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Key takeaways:

Many business schools prefer candidates with at least 2 to 5 years of work experience, which is ideal for an MBA program.

Having professional experience in a huge corporate firm gives you a competitive edge.

When applying for an MBA program, highlight all your achievements, skills, and qualities.

An MBA degree looks for a professional experience which involves various leadership skills.

Every MBA aspirant might wonder if work experience helps in pursuing an MBA. The answer is yes. Having real-world experience provides you with better insights into business and management studies. Professional work experience provides candidates with a certain level of maturity and managerial ability, which helps candidates become experts in the field. 

Pursuing an MBA with prior work experience not only helps you plan your future better but also gives you an edge over others. 

So, what kind of work experience is required for an MBA? Let’s find out. 

How many years of work experience is right for you?

Pursuing an MBA degree with a professional work experience of at least one year will provide you with a more practical approach and give you the best output of the course. Therefore, if we look at the placement reports of top business schools in India, they indicate that an average work experience of 2-3 years is ideal. These b-schools also have candidates with up to 5 to 8 years of work experience. 

If you are looking forward to applying for an MBA program, 2 to 5 years of work experience is considered an ideal work experience in most cases.

Are two years of work experience good for an MBA?

While pursuing an MBA degree, there are a lot of perks to having professional work experience. With a minimum of two years of work experience, candidates can successfully apply for all the MBA programs in India and abroad, which will also help them land in a high-paying job after completing the course. Hence, it can be said that candidates having a professional work experience of at least two years are considered to have a decent profile for an MBA.

Can I have too much experience?

Many b-schools prefer candidates with work experience but not many years experience (i.e., more than eight years). This is because an MBA program is designed as a hands-on experiential learning program where candidates enrich the learning environment with their previous working experiences.

This course requires candidates to have a certain level of maturity, skills, and managerial ability, which comes from professional full-time work experience. So, having too much work experience may go wrong. These candidates are more likely to grow restless in their roles post their MBA. 

Also, students with too much work experience are most likely to face various disadvantages during the admission and placement processes. An executive MBA or a part-time MBA program is more likely to suit such candidates.

What kinds of experiences are ideal for an MBA?

Corporates and start-upsFamily business experienceInternship experiencePart-time experience

None of the top b-schools specifically mention the kind of experience that students or candidates must have. An MBA degree always welcomes students coming from diverse backgrounds along with their unique skills. 

No matter what kind of work experience you have, candidates need to possess leadership, problem-solving, and many other soft skills to get an edge during the MBA program. However, students with certain work experience may be preferred over others. 

Let us understand what kind of work experience is required for an MBA in greater detail –  

Corporates vs Start-ups

A huge corporate firm can give you instant recognition, and the latter will not have to think twice while shortlisting a candidate with such a kind of corporate job experience.  

However, if you can gain all the necessary skills while working with a start-up, it can act as a game changer during your MBA journey. But remember to educate the interviewers about your qualities and your skills acquired during the work experience. If you fail to do so, you might miss out on a few opportunities while succeeding in your career path.

Whether the candidate has experience working with a corporate firm or a start-up, all an MBA degree needs is a certain set of skills and the ability to effectively fulfill managerial responsibilities.

Family business experience

Indeed, a family business experience does not hold as much value or reputation as a corporate firm or a start-up. However, in some b-schools abroad, the family business experience is more important than an experience at a huge corporate firm.  

It also depends upon what kind of family business you have. If you have a rapidly growing and lucrative family business, having an experience in it will make you stand out. If not, you must focus more on brushing up all your skills and qualities.

Internship experience

Do internships count as work experience for an MBA? Generally, internship experience is not necessarily counted as professional work experience when applying for an MBA program. However, doing an internship may add some value to your CV. Some universities consider internships as work experience. 

If you are a fresher, doing an internship is the best way to highlight all your skills and qualities when undergoing the interview process. This may also help you to get a preference over the other fresher candidates during the selection procedure. 

However, the value of your internship experience may vary depending on the nature of your internship and the type of organization. You will need to prepare to fit the exact criteria to reach your desired goals. 

Part-time experience

Many students start working when in college. So, if you are a candidate with such part-time work experience, you might be wondering whether this kind of experience is considered for an MBA or not. Unfortunately, most b-schools do not count part-time experience for an MBA program. However, just like internships, part-time work experience may also be valuable to your CV.

At last, when it comes to pursuing an MBA degree, no kind of work experience is considered to be ideal. Whether a full-time corporate job, volunteering, or internship experience, an MBA degree looks for a work experience that portrays your most impressive qualities, skill sets, diversity, and uniqueness.

Can my experience be outside of work?

This is one of the most concerning questions among MBA aspirants. The answer here is simple. Regardless of the field or position, any full-time work experience after completing your bachelor’s degree is considered professional work experience for an MBA program. 

Generally, an MBA program looks for evidence of a certain set of desired skills, including effective communication, strategic thinking, creative problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, analytical thinking, and various interpersonal skills.  

Is work experience necessary for an MBA?

When discussing an MBA program, work experience is always considered a strong and essential factor. However, it is not necessarily important to have professional work experience for an MBA program. Many b-schools in India accept candidates without any kind of professional work experience. 

If your application has an exceptional CGPA and extracurricular activities, it may be enough to counterbalance the lack of work experience. Also, pursuing an MBA early may help you network expertly in the professional world while beginning your career journey. 


An MBA degree provides value addition to your career path and an understanding of various business practices. So, while pursuing an MBA degree, having 2 to 6 years of professional experience can help you to gain better future outcomes. If you have more than eight years of work experience, you can try opting for a part-time or an online MBA program like those designed by one of the top universities in India – the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) through Online Manipal. These MBA programs are well-suited for candidates with heavy work experience.

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