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6 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Business Background to Study an MBA

6 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Business Background to Study an MBA main image

Sponsored by Deakin Business School

In recent years there’s been a considerable shift in expectations when it comes to who is considered a ‘traditional’ MBA candidate in today’s rapidly evolving business world.

If you’re considering pursuing an MBA but don’t have a business background – have no fear! We’ve taken a look at some of the reasons why not having a business degree won’t hinder your chances of MBA success.

MBAs are diversifying and boast some of the most diverse cohorts

Believe it or not, applying to business school without a business degree can actually make you stand out for all the right reasons. You won’t be the first person to do it, and you certainly won’t be the last.

In 2017, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) found that just over half of MBA candidates surveyed didn’t come from an undergraduate business background, which is good news if you’re thinking of getting an MBA and come from an industry such as engineering, medicine, humanities, law, or the charity sector (to give a few examples).

No matter your academic background, your undergraduate degree is likely to be far more relevant than you initially realize – it’ll have taught you valuable transferable skills that are essential for the MBA, such as critical-thinking, creative problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

You’ll also bring with you insights and experiences from your line of work that can be of great benefit in the classroom and allow you to offer alternative perspectives, ideas, and strategies that typical business candidates may not have considered. 

Deakin School of Business in Melbourne, Australia is no stranger to welcoming MBA candidates who have come from other career and industry pathways.

From professional cricket to the IT industry, Shawn Flegler is now the Female High Performance Manager at Cricket Australia, and he decided to study the Deakin MBA to help develop his business and management skills to better his success in leading the professionalization of women’s sport.

“Being involved in elite sport gives you some transferrable skills that are attractive to the business world, but I would be classed as a ‘technical specialist’ in that I have good knowledge of cricket. I wanted to broaden my knowledge so that I become a better manager and leader within Australian Cricket,” said Shawn.

“Time management, self-discipline, persistence, working in teams are all part of studying an MBA and I believe are all attributes that potential employers look for, and are things that I look for as a manager,” he added. 

Industry experience can be a big boost

If you’ve got experience of working in a managerial or leadership role – regardless of industry – think about how your ‘unconventional’ background has presented you with certain challenges and how you overcame them.

Did you participate in the launch of a new product or land a big contract for your employer? Was there a group project that was struggling to get off the ground, but you were able to lead the team and turn it into a winning proposal?

Success stories like these illustrate the skills and abilities necessary for the MBA.

Some MBAs offer prep courses before the semester starts

Many MBAs offer pre-MBA prep courses to ensure students are all on an even keel before classes commence. These are especially useful for those who have concerns about their mathematical and analytical skills and feel they would benefit from refresher sessions to get them where they need to be.

The MBA focuses on real-world situations

MBA programs are diversifying rapidly and are no longer the brick and mortar of business school education, meaning those who wish to study the MBA and come from engineering, medicine or another industry can access insights into business without needing to hold excessive expertise. 

The MBA provides corporate-level business management training and equips you with the tools to better your leadership, teamwork, management and self-discipline in the workplace – so it’s not all theoretical and research-based textbook material.

The MBA goes beyond business and finance

The MBA offers knowledge, skills and expertise that are valuable in any sector, industry and field of work. Of course, you’ll learn about core business functions and strategies, but you’ll also expand your knowledge in other areas such as ethics, marketing and leadership. 

The MBA isn’t limited in what it teaches, and depending on which one you pursue you’ll have access to a wide range of specializations and be able to tailor your degree to your career ambitions. Which leads us nicely onto our next reason…

If you want to shift your career focus, change career paths altogether, or start your own business, the MBA can help you do just that

The MBA itself is evolving into a versatile professional business degree and is a great way to harness your skills and talent to help your personal and professional growth.

Andrea Makris is another Deakin MBA graduate who worked for a not-for-profit organization in Victoria, and was the co-owner of a performing arts business, a freelance consultant, as well as a tour and project manager.

Andrea considered the MBA as a way to help her “learn how to lead better” as she felt her stretched beyond her abilities to manage and develop business.

“The MBA has launched my career into internationally-recognized events that contribute billions to the state economy and attract significant commercial sponsorship,” she said.

“I believe the core MBA subjects helped me to secure my two recent contracts, (with Destination NSW and with the Sydney Festival) and opened up a pathway to executive and leadership roles."

It’s not uncommon to change your career goals and pursue a field that’s different to your undergraduate or previous work experience, but it is important that you ask yourself whether the MBA will truly help you achieve your goals and put you in the best position possible.

If you’re serious about enhancing your knowledge of business, the MBA could well be the ideal move. But do keep in mind that the MBA isn’t always the golden ticket to success. Before you get ahead of yourself, be sure to find out more about the MBA programs you have in mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Vida Abu P, Akash k & 1 others saved this
Written by Stephanie Lukins
As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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