GMAT Work Experience Requirement

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    It is mostly perceived that work experience is important to pursue an MBA and only the candidates with prior work experience are qualified to apply for the GMAT exam. Also to mention, not only the work experience factor but the GMAT syllabus is quite difficult as well. However, the GMAT aspirants can take the test without having any prior work experience. In this cut-throat competition, the candidates must not ignore the opportunities that can help them to have a bright career ahead and there is no better way to get a prestigious position in management after achieving a good GMAT score in the MBA entrance exam. Earlier it was mandatory to have a minimum of 3-4 years of work experience before pursuing an MBA from the top-most B-Schools in India and abroad as well as mandated by the GMAT eligibility criterias. The reason for this was that the admissions committee believed that the candidates having work experience can understand the real-world challenges and use their skills in a more enhanced way. However, in the current dynamic scenario, the MBA courses are revamped so that they can cater to the growing requirement of youth managers who look to take up more managerial job challenges.

    It is mostly seen that aspirants of the MBA program have some kind of prior management experience which can help them to elevate their career further in the organization. The main reason why the admissions committee of different colleges and B-Schools are very particular about giving admission to the candidates with sufficient years of work experience as the MBA programs mainly focus on experiential learning or learning through practical case studies. The B-schools in the USA require an average of 3-7 years of work experience while the Canadian Universities need the work experience of at least 2-3 years and in some cases, it is up to 5 years as well.

    Below we are discussing some of the top B-schools across the world, the required GMAT score and work experience needed to get admission at each of these universities.

    Business SchoolAverage GMAT ScoreAverage Work Experience
    Stanford Graduate School of Business7334 Years
    California Business School7153-7 years
    Harvard Business School700-760Not mentioned
    MIT Sloan School of Management670-7604-9 years
    Wharton, University of Pennsylvania620-7905-6 years between graduation and joining the MBA
    London Business School7012-11 years
    HEC Paris Business School600Minimum 3 years
    University of Cambridge: Judge Business School6401-2 years
    Victoria University of Wellington500
    5 years
    University of Canterbury6005 years

    Though many of these schools need a wide range of experience, it is usually good to stay closer to average and adhere to the norms. If you are also planning to apply at a particular B-School then make sure that you have done more research and are prepared to make your own way.

    What is considered a good work experience for B-Schools?

    So far, we have discussed the top-most B-Schools and how much experience is needed. The GMAT aspirants must understand that all the experiences are not considered equal by B-Schools and preference is given to those candidates only that showcase relevant work experience only. We are discussing a few sub-areas to get a feel of what is better.

    Leadership experience

    The leadership ideally means having a formal leadership experience but in many cases, this might not be possible. For instance, an individual working as an investment -banking analyst might not get a chance to lead a team in 4-5 years. The candidates, however, must show leadership skills at the time of counseling. A management consultant leading a team of 3 might be able to create a better impression as compared to a manager who leads a team of 100 BPO staff for instance. The agenda behind looking for experience is to check how the individuals can make a powerful impact on the clients, organization, or society as a whole.


    Another important aspect which is tough to characterize, but still we will try to make it more understandable. Some of the technical skills might be irrelevant to an MBA application. For instance, in case you are a website developer then your skills might be different during and after the MBA. The main agenda of referring to the candidates’ skills at the time of admission is to understand how effectively they can transfer their skills in the MBA program and in the future as well.

    Personality Development

    This is an attribute that helps in understanding the personality of the candidates and how they can handle real-life challenges in a more optimistic way. Though the candidates can’t express their personality resume and therefore they are supposed to make the application/essays look more attractive and influential. This is where, the candidates with no formal leadership experience, need to make their resume look more impactful as compared to other candidates to get noticed and stand out of the race.

    Big company vs small company experience: Which is considered better in the GMAT exam?

    There is no straight away YES or NO for this question as it depends upon the overall work experience and the individual’s organizational role. A big global brand can surely help in getting instant recognition and the admission committee would find your resume look more attractive. But this doesn't mean that the aspirants who don’t experience working in the big firm don’t get a chance to pursue MBA from the top-most B-School. If you can bring a lot more at a smaller firm or even a startup, then also you will be considered and you must apply for an MBA from your desired college or university. But all the GMAT aspirants must remember that they need to showcase additional skills, and educate the committee about the experience which in turn will help you to enter in a B-School.

    Does family business experience count?

    Traditionally in a country like India, family businesses/entrepreneurship don’t get the sparkling reputation and the candidates with a family business work experience are not able to make a huge difference in their resume. Though in the eyes of international MBA programs, family business experience hold some position and in case they find the work experience relevant than you might get admission in the top-most B-Schools. The GMAT aspirants with a big family business experience get noticed easily and things become easier for them but this doesn’t mean that others won’t get a chance to study at the top-most B-Schools. Even if you have experience working in a small family business then also you can manage to get admission to the B-School, in case you can showcase your talent in the right way.

    In case you have worked harder on your profile, no matter how big or small your family business is, you must mention it in your application so that the committee can get positively influenced by your overall work experience. The candidates must mention all the detail about what all they have learned while working at the family business and the responsibilities which they have handled in the process.

    In case someone doesn’t have work Experience

    Most of the admissions committee at different B-Schools look for the main characteristics in candidates while they apply for MBA programs at their universities. The main characteristics that are considered include leadership skills, professional maturity, and interpersonal/communication skills. The candidates must showcase their qualities so that the interviewer can understand your competencies.

    Another question that many times arise in the mind of GMAT aspirants is whether their internship experience or part-time work experience will be considered or not while applying for an MBA program. This depends on the colleges or B-Schools you are applying to and if the committee accepts such experiences, then definitely your work experience will be counted. You must do adequate research regarding the same before you submit your applications and at the time of submitting your application, you must mention the roles and responsibilities and how it can impact your learning as well. Also in case, you have changed many jobs within a short period, then it might negatively impact your chances of getting admission. It will also exhibit a lack of commitment; however, in case you have a valid explanation of why you have had so many career changes then you might get considered for an MBA seat.

    How early MBA can help you in your career?

    Pursuing an early MBA from the top-most B-Schools will offer numerous benefits. Pursuing an early MBA will allow you to learn all the basics and detailed skills needed to enter the corporate world. An early MBA will help in repaying the loan back which you might have taken while financing your MBA studies. Generally, there is a high ROI as the master’s degree helps in getting a decent job immediately after completing an undergraduate degree. The attractive pay packages help in having good financial stability and offer better career opportunities in the future as compared to the salary you might get post completing an undergraduate degree.

    In case you are planning to get admission to a top-most MBA university but aren’t sure if your work experience is strong enough, then you must lay more focus on what you can do to make your application look stronger rather than wasting your energy into some other easier-to-fix components. We suggest that all those GMAT aspirants who are planning for an early MBA with or without any prior working experience can go for it. Both an early MBA and a late MBA will offer tons of benefits. So go ahead and give the GMAT exam once you are completely prepared for the same.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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