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How to Earn an MBA Without Taking the GMAT
It’s probably an understatement to say that the business world is an everchanging environment. It seems the only way to advance in a job is to work hard, do quality work, stay abreast of changes in your field, and hope your boss not only gives you good reviews, but helps you develop in your role. This track can mean a long road to a better job with an increased salary.
That is pretty much the course all employees have to follow whether they have an advanced degree or not. While it may be true that an education may put you ahead of those without degrees, there’s no guarantee. However, a master’s degree, or even a more specific type of degree like an MBA, can definitely help you in other ways as you climb the corporate ladder.
So, maybe you are seriously considering working toward an MBA, but the thought of the cost and time involved, not to mention the dreaded task of taking the GMAT, seems overwhelming. The good news is that there are ways to get an MBA that are less costly, less time consuming, and might even allow you to avoid the GMAT.
Considerations Before Pursuing an MBA
There’s no doubt that an MBA is highly sought degree by people in the business world. Many Fortune 500 executives have the degree, and it can be a way to throw open the door to a job at well-known companies. However, is it truly right for you?
Before even considering the path, expense, and time on the road to the degree, you should ask yourself the reason why you need or want it. Do you want it to improve your career prospects? Do you want to boost your salary? Or do you have higher aspirations? These are all logical questions you should ask yourself before going through the process of getting an MBA.
Types of MBA Programs and Their Requirements
An MBA is short for “Master of Business Administration.” Most MBA programs last two years, but there are accelerated full-time MBA programs that can just take a year to complete. But keep in mind this would require that a student takes-on a heavier course load. Part-time Executive MBAs might take lesser time to complete. These type programs are especially attractive to those students who want to pursue an MBA while also working full-time.
The application process for an MBA program can vary between schools. But, in most cases, the requirements for admittance to a program are pretty similar, which are as follows:
- Standardized Test Scores – This is usually a score from the GMAT exam, but more schools are also accepting the GRE.
- Academic transcripts
- Letters of recommendation.
Some schools may also require in-person interviews and/or a video essay. Students who wish to enter an MBA program should have extensive work experience, although there are programs for recent college graduates.
MBA admission officials, however, want to see a potential student’s progression through his career and that he has experienced increasing levels of responsibility. They also look for success stories. They want to see how a candidate contributes to his current job, his experiences with past employers, and even the responsibilities he took-on (if any) while in college and in his local community.
Another point that a lot of potential MBA students might not know is this: admissions officers tend to put more weight on the elements mentioned above versus an outstanding score on the GMAT; although if you were to have a good score, it certainly would help you in your choice of MBA programs and the schools that offer them.
MBA Program Tuition and Typical Courses
One of the primary concerns for potential MBA students are the costs associated with getting the degree. The truth is that tuition costs vary by school as far as private and public colleges, but at their lowest they can be $60,000 and up while tuition at top name business schools can be $100,000 or more. At some smaller business schools, an MBA degree might be a little over $40,000.
Students who choose to pursue an MBA, however, will come away with skills to handle various business challenges, so the money spent on the degree may be worth it. Students take courses in accounting, finance, organizational behavior, economics, management, and business ethics.
By the end of their selected programs, students will be prepared to be business executives that can develop smart solutions to address business problems. Students also learn how to inspire, motivate, and command respect. And as part of the curriculum, students work on projects in real-world situations for actual companies.
Why the GMAT is Important
Although colleges and universities need students to populate their graduate degree programs, they won’t take just any applicant. The admissions officers want to know potential students can handle the rigors of pursuing an advanced degree. One of the main ways they can assess that is through standardized testing, although a lot of schools now put less emphasis on a student’s test score and instead focus on a student’s resume, essay, and professional work experience.
There are four main tests that potential graduate students might have to take, which is determined by the type of graduate program someone wishes to enter. Chances are that if you want to attend business school for an MBA, you will need to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), although there are some schools that will now accept GRE (Graduate Record Exam) test scores. That said, the reason institutions use scores from standardized tests like the GMAT or GRE is to get a picture of a potential graduate student’s ability to use critical thinking and reasoning skills.
The GMAT costs $250 and is 3 ½ hours long. It has been used for 60 years, and nine out of ten graduate enrollments occur based on the test. 200,000 potential graduate students take the test each year, and 7,000 MBA programs use the test to determine if a student is qualified for graduate level work. The GMAT is offered around the world in 214 countries and is paper-based with no electronic or online version, so test takers will need to find a testing center.
MBA Without Taking the GMAT
While there are many potential graduate students who have no problem taking a standardized test like the GMAT and who are confident they will score well, other people, however, have a complete aversion to these type of testing situations, even though they still want to pursue an MBA. For them, there are more than a few options available.
Most standardized test takers suffer from some form of stress or anxiety. For a select group, though, they may have certain diagnosed conditions that would prevent them from taking a test such as the GMAT, and, consequently, might be able to receive an exemption. But there are other ways people who wish to obtain an MBA can avoid the GMAT.
- GRE – Many graduate schools are accepting the GRE, which also gives a student more freedom to pursue a graduate degree in another area.
- Prior academic record – Undergraduate GPA, internships, and other achievements may be used in lieu of a GMAT test score.
- Study abroad – Foreign countries have their own means of assessing a student’s ability, but it comes down to accreditation, so students should make sure schools and employers see their degree from overseas as valid.
- Executive Assessment – is an exam structured around elements contained in the GMAT but is only 90 minutes versus three hours. Usually, students who are pursuing an Executive MBA are allowed to take this abbreviated version of the GMAT.
- Professional work experience – admissions officers prefer candidates with two to five years of experience.
But overall, many admission officers have concluded that standardized tests aren’t the best way to measure someone’s ability to succeed at the graduate level. That is why they look more closely at a person’s resume, achievements, essay, and professional career experience and emphasize that more than GMAT or GRE test scores.
Careers and Salaries for MBA Graduates
As of 2013, the median income for people 25 and older with an advanced degree was $68,000. For those with a bachelor’s degree, the median salary was $56,000, so a nice $12,000 bump. However, it’s a good point to note that some entry level jobs require candidates to have a master’s degree to even be considered.
In some jobs, people who had an advanced degree earned less than those with a bachelor’s degree, but that may have to do with people with more on the job experience in a specific field versus someone fresh from a graduate degree program with little to no work experience. But having an advanced degree like an MBA is sure to lead someone to job advancement and higher pay sooner than someone without one.
Master’s degree recipients tend to work in high-level jobs, such as in business, finance, sales, healthcare, education, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Based on the graphs in the linked article above, people with an advanced degree typically earn more. However, how long people worked in their particular fields before they reached these salary levels is unknown.
Is an MBA Worth the Time?
In most cases, the answer to the question is yes. Basically, a master’s degree in any discipline can only help you throughout your career. If you are a business person, chances are your rewards for earning an MBA will be a better job at your current company or maybe another one, and that you will advance more quickly up the corporate ladder with higher pay.
Of course, as in much of life, there aren’t any guarantees. But any self-improvement you do as far as your education can only bring benefits. Still have questions about getting an MBA? There are lots of schools that offer this degree, such as this one at CityU, many of which will not force you to take the GMAT so you can start on the path to earning your MBA sooner.
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