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Undergraduate Degrees and MBA Admission Rates

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/31/2010

Undergraduate degree and MBA admissions rates: which majors are best? This article goes into the importance of undergraduate major, GPA, and other aspects for admission to MBA programs.

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    College students who go on to get MBA's (Master of Business Administration) come from many different backgrounds, not just business. In fact, an MBA can be useful in many different professions, from accounting to engineering. For this reason, many business schools accept students from a broad cross-section of majors. Indeed, schools typically try to develop a diverse class. With that in mind, some majors do have an advantage in MBA admissions. The MBA admissions rates in regards to undergraduate degree major can vary. To learn about undergraduate programs that best prepare for MBA admission, as well as other considerations, read on below.

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    Best Undergrad Major for MBA's

    As mentioned above, there is no required undergrad major for going on to get an MBA. Students from just about any background can and do go back to school for an MBA, usually after several years of work experience. Whether your major is in English, Mechanical Engineering, or Economics, you will still be able to go for your MBA.

    Many students assume that they will have an edge if they study Business or Economics as undergrads. Business majors, however, don't make up the majority of admitted MBA students. To use one top school as an example, at Harvard Business School the statistics are as follows: 40% majored in Humanities or a Social Science, 33% in Engineering and Natural Sciences, 26% in Business Administration, and 2% Other.

    Furthermore, only 19% of students in Business Week's top 10 MBA programs studied business. According to Business Week, a non-business major is often viewed as an advantage when applying to top MBA programs. The take home message is that you should study what interests you undergrad. If the student's ultimate goal isn't in finance or banking, it isn't necessary to study economics or business.

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    GPA and Other Considerations

    When making admissions decisions, MBA programs focus on several different areas. Undergraduate GPA is very important, as is work experience, GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, interview, and quality of undergraduate institution. The importance of these areas varies from school to school; however, for top MBA programs, all are important. Top ten programs typically prefer students from elite colleges and universities. It is difficult to specify a GPA required to get into top programs, because GPA varies wildly from school to school and major to major. However, the median GPA of admits to some top schools is available. At Yale, for instance, the average GPA for MBA admits is 3.52, with 80% falling between 3.12 and 3.95.

    GMAT scores are also important, though few schools publish a minimum required score. The median GMAT score at Wharton School is 720; at Yale, 722. There is always a range of scores accepted, though, so don't despair if your score falls below the average. High GPA, excellent letters of recommendation, or strong work experience can make up for mediocre test scores.

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    Top MBA Programs

    Where to go to get an MBA? The answer will depend on your goals. If you just want to go part-time, many schools have programs for professionals who get an MBA while continuing to work.

    The schools generally accepted as being in the top 10 MBA programs are Harvard Business School, Stanford, Wharton (at University of Pennsylvania), Kellog (Northwestern, Columbia, Fuqua (at Duke), Darden (at Virginia), Sloan (at MIT), University of Chicago, and University of Michigan.

    Of course, there are many other excellent MBA programs, and students shouldn't disregard programs based solely on rankings. For highly competitive positions such as those in finance, the reputation of the MBA program is often very important, however.