Pre MBA Courses

Refer to courses that prepare aspiring MBA students for a successful MBA journey at whichever institution

Matthew Retzloff

Reviewed by

Matthew Retzloff

Expertise: Investment Banking | Corporate Development


September 25, 2023

What Are Pre-MBA Courses?

Pre-MBA courses refer to courses that prepare aspiring MBA students for a successful MBA journey at whichever institution.

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, a postgraduate-level degree program to prepare students for leadership roles in business and management. They cover topics such as finance, marketing, accounting, and strategy.

As an aspiring MBA student, you may have heard MBA is just for networking. This is partially true, but it is also a great time to improve yourself and learn more about business and management.

Since most people get their MBA degrees a couple of years after graduation with work experience, many people may need a refresher on basic quantitative skills.

Some people may not have been exposed to quantitative topics during their academic journey, or people from other majors and/or industries decide to go into business. Hence, it would be beneficial for them to take courses beforehand so their MBA journey will be smoother. 

That’s why there are many pre-MBA courses you should take for your success before you start your MBA!

Many colleges and universities now offer pre-MBA certificate courses in addition to MBA programs, such as:

  1. Harvard Business School
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  3. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  4. University of California, Los Angeles Extension
  5. Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and more.

However, you don’t necessarily have to take a pre-MBA program at the university where you are taking your MBA. You just know the basic concepts.

Key Takeaways

  • Pre-MBA courses refer to courses that prepare aspiring MBA students for a successful MBA journey at whichever institution.
  • Many colleges now offer this program, such as Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
  • These courses typically cover accounting, finance, and management.
  • Professionals in all industries, MBA applicants, and prospective and recent graduate students will benefit from these courses.

Different Pre MBA Courses

The foundational business and management concepts (regardless of if you decide to take a pre-MBA program or not) that you need to know before doing your MBA are:

  1. Accounting
    Accounting includes the basics of financial statements, bookkeeping, budgeting, processing financial information, and more.
  2. Finance 
    Finance includes financial analysis, financial modeling, data analytics, and investments.
  3. Economics
    Economics includes microeconomic and macroeconomic principles, market structures, and globalization.
  4. Marketing 
    Marketing includes consumer behavior, market research, product development, branding, and more.
  5. Operations management
    Operations management includes production processes, supply chain management, human resources, facilities management, inventory control, and more.
  6. Organizational behavior
    Organizational behavior includes understanding leadership, teamwork, motivation, communication, and more.
  7. Statistics
    Statistics include data analysis and interpretation, and decision-making.
  8. Strategy
    The strategy includes business planning, market analysis, competitive advantages, conducting industry, market, and company research, and more.

Suppose you do decide to take a pre-MBA course. It typically covers accounting, finance, and management, where many fundamental concepts mentioned above fall under one of the three categories.

Accounting in Pre MBA

Accounting is a core component in most pre-MBA programs as it covers the fundamental understanding of financial statements and analysis.

Students will learn accounting concepts through lectures, case studies, group projects (if in-person), and problem sets.

The goal of an accounting section in pre-MBA and MBAs is for you to have a deeper understanding and a more solid accounting foundation so you can apply it to real-world business scenarios and activities.

With that being said, topics covered in a pre-MBA accounting course may look like this:

  1. Financial statements: reading and creating balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements and extracting information from them.
  2. Bookkeeping: knowing how transactions are recorded and reconciling accounts.
  3. Making budgets: preparing and analyzing budgets, conducting forecasts, and variance analysis.
  4. Cost accountingdetermining the cost of goods sold, overhead costs, operational costs, and more.
  5. Managerial accounting: analyzing and interpreting financial data to support decision-making.
  6. Taxes: recognizing tax regulations governing business transactions.
  7. Auditing: knowing the role of auditors, the auditing process, and reporting standards.

These subjects can be studied as part of the program or independently using online resources.

We offer an extraordinary accounting foundations course with 45+ lessons, 15 exercises, and 5+ hours of video lessons… so just about everything you need to know. 

Accounting Foundations Course

Everything You Need To Build Your Accounting Skills

To Help You Thrive in the Most Flexible Job in the World.

Learn More

Finance in Pre MBA

Finance is a key area of study in the programs since it would be useless to take an MBA if you knew absolutely nothing about finance.

Students will participate in case studies and sometimes simulations to apply their knowledge of finance to real-world scenarios.

A finance section aims to have a deeper understanding of financial analysis and decision-making so you can have full-fledged success in an MBA program and a career in finance and business.

Topics covered in this finance course may include:

  1. Financial statement analysis: learning to review and analyze a company’s financial statements to make informed investment decisions.
  2. Financial management: managing a company’s money to achieve its financial goals.
  3. Investment management: selecting, managing, and mentoring investments to meet the company’s financial goals.
  4. Portfolio theories: studying how to diversify investments to optimize returns while minimizing risk.
  5. Behavioral finance: examining how emotional actors influence financial decision-making and other stakeholders.
  6. Corporate finance: using tools and analysis about financial decision-making.

One additional skill you should note is to master how to use Excel. It’s a very important application used heavily in the business and finance world.

We offer a financial statement modeling course and an excel course, totaling more than 165+ lessons, 10+ exercises, and 10+ hours of video lessons.

Management in Pre MBA

Management covers most of the topics mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Students will participate in case studies, simulations, and real-world projects to apply their knowledge in a practical setting.

The goal of a management section is to have a deeper understanding of financial analysis and decision-making.

Topics covered in this management course are:

  1. Leadership and communication: learning to lead and motivate a team to achieve organizational goals effectively.
  2. Organizational behavior: understanding the behavior and attitudes of individuals and groups within an organization.
  3. Strategic management: making decisions and taking actions that shape and guide an organization's future.
  4. Project management: The planning, organizing, and controlling of a specific short-term project.

These are the soft skills needed to be a successful businessperson. Then the rest is molding theories into a feasible management structure.

Who Will Benefit from a Pre MBA Program?

Let’s talk about all the people who can learn business management and finance.

A) Professionals

If you are already in the finance industry, you can take this program to learn most of the same skills (maybe not as in-depth) as those taught in a full-on MBA program. As a result, it will save you more time, energy, and money.

If you are not in the finance industry, you can still take up the program to improve yourself with new skills and knowledge, increasing your chances of career advancement. You can also use this opportunity to network with professionals not in your industry.

It may be more beneficial to do a pre-MBA instead of a full MBA because your primary purpose might be simply networking with others, or you need a new perspective on your career and not necessarily need to review all the learning content because of your experience.

This is also a good time to refresh your knowledge since the finance and business industry is always changing. Maybe most of the content is the same as before, but perhaps you will learn new things you didn’t learn while in school.

Overall, taking this program as a professional allows you to add value to your company or organization and take your career to a higher level with a better understanding of essential business concepts.

B) MBA Applicants

As mentioned before, MBA students can take this program to refresh their knowledge of business concepts and better prepare themselves for the MBA classroom.

Many MBA students don’t always come from a finance or business background, so those students need to learn some knowledge beforehand.

These programs can help professionals better understand the content and expectations for a full MBA program since the business concepts taught are similar.

Hence, this program can also be an opportunity for you to decide if you want to commit to an MBA or do other things for your time since there is an opportunity cost - money, time, and energy - for committing to a full or part-time MBA program.

C) Recent Graduate Students

Many new college graduates may still feel underprepared for the finance world. So taking this program allows them to be better prepared. In addition, this experience will let them stand out from the crowd and impress interviewers.

It is counted as undergraduate academic credit in some colleges, so taking this program is an opportunity to earn credit and learn practical business concepts.

This program can also be useful for non-finance and non-business majors or career path students.

For example, a bioengineering student can take it and learn about essential business skills, allowing him to lead research teams, develop strategic partnerships with big companies or other research teams, and raise funding.

An MBA program is not restricted to only finance and business students. It teaches skills that can also be used in other fields since money is crucial to every industry. 

Elite Modeling Package

Everything You Need To Master Financial Modeling

To Help You Thrive in the Most Prestigious Jobs on Wall Street.

Learn More

Researched and authored by Alisa Zhu | LinkedIn

Reviewed and edited by Parul GuptaLinkedIn

Free Resources

To continue learning and advancing your career, check out these additional helpful WSO resources: