What undergraduate degrees should an international student take if they are looking to get an MBA in America?

I currently live in Australia and have been accepted into all the top 5 university we have here. I was reading a lot of the topics that have been posted on the WSO about undergraduates who dive straight into business oriented degrees before the MBA are doing more harm to themselves. I wanted to get a bit more opinion on this, if people from this forum can chime in. I'm currently enrolled at a University for an undergraduate degree in a Bachelors of Business with a major in Management but I have been told by my Uni advisory (they have to be non-biased) that I can change degrees and switch university to any of the top 5 ( I had spoken to her about the top 5 universities and she okay'd them) Would it best for a student looking to work in a medium tier PE or MA firm to perhaps get a degree in Arts or languages with a minor in Finance or Accounting; something similar to that then after completion of that degree study an MBA at an ivy or top 25 MBA school in the US. I have read a lot in here that companies often employ psychology/engineering/science/arts majors over finance/accounting candidates but of course this is a case-by-case and of not the majority.

What are your thoughts or suggestions?
Australia doesn't have a strong business scene but our university are above average.
America is a definite location for my MBA dreams more specifically Columbia, Stanford, Yale or Cornell.
Universities here allow you to study abroad and intern internationally in your final year for credit points, I could get an internship in the US if that is a need.

Thanks a lot to any replies. I'm usually a very good at finding the answers and info myself but I couldn't find any extra info this time so I decided to ask instead of lurk like I've been doing for the past year.

Cheers for all the advice and information I have scene and read on this site. WSO is often an icebreaker when speaking to people in the business industry here.

Best Response

if you really want to prepare for US later in your life, NUS and HKUST are two examples of best schools in Asia region in financial hubs - you could consider those because location matters. you could also try to transfer into high-tier US schools now if others things can be arranged for you.

if you have to pick among the 5 Australian schools, go to the best school name to have the most resources outside of classroom, and then major in a field that will HELP you succeed professionally - getting into a great program requires that you're an overachiever for a long time.

Then feel free to do additional majors in things you LIKE so that you're genuinely interested into. Some might not translate into jobs, and that's why the other job-friendly major matters. (e.g. I had a friend, business major doing music on the side - totally useless for jobs, but he loved music)

I have friends attended/attending Australian National U and U of Melbourne. But which to go.. I'll leave it up to you.


It seems like you're long-term goal is to go to a top 5 business school in the U.S.

Doing a hard major like engineering will on average lower your GPA, which will hurt you during the application process for an MBA.

Doing a super easy major like sociology can help your GPA, but hurt you in job opportunities.

So you have to ask yourself, what will give you the best GPA with the best opportunities for internships and jobs after you graduate from undergrad.

Sociology may be easy, but I don't know what type of jobs you can get afterwards that will look impressive on your resume for business school. Whereas engineering could harm your GPA but open up great opportunities for work experience, and in case you ever want to work at a start-up or understand the product side of things better, engineering can help you.

You also have to look at school trends, certain years schools like Harvard Stanford Wharton accept more finance and consulting professionals while other years they might take in more students from other backgrounds such as tech and consumer products.

Ultimately, you want to ask yourself what you want to do with your life, and setup your education around that, because if you force yourself to take a major you hate, you're likely going to get worse grades and you'll hate your job afterwards.


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