Are you considering business school? Whether you want to develop your business acumen with a Master in Management (MiM), or dive deep in a particular industry with a Specialized Masters, you’ll need to consider what work experience you’re expected to have.
There are plenty of business schools that require little or no work experience for a master’s degree. But enrolling in a business master’s with some work experience could help you make the most of your experience.
Here’s everything you need to know about work experience for a master’s at business school, and whether you need it.
What is required work experience for a master’s?
Work experience is often not a requirement to study a business master’s. Hanken Business School, for example, encourages bachelor’s graduates to apply for its masters degrees straight away, and there are no work experience requirements to apply.
Similarly, Luiss Business School accepts students into its masters programs from a range of different backgrounds, with varying levels of experience.
“Some of them have work or internship experience that they gained during or shortly after their bachelor’s degree, and some of them have no work experience at all,” says Professor Marco Mazzù, professor of International Marketing and recruitment leader at Luiss Business School.
For Luiss’s admission board, the most important factor is a candidate’s previous academic record, he adds.
However, gaining some work experience before a master’s can help you excel in your studies. Cynthia Law, graduate admissions manager at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Canada, believes that work experience in a relevant field can be valuable in your application and may enhance your profile.
Your previous work experience can help you tailor your application essay by sharing relevant professional examples and showing how the master’s degree will contribute to your career, Cynthia explains.
Still, there’s no official work experience requirement for John Molson’s research-based masters programs.
Specialized vs generalist programs
Work experience requirements can vary depending on the type of program you’re applying to.
MiM degrees are generalized programs offering an introduction to various aspects of a business. This means they have little expectation of experience before you apply.
For MiM programs, your GPA score, extracurricular activities, career goals, and overall academic performance will be valued in your application. Although work experience can help you gain that competitive edge, it’s by no means a requirement.
While specialized masters also value those parts of the application, some ask for work experience in particular fields or industries.
Masters in Finance (MIF) are often highly quantitative degrees that aim to help students launch careers in banking and finance. Their technical nature means some MIFs are designed for students with professional finance experience. The London Business School Master in Finance, for example, requires financial experience in order to successfully apply.
Business schools offer specialized degrees in a wide range of areas including business analytics, technology management, supply chain management, marketing, and finance.
To make your application stand out for one of these specialized masters, it’s more important that you have relevant experience in the specialization you wish to enter.
Applying with experience: master’s or MBA?
If you’re applying to business school with some experience under your belt, you may want to consider whether an MBA or master’s degree is your best option.
Typically, to study an MBA, you should have a few years of professional work experience. John Molson’s MBA program, for example, requires a minimum of two years before applying.
“For admissions into the John Molson MBA program, work experience is essential,” says Cynthia. “Employers who seek to hire MBAs also consider work experience important, as they are looking for candidates ready to take their careers to the next level and grow into management positions.”
The amount of work experience required for an MBA is usually dependent on the business school. Competitive admissions processes can also mean the cohort’s average years’ work experience is significantly higher than the official minimum requirement.
HEC Paris’ MBA program also requires a minimum of two years of work experience, but students in the cohort have an average of six years of professional experience.
“Our students are well-rounded, high-achieving and have shown leadership potential through career progression,” says Benoit Banchereau, executive director of the Communications, Marketing & Admissions department of HEC Paris’s MBA program.
“We want their professional experience to add value to their classmates.”
HEC Paris also considers the quality of a student’s work experience, and the overall level of diversity in professional backgrounds among the cohort. This ensures the class is made up of people from various industries and functions, who possess transferable skills, says Benoit.