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Am I Too Old to Get Into Business School?

Master AdmissionsUncategorized Am I Too Old to Get Into Business School?

Am I Too Old to Get Into Business School?


If you want to get into a full-time program in at a top business school, then the number of years of work experience WILL be a factor.

Age is one thing — but not the biggest driver.  Still, I get people all the time asking questions like the one I noticed in ClintEastwood_Sept10_1Wharton’s brilliant Student2Student Forum.

I will have 11+ years of work experience this September 2013. My question is, how few are people with more than 10+ years of experience in a Wharton MBA class? I am considering only regular MBA, and executive MBA for the moment is out of consideration for me.

I’m going defer to the noble and diplomatic Victor M. Lee, WG ’11, who has answered as a proxy on behalf of the admissions committee since, well, at least 2011. You’ll take a look at the part I put in bold. Students with over a decade of work experience

really have a lot of explaining to do as to “why now.”

If I had to make a rough estimate, I’d say somewhere around 5% of each class has 10+ years of full-time work experience prior to matriculation.

Personally, I think this may be the wrong way to think about this issue, though. If you are looking for a school that has more people with comparable years of experience for comfort/fit reasons, that is one thing. If you are considering it as a reflection of your likelihood of admission, then I would take issue.

The challenge with more experienced candidates is making sure that they can articulate well why they are now going back to pursue their MBA after some time in at least one career path (presumably). Will they be able to demonstrate that they can effectively recoup their investment both for themselves and for the school? If so, then an application may still be well in order.

Note that that 5% is still a very small number. I discourage students from trying to shoehorn their way into an MBA program that probably isn’t interested in you. Having said that, it can be done, but my betting is that for non-military types, it’s probably worth looking at part-time and executive programs, which, by the way, also offer the same degree: an MBA.