or not will depend on many factors.
One of these factors is whether or not your dream school offers an early admission option. Some of the world’s leading B-Schools including Harvard and Yale are beginning to enter the early admission market to scout and pick up the best talent there is.
The trend is to start offering guaranteed seats to those who show exceptional talent while they’re still in college.
But here’s the catch:
Even though you can secure admissions for MBA without work experience, you will still only start studying for your degree after you go out and get some experience working full-time.
Now, B-Schools around the world are aware of two things, most of all.
The first thing B-Schools know is that you have a good chance of getting a great GMAT score while you’re still within the education system. Once you get into full-time work, it becomes tougher and tougher still to get back into the routine of preparing for an exam and scoring well. Taking you in with exemplary GMAT scores serves the B-School well, shoring up its average GMAT score.
So, obviously, B-Schools have a vested interest in giving you a chance to score your best, which is when you’re in college.
Secondly, B-Schools also know that rushing you into the MBA classroom without letting you get some exposure to ‘real-world’ business environments will take away from your learning experience.
The solution to providing for both these things is a program every school runs under a different name. That’s what we discuss in the next section.
2. What is Deferred Admission?
To put it simply, this is one of the many programs that allow you to get an MBA without work experience.
Offering early or deferred admissions is fast catching on as a trend among the world’s leading B-Schools. A number of leading schools offer programs allowing college students to get admitted into MBA without work experience. Each school has its own program structure, expectations, and admission criteria for its version of this program. Every school also has its own name for the program.
What the program essentially comes down to in most cases is this:
You take your GMAT in the last or second-last undergrad year and apply immediately via designated programs. Those who are selected are offered admission into the MBA batch that will commence a couple of years later.
If you accept the admission offer, you’re assigned a mentor. The mentor then guides you to improve your MBA profile.
Wondering what’s the point of improving your profile after getting admitted?
Here’s how it will help you:
Building your MBA profile is not only meant to impress B-Schools. It is also meant to help you prepare yourself mentally for the rigors of being in a B-School.
Don’t underestimate how rigorous life at a B-School can get. You’re expected to be a part of a number of activities, manage your projects and assignments, and still keep up with your studies simultaneously.
This is what your mentor prepares you to do so that it helps you make the best of your MBA experience.
To sum it up, deferred admission is when a B-School guarantees you a seat on its MBA program while allowing you a couple of years to finish your graduation and get some work experience first.
Now that you know what you can expect from these kinds of programs, let’s delve into discussing the options at your disposal as far as MBA without work experience is concerned.
3. Which top B-Schools offer MBA without work experience?
There are many leading B-Schools in the world that offer you the option to get admitted into MBA without work experience. Here, we’ll discuss programs from three of the most sought-after schools among our students.
- Harvard 2+2 – Harvard Business School
- Yale Silver Scholars – Yale School of Management
- Young Leaders Program & Early Entry Option – Indian School of Business
Easily the most popular deferred admission program by a wide margin is the HBS 2+2 program.
The ‘2+2’ stands for two years of full-time work experience followed by two years as a part of the HBS MBA program.
To be eligible for admission via this program, you must not have any full-time work experience. You can apply if you’re in the last year of your undergraduate or postgraduate degree, as long as you have no full-time work experience.
Students of STEM and humanities backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply for the HBS 2+2 program.
However, students from all backgrounds are welcome to apply.
The application process for this program is the same as that of the HBS MBA program. The differences are that it has less than half the application fee and only one deadline as opposed to the multiple rounds that MBA applicants get.
The Silver Scholars program at Yale was started as early as 2001. It is a three-year MBA program rather than the average two-year MBA that Yale offers.
Just like it is with Harvard’s 2+2, you will only be eligible for the Yale Silver Scholars program if you are a student in the final year of your under- or post-graduate program. Having no previous work experience is also a prerequisite for admission under the Silver Scholars program.
The first year of this program involves classroom studies, the second is spent completing a year-long, full-time internship, and in the third year, you return to the classroom to complete the program with electives of your choice.
Applications for the Silver Scholars program are accepted through the MBA application process itself.
However, we strongly recommend that you keep an eye out for special instructions to Silver Scholar applicants on how to navigate through the application process. If you aren’t careful, your eligibility could be compromised due to simple technical errors.
While the YLP is the Indian School of Business’ deferred admission program that’s inspired by Harvard’s 2+2, the EEO is a rather unique proposition from ISB.
The YLP works along the lines of the 2+2 and Silver Scholars programs, except for a few differences. One of these differences is that YLP has a separate application process from the process for MBA applications, with very specific and pointed YLP application essay questions.
On the other hand, the EEO is a program meant for people with less than 24 months of work experience. As opposed to deferred admissions programs designed for students with no work experience, EEO is designed specifically for people who have experience but not enough for an MBA.
In effect, the ISB EEO lets you defer your admission till you can complete at least 24 months of full-time work experience.
At the end of the YLP, you join ISB’s flagship Postgraduate Program (PGP), whereas with EEO, accepting admission signs you up directly for the PGP.
Having spoken about the most prominent programs from B-Schools allowing you to take admission into MBA without work experience, we must mention that there’s an important bifurcation when it comes to selecting B-Schools for you.
It all comes down to figuring out whether you want to look at B-Schools within India or consider B-Schools abroad.
In either case, it’ll probably help you to know that many Indian B-Schools accept GMAT scores. And if you’re considering studying abroad, you have yet another option in the form of the GRE. Consider the pros and cons of GMAT vs. GRE before you decide which test to take.
Our final piece of advice to you in this blog is that you should try to keep in mind that an MBA is a huge decision, and money is not the only thing you’ll need to invest in it. An MBA will impact the entire future trajectory of your life. So, make sure that you consider all your options carefully before choosing to get your MBA without work experience.