Work Experience – Alberta MBA Application Series

Why do we require candidates to have work experience?

The MBA degree is more than what you learn in the classroom from a professor.  It is an opportunity to bring your knowledge and experience into class and group discussions and learn from the experiences of your peers.  We look for candidates who will be active and engaged during the program, taking opportunities to share and build off of their prior experience and contribute meaningfully to class and group discussions.

We require applicants to have professional experience prior to entering the MBA program.  One of the biggest reasons we require this is to ensure that every student in our program has something to draw on and contribute in class.  Entering our program with professional experience also benefits the students themselves.  Whether it’s discussing HR practices in Managing People or looking at capital budget decisions in Accounting Information and Decision Making, having knowledge and experience to relate to the material adds to your learning.  You will get more out of the program when you are able to bring experience into the MBA.

Experience is also important when it comes to post-MBA career outcomes.  While employers do value the MBA degree and what MBA graduates are able to bring to their organization, they also value professional experience.  For someone who pursues an MBA degree immediately following an undergraduate degree, they run the risk of being seen as “overqualified” for traditional entry level position.  They also run the risk of being seen as too inexperienced to enter into more senior MBA-level positions – especially positions that would oversee or supervise others.

What type of experience do we look for?

As we value diversity in the classroom and look for individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and industries, there is no specific type of work experience we require.  For example, our 2016 PT class was made of individuals from 15+ different industries – such as construction, education, energy, healthcare, government, real estate, retail, and technology.  What we do look for is the type of experience that you do have relative to your education and the industry you are working in.  Essentially, we want to see the type of experience that you feel your education prepared you for.  That’s not to say that you need experience in engineering if you completed an engineering degree, but that you feel that you need to have a degree behind your name to enter into that position.

We don’t require individuals to have management or business experience.  However, we do want to see individuals who have shown progress in their career to date.  What we want to see would also depend on the specific program you are applying to.  Within our Executive MBA, virtually all candidates have management and leadership experience.  Within our Part-Time MBA, a majority of students do have some supervisory or management experience.  In both of these programs, the majority of students are looking to build off their experience and move into more senior management or leadership roles with their company (or within their industry).  Within our Full-Time MBA program, fewer students have formal management or supervisory experience.  However, these students also have slightly different goals, with students looking to use the MBA to move to a new career path, make a switch into a new industry, or enter into a supervisory or management role post-MBA.

How much experience do I need?

In general, we require a minimum of two-years of post-graduation work experience.  We realize every situation is different, so please feel free to discuss your background with us.  On average, candidates in all of our programs have more than two years of experience:

Full-Time MBA – Average of 5 years of experience
Part-Time MBA – Average of 8 years of experience
Executive MBA – Average of 15 years of experience

For more information on the Alberta MBA please click here.