Admissions expert on how to apply for an MBA without a business background

Most MBA applicants have an impressive CV made up of university achievements, career highlights, voluntary work and leadership experiences and all from a corporate or business background. So, does this mean that applicants with creative backgrounds have no chance?


Shari Hubert, associate dean of admissions at Duke Fuqua School of Business, answered this question for "Business Because" and we thought, we would share a summary of her interesting answer.

First of all, Hubert was not worried about any 'non-traditional' background. "We see applicants from all sectors (private, public and non-profit/creative), as well as entrepreneurs," she wrote.

She did, however, encourage applicants to think about the type of 'professional experience' they have instead of the type of 'corporate experience' they do not have. She highlighted four aspects that should be considered in an application and showcased with examples and life experiences: How applicants have worked as part of a team and potentially lead this team, how they found themselves in a difficult situation with a co-worker or peer over an issue and how they handled the situation, how they failed an achievement and needed to rebound and move on and finally how they solved a challenging problem using their judgment or new skills learned on the job. Such aspects could be incorporated in the resumé, in essays, as well as the interview but recommenders could also mention them in their letters.

Another essential piece of advice that Hubert gave was to still put emphasis on the quantitative abilities that applicants can show as these are highly valued at business schools and as this is sometimes a concern for applicants from non-business backgrounds. To improve these skills and achieve higher GMAT or GRE scores, Hubert recommends taking additional quant-related courses like statistics for example.