“When should I go to Business School?”

Timing is everything and this is true as well when you think about when the optimal time to go to business school. Most people go after having 2-8 years of experience.

If you work in consulting, anytime between 3-5 years is optimal. If you work in corporate, it really depends on your experience and how well you can build a good case for your readiness for school. The average years of experience for top schools are around 5 years for all students (3-4 years for consulting or banking folks and 6-7 years for corporate folks).

I don’t think 2 years of experience anywhere is enough for anyone to truly get the most out of business school. Many people go because some consulting firms expects you to apply. Even if you pass the application process because you work for a hot shot firm and you built a good story for your apps, you may not really know why you are going to school and what you want to learn. Business school presents vast opportunities to network, experience, and explore new areas. If you are not sure why you are going even if you seem sure on your application, then I would advise to wait a year or two.

There is no rush. A sense of purpose and a level of maturity really help you focus on getting the most out of school.

There is however, such a thing as waiting too long. Once you make manager in consulting, business school is a waste of time and money unless you are burnt out and your firm is paying for your school. Then by all means, enjoy. Once you have more than 10 years of experience anywhere, consider executive MBA instead or weigh seriously the time/cost of stopping your career for an MBA. The only good reason to do that is for a change in career.

At the end of the day, it depends on your specific situation. These are just some general guidelines. If you want me to comment on when you should go, post me a comment and I will respond.

– Lei

3 thoughts on ““When should I go to Business School?”

  1. J

    I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics. I’ve finally found what I’m passionate about…strategic planning. I have 6 years of work experience but they aren’t relevant. At the moment, I’m enrolled in the Chartered Financial Analyst program to help gain relevant experience. I know that I’m going to use an MBA as a tool to help change careers. Question is…do I apply to MBA schools now? Hope to get some relevant experience then apply in a couple years?

    Thanks in advance for your time and guidance.

  2. Lei Han Post author

    If you have over 10 years of experience, sometimes the MBA school can advise you to apply for their executive program instead. Your situation is indeed unique as you are just getting your bachelors now. In which case, it may still make sense to apply to an MBA. You can always call the school you want to apply to and find out what they say.

    As for your other question about whether you can get the value out of MBA, no one can answer that for you. You have to decide for yourself. Ask yourself, 1) Why do you want to get an MBA? 2) do you need an MBA to get ahead in your career or start a business? Can you achieve it some other way? An alternative could be work for a start up and learn that way how to run a business. 3) an MBA can cost up to $180K for 2 years + 2 years of not making any money. Is it a good financial investment for you?

    Good luck with your decision.


  3. Khanyapa

    I read your article titled “When should I go to Business School?” and I didn’t quite expect what you said about the individual with an experience over 10 years. Indeed, I am one of those that waited too long and I am paying for it myself.

    I went through all professional stages from a computer programmer, Systems Analyst, Business Analyst to Vice President in a Fortune 500 firm without a Bachelors Degree. I became an enterpreneur for two years and that’s when I found out how woefully unprepared I was building a business outside cooperate setting. I closed the business and tried to get a job, but could find any for two years. During this time I registered for a Bachelors to improve my comaptitive strength. I am graduating in about 8 weeks with a GPA of 4.0 and I want to go for an MBA immediately precicely to improve my competitive advantage and prepare myself for the next business venture.

    My case is unusual, I realize but would you still think I will not get value out of it?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *