Admissions officers at selective MBA programs continue to welcome applicants with non-business majors in their undergraduate years. In fact, majoring in business as an undergraduate may make it more competitive to gain entrance to B-School. According to Sara Neher, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, “We want 75 percent of our class to be non-business undergraduates. In some respects, there is a higher bar [for business majors] than for non-business majors.”.
So what are MBA programs looking for, if not business majors?
For one, social science majors. As the table below shows, humanities, social sciences and economics are viewed favorably by MBA admissions officers.Undergraduate Majors of Enrolled Students at Selected MBA Programs
|Columbia Business School Class of 2015||Harvard Business School Class of 2014||The Wharton School Class of 2015||NYU Stern School of Business Class of 2015|
|37% Social Science||41% Humanities & social science||44% Humanities, social sciences, economics||27% Business|
|29% Business||34% Engineering, natural sciences, tech||28% Business||22% STEM|
|17% Engineering||24% Business||25% STEM||19% Economics|
In fact, the admissions outlook for undergraduates in social science majors is improving, according to Stephan Chambers, director of MBA degrees at Said Business School at University of Oxford: “Social entrepreneurship has become a top priority at the most selective graduate business schools,” where many MBA applicants have worked at nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations. Undergraduate degrees in the social sciences are often a precursor to those types of careers.
Beyond the top-ranked business schools, however a different pattern emerges. While business is still not the top undergraduate major, 36 schools list engineering as one of the top three undergraduate majors represented in their student body. 23 list economics, and 14 list finance. According to,Chambers, engineers are very good at using data to find solutions. In an article in Businessweek, he states, “Everywhere you look, data is required more often to find solutions. The combination of an MBA and engineering is gaining traction.”
Neher suggests that business undergraduates take electives outside of business and “show some kind of broader worldview” in preparation for applying to MBA programs And indeed, regardless of your undergraduate major, it’s important to have a variety of experiences during college – from your academics and activities, to your internships and employment – to be best prepared for grad school, career, and beyond.
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