How young is too young for an MBA?

At 21, Brandon Ngai could well be the youngest person ever to graduate with an MBA from a renowned business school. But admitting younger students might also benefit business schools due to their passion and idealism. Is there a new trend developing?


By the time Brandon Ngai is 21, he will have an MBA, a bachelor in engineering, will have been an NCAA All-American three times and have one NCAA championship under his belt. Forbes has dedicated a whole article to the new American star from California who combines his talents as an athlete with his academic ambitions.

But other media outlets like the Financial Times (FT) also argue that admitting more younger students could benefit MBA programmes as their passion and idealism is an asset for the classroom.

Several US business schools are now accepting undergraduates to their MBA programmes. For example, younger students can enroll in the Yale MBA through Silver Scholars, a three-year programme for “fresh from college” graduates. They apply in the final year of any US or overseas undergraduate course according to the FT and complete the first MBA year straight after graduation. After that they work as interns at one or more companies, usually for a year or longer. Students can then return to Yale for the final year of the MBA. MIT’s Sloan School of Management also opened its deferred admissions scheme to undergraduates or recent graduates from any university, the financial paper states.

An admissions consultant explained this trend in an interview with the paper as the desire to “shore up application numbers” as schools fear a drop given the strong US job market and increasing competition from the growing range of specialised masters programmes that also admit younger applicants.