Is There Such Thing As Too Old Or Too Young For an MBA?


Middle of the week here. Hope everyone is doing well.

Once again my title is pretty indicative of the discussion I want to create and hopefully gain insight toward.

In case you just follow me blindly and see my name on a post and click on the posts without reading the title (which I highly recommend you do) I am proposing the question can you be too old or too young for an MBA?

An article[/embed] I came across today was asking the question and I wanted to hear what our community of professionals, students (both MBA and undergrad), and clowns who waste their time trolling, believe a good age (or time frame) to get an MBA is.

I understand that age is not an important factor in an MBA necessarily. As the article wrote,

it's not about chronological age. It's more about maturity, readiness, and where you are in your career. Sometimes these things can be linked to age, but that's not a certainty.

I completely agree with the quote above. However in banking isn't it very common to get an MBA after your analyst stint?

If you went and completed your MBA already (or are currently enrolled) do you think you went at the right time? If not what would you have changed? What drove you to get your MBA in the first place?

Current professionals or students without an MBA, when do you want to get an MBA? When do you think is realistic? Why do you want an MBA

To provide everyone with my background I am current an undergraduate student, about to start my summer internship in consulting. I want to go into investment banking, and as of right now my plan is to attempt to get a full time IB offer after graduating in December, (if your firm wants an analyst to join around then HMU fam) do my analyst stint, and if I feel like a change purse an MBA. However if I really enjoy IB and the firm I am working for things may change. I want to pursue an MBA to gain exposure to the bigger picture, become a better leader (though if your actually going to contact me about a job I bleed leadership quality and have great experiences in leadership), and expose my mind to different styles of thinking (I actually love education and reading... sue me).

Thanks all, sorry this got rather long winded. Rather bored in class as I have a very rare down week and I am already ahead of assignments and studying.

P.S. No I do not expect anyone to contact me with a job through this random post with no info on my background. It is a (half) joke.

P.P.S. You gotta diversify yo bonds

Comments (17)

Best Response
Apr 19, 2017

There's a sweet spot but depends on the category:

  1. banker/consultant types: 3-4 years, +/-1 year but beyond that it's tough; standard route is 2+2 then b-school (2 yrs banking/consulting, 2 yrs buyside/corpdev/tech/nonprofit/whatever). Mostly 25-27ish at matriculation.
  2. engineers/corporate/marketing/accounting/backoffice finance/non-clinician healthcare, etc: around 5-6 years +/-1 year, then outside this range it's tough; depending on whether the engineers got an MS or not, mostly late 20s at matriculation
  3. US military: depending on the branches' respective service commitment; mostly 5 years from my memory (Air Force is longer - 8-10 years I believe but b-schools are mostly Navy, Army and Marine Corps anyhow). Almost always officers; straight from military to b-school (most don't have post-college civilian work experience). Mostly late 20s, some of the special forces (SEALs, Rangers) may be a little older too from my memory.
  4. clinician healthcare (doctors, nurses, therapists, physio, etc), postdocs (mostly sciences) and lawyers: not a huge number (collectively they are roughly 1-3% of the class) but usually a small but steady stream each year. Skews older given their background - early 30s usually, sometimes late 30s.
  5. everyone else (athletes, artists, nonprofit but not former banker/consultants who ventured here - truly non-traditional folks, etc): sample sizes are small enough that it's case-by-case to the point it's not about age, and more about GMAT, quant ability, and can their square peg be rounded off enough to fit into their round hole.

But if you combine everyone here, for the most part you'll find the overwhelming majority (say around 90-95%) of the first year class at any top b-school will be between 25-31.

So while you can't technically be too young or too old, there is basically a window for full-time programs.

    • 11
Apr 20, 2017

As much as I want to start a discussion and have other inputs and such, this is one of the most thorough answers I've seen on this site and very well written. I think that might wrap this one up lol. Nice post.

Apr 21, 2017

Hey, you forgot Coast Guard in your military category. We go to business school, too!

Apr 22, 2017

coast guard the little sister of the navy hah

    • 1
Apr 22, 2017

This is the correct answer. Now waiting for a bunch of 19 year olds to come in with anecdotal "but I know a guy at H/S/W who..."

Apr 20, 2017

I'm told don't do it after 28 (as in you'll be entering entry level jobs in your 30s). I'm sure if it's not a 're-branding' you'll be fine just reentering your job, perhaps maybe even your industry. Just don't do it as a chance to enter a new industry at a certain point.

    • 1
Apr 20, 2017

Why is entering an industry at 30 so bad? I hear it happens all the time. Heck some people are forced to do it later in their lives

    • 1
Apr 20, 2017

It's just because you're old. The kids are fresher and closer to whatever new is coming out. I guess they're looking at longevity. It's not really 'so bad' but it's kind of like, "why should we choose you, instead of the 22 year-old kid? Are you really going to be committed?" It happens, but gotta really hit it hard to show why they should pick you.

    • 2
Apr 22, 2017

Most EMBA programs want you to have 8-10 years of work experience. My sense is that your title isn't really the important point, but the combination of work and life experiences.
Here's what Wharton says, right up front under "candidate qualifications"

While there are no fixed requirements regarding age and work experience, class profile averages typically reflect:

8 or more years of work experience
5 or more years in a managerial position
30 years of age or older
A college degree or the equivalent
Senior management experience or potential

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread Ask away!

Apr 22, 2017

Okay, that sounds like upper level VP or an ED (age 30-32) would be the earliest one could apply. Do you think that as a first year VP (age 28) would seriously hurt one when applying? That implies 6 years of work experience, 3 of that in a managerial position.

Apr 22, 2017

OP sounds like a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.

Betsy, how much value do you see in an emba for someone with his background? At this point, I assume he has an established network, strong business background, and solid career/salary progression. I have a similar background and considered a similar route but ultimately decided it was not worth the time and effort.

Apr 22, 2017

junkbondswap: I 100% agree with you. My route of thinking was that if my firm will pay for it, why not add another degree to my resume and why not meet more successful and well-connected people. It's really not that much extra effort to spend 2/3 of my weekends in classrooms for 1.5 years if it's not costing me anything and I don't have to take an extended break from work.

Apr 22, 2017

The EMBAs I knew at my school say that they have no personal time, so it's a serious time commitment if you want to earn that extra degree. I took a class which grouped us with EMBAs for a semester long consulting projecy and they worked hard, and were very busy. However, if you think it's worth it then go for it.

Apr 22, 2017