Work Experience Required For An Online MBA

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Online MBAs from UK universities require work experience. Applicants without enough career exposure or work experience at the right level are not eligible to apply. This guide will cover why business schools ask for work experience, what counts as qualifying experience, and how to present your professional experience in an MBA application.

The Importance of Professional Experience in MBA Admissions

MBAs are designed for students with career experience for two main reasons-

1. Much of an MBA’s learning is based on real-world business case studies. Students are expected to bring their experience and insights to the debates and discussions. Setting a minimum level of work experience for applicants ensures rich and engaging debate with insights from across industries and business functions.

2. The level of work experience the students have impacts the quality of the networking opportunities available for the class as a whole. Student benefit from the range of professional experiences of their peers.

The admissions process for an MBA is designed to filter out unsuitable applications and shape the cohort so that the discussions include a wide range of views and insights.

Understanding Work Experience Requirements for Online MBAs in UK Universities

When assessing work experience, the admissions team pays close attention to the quantity and quality of professional experience. Filtering applications on these two criteria helps ensure that the incoming cohort of MBA students bring a level of professional maturity and motivation and are at the right point in their working life to leverage the learning experience to boost their earnings or pivot their careers.

What Counts As Relevant Work Experience for UK Online MBA Programs?

Each Business school will have its own methodology for reviewing and qualifying work experience. Broadly speaking, MBA applicants should have any or a combination of Managerial, Professional or Technical experience. But what exactly does that mean?
If you are unsure about qualifying work experience, consider where your work experience fits in with the categories below.

MBA Managerial Experience Examples

Management skills acquired by any of the following, it does not need to just be about leading teams and departments.

+ Leadership Roles
+ Decision-Making Experience
+ Financial Management
+ People Management
+ Operations Management
+ Change Management

MBA Professional Experience Examples

Any profession that requires an undergraduate degree or a licence to practice is considered suitable for qualifying work experience. Below are some examples.

+ Architect
+ Accountant
+ Lawyer
+ Physician
+ Engineer
+ Dentist
+ Economist
+ Veterinarian
+ Pharmacist
+ Scientist
+ Optician

MBA Technical Experience Examples

These roles do not require a licence or qualification like a profession but are highly skilled and demanding careers.

+ Software Engineer
+ Web Developer
+ Data Scientist
+ Machine Learning Engineer
+ Cyber Security Engineer

How Many Years of Experience Do You Need for a UK Online MBA?

The length of work experience is more straightforward and clear-cut than assessing the quality of work experience. Business schools ask for a minimum of three years of qualifying work experience for a typically online MBA. The key here is qualifying; if you have five years of work experience since graduating, but four of them were in roles that were not at the right level, see above, then you would typically not be eligible to join an MBA degree.

If you are in this situation, it is best to gain a few more years of experience in a qualifying role and then apply for an MBA or take a business master’s degree that does not require professional experience.

MBA TypeMinimum Work Experience Required
On-campus MBA 3 Years
Online MBA 3 Years
Executive MBA 5 + Years

Tips for Presenting Your Work Experience Effectively in MBA Applications

Multiple documents need to be collated and completed in an MBA application. The way you present your work experience differs in each document, allowing you to reinforce and highlight your strengths.

+ CV– Bullet points, key stats and job titles.

+ Application Form– A few sentences, describing role and responsibilities

+ Personal Statement– A few paragraphs, career progression, main achievements and future goals.

When working on your application, try to clearly show the following:

Highlight Your Achievement- Use the CAR method, context, action, and result to showcase professional wins and achievements.

Reflection and Insight- Show how you have learnt and developed from your professional experiences.

Connect Your Experience to Your Future Goals- Linking your prior experience to your future goals gives the opportunity to highlight how the MBA can help you get there.


In addition, there is often an interview as part of the admissions process, which is an opportunity to show your character and motivations and strengthen the picture presented in the application documents.

Make Your Application Clear, Consistent and Highlight Your Career Progress

Ensure the information you present across your application documents is consistent and clear. Use the application to show how you grew and developed in each role as your career has progressed.

Remember, the application process is your opportunity to show that your professional experience has prepared you to benefit from the MBA learning experience. Make it clear what your career goals are and how the MBA will help you achieve them.

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