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Can you study for an MBA without a degree?

A female student attending a graduation ceremony

An MBA is a challenging yet extremely rewarding postgraduate programme. However, many people still believe that an MBA is only open to those who already hold a degree. This isn’t the case though! Learn more…


How it works

Although entry requirements vary from institution to institution, many universities state that they require MBA students to hold a Bachelors degree.

Ideally, MBA programme leaders are looking for candidates who have an academic background as well as practical business experience. You are usually required to have an Upper Second Class Bachelors degree and a minimum of three years’ managerial experience (the latter is what differentiates the MBA from other business qualifications). The purpose is to bring together business professionals so they can learn in a holistic way, sharing their ideas and experiences.

However, under certain circumstances, universities will also admit candidates who don’t hold an undergraduate degree. As personal experience is a defining factor of the MBA, many institutions will consider candidates who don’t have an undergraduate degree but do have significant business experience. This is often called an ‘open entry’ or ‘work experience’ route. The specific requirements for this route, again, will vary depending on the institution but universities often request five years’ senior or managerial work experience.


How to apply

If you are interested in studying an MBA but have never been to university before you should seek advice from the institution you’re interested in studying with. Each business school has a different set of admissions criteria and these should be published on the university’s website. Don’t be deterred if you don’t meet the entry requirements for one university – shop around and speak to a few institutions. Entry requirements can vary dramatically as business schools give different weight to different criteria (e.g. work experience vs education).

MBA applications are made directly to the university of your choice. You should speak to the university before making an application as its Admissions Team will be able to tell you if you have the required level of experience. You will need to provide evidence of your work experience and you could be asked to supply references or undertake an interview or entry test.


Consider online learning

The flexibility offered by online, part-time learning appeals to working professionals and the MBA is one of the most popular courses to study online. Online providers have a greater focus on work experience and are often more willing to consider candidates that don’t have previous academic qualifications.

Our online MBA programme accepts candidates that don’t have an undergraduate degree as long as students can demonstrate at least five years’ relevant managerial experience. We value the practical knowledge and skills that candidates have acquired in the workplace. Our online MBA students come from all over world, from different backgrounds and industries and this creates a rich learning and networking environment.

Contact our Admissions Advisers for more information.


How will you be supported?

Undertaking an MBA is a big commitment and if you haven’t studied for a long time you may need extra support with academic skills such as report writing, referencing and academic research. When you are looking at different MBA programmes you should enquire how the university supports mature students or those who haven’t come from an academic background.

Here at University of Essex Online, we have an in-house team of Student Support Advisers who can help you with any issues you experience; all students have a personal Student Adviser who is their first point of contact and mentor.


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