The Best College Majors for MBAs (That Aren’t Business)

The Best College Majors for MBAs (That Aren’t Business)

While conventional wisdom might suggest that an undergraduate business degree would be the perfect preparation for an eventual MBA, the truth is that this isn’t actually the case.

In fact, an undergrad business degree might potentially hinder your chances of getting a coveted letter of acceptance from an MBA program. A Bloomberg report, for instance, cited an official with the University of Virginia’s business school as saying that the school wanted three-quarters of its class to be composed of students who do not have undergraduate business degrees.

So if you’re interested in earning an MBA degree down the road, it make sense to mull over what undergraduate degrees would best prepare you to take the plunge. The reason for this is that some degrees will be more advantageous than will others — which warrants some careful consideration.

Without further adieu, here’s a rundown of the best non-business college majors for MBAs. The first category of MBA-friendly undergraduate degrees might actually catch you off guard.

majors for mba

Humanities & Social Sciences

According to DegreeQuery, one study shows that 40% of students in Harvard’s MBA program had undergraduate degrees in the humanities or social sciences — and only 26% had backgrounds in business administration. Meanwhile, at Stanford University 47% of MBA students had humanities backgrounds compared to 17% of MBA students who had business backgrounds.

So if you either have a humanities or a social science degree or are working, you could benefit depending on where you apply. With such an undergraduate degree, you’ll develop and strengthen your critical thinking skills, which certainly won’t hurt on the MBA front.


Bloomberg reported that Harvard is one MBA-offering academic institutions that, over the last few years, has been accepting more students with engineering degrees. The report added that engineering grads were the second-biggest group of undergrads interested in getting into MBA programs.

An Examiner article added that 29% of students enrolled at MIT’s Sloan School had engineering degrees — and a mere 19% of students at the business school had business or commerce undergrad degrees.

Math & Science

The Examiner further reported that the 27% of the students accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s business school had business degrees; 44% had undergraduate degrees in the humanities and social sciences; and 24% of students had backgrounds in math, science or engineering.

While most of the applicants were of the humanities and social science crowd, there was a respectable number of students who had undergraduate degrees in math, science and engineering. This once again shows that students with undergraduate business degrees were in the minority when it came to MBA programs.

What to Do?

Depending on your career goals, an MBA can be a great way to gain new skills and increase your earning potential. That said, an undergraduate business degree, while not necessarily a deal-breaker, can make it harder for you to get a letter of acceptance for an MBA program.

As such, it’s best to earn a non-business degree before applying for an MBA program. By doing so, you can potentially increase your odds of getting an acceptance letter, and move a step closer to achieving you scholastic goal and career objectives.

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