Can I Start Over And Get A Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

"I got a Master of Science a few years ago. I majored in chemistry. I was pursuing the major at that time for stupid reasons, namely that it was what my family expected me to do. Even though I earned the degree, though, I didn’t like the work, and I wasn’t good at it. It has gotten to the point where I don’t think I can stand being a chemist any longer. Thankfully chemists earn pretty good wages, so I have a fair bit of money put aside and I could feasibly return to school to get another degree. I think I am really interested in business administration. But since I already have a MS, it seems weird to go back and try to earn an MBA. Is that permissible? Will a school accept me and let me just start over from the beginning?"

asked by Denis from Minneapolis, MN

It is very common for people to switch careers in mid-track like this and realize that what they want to do now is not what they thought they wanted to do when they first started school years before. As such, universities do expect this kind of thing to happen on a regular basis. There is no reason why you cannot start over and aim for a Master in Business Administration even though you already have an MS in Chemistry.

Start out by researching the prerequisites for any programs you are interested in. Different schools will have different requirements. Since this is a master’s degree program you are looking into, you need to have a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite.

What is great about that is you already have one, which means you probably will not have to start over at the beginning. “But my degree is in chemistry,” you may be thinking. That does not necessarily come as a drawback. Many admissions boards for MBA programs like diversity among applicants.

You may also need some other specific prerequisite courses which you may not have under your belt already since you didn’t major in business before. There are usually around 2-10 of these for any given program. There are often “quick course” routes to accumulating these classes if you are missing them.

Admission boards know not everyone who applies has every course, and will often accept students hinging on prior completion of the classes in time.

There are a couple of other requirements you should know about. One is an admissions test, which is not always required, but which is very common. Usually this is the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Other schools may accept the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) test. Some schools also require real life work experience, which may pose a problem for you.

Since yours is a special case, though, you may be able to maneuver around it. You probably should look for programs that specifically do not demand relevant experience, since obviously that is one area where you cannot meet the requirement.

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