Spot the Difference
Choosing the right postgraduate program is a highly subjective process because everyone has different goals, ambitions, and circumstances. For example, in North America, many MBA programs accept graduates with less than three years of work experience (e.g. Harvard Business School’s MBA has no minimum work experience requirement). By contrast, many European business schools set a minimum career criteria of three to five year’s work experience for MBA candidates—meaning there’s a more significant gap in age between those pursuing an MBA and those pursuing a master’s.
Different Programs Attract Different Students
Applicant characteristics for the incoming 2011–2012 classes of graduate management education programs varied greatly among program types as reported by business school admissions professionals in 2011.
On average, MBA programs and specialized master’s programs tend to attract different types of prospective students. Most applicants to full-time MBA programs are between the ages of 26 and 30 and have three to six years of work experience. Individuals who applied to specialized master’s programs were overwhelmingly younger than applicants choosing to attend MBA programs. The majority of applicants to management (72%), accounting (75%), and finance (76%) master’s programs were 25 years old or younger and also had less work experience than MBA candidates. The average percentage of applicants with less than one year of work experience ranged from 56 percent of management program applicants to a high of 70 percent for accounting program applicants.
Below are examples of applicant profiles reported by admissions teams in 2011.