Setting the foundations: Should you take an MBA preparatory course?

Do you have ambitious career plans mapped out in your mind? If you harbour dreams of climbing the corporate ladder and working your way towards a C-Suite position, acquiring a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree might help. 

Some higher-level positions are more accessible to MBA holders as companies have been known to reserve their top-ranking positions for individuals with the coveted business degree.

If you’re hoping for your career to take off with the help of an MBA, but feel concerned about not having the right professional experience, or lack an understanding of core concepts in areas such as accounting, economics, finance and math, you’ll need to get up to speed prior to enrolling in an MBA programme or risk falling behind.

And that’s where an MBA preparatory course comes in handy.

What is an MBA preparatory course?

As the name suggests, an MBA preparatory course (or MBA foundation course) aims to help incoming MBA students cope with the rigours of an MBA programme. This is done by providing students with a basic understanding of fields that are crucial in the programme. For example, University Canada West offers an MBA Foundation for students who do not have the professional or academic qualifications but wish to pursue the MBA programme.

There are some free MBA preparatory courses online too, such as the one offered by the Imperial College Business School in London, while many others require payment. 

Will it help you succeed in an MBA programme?

An MBA preparatory programme aims to help prospective MBA students develop foundation knowledge that will be essential during their MBA programme. As such, it does not necessarily guarantee MBA success, but it equips you with the tools to help you start the programme without getting overwhelmed.

Where can you enroll in an MBA preparatory programme?

Many universities that offer MBA programmes offer MBA preparatory programmes. Institutions offer them online, offline or through a combination of both. 

So, do you need to enroll in an MBA preparatory course?

As programmes in universities and across different countries – be it in Asia, the US or Europe – have different entry requirements, you’ll need to check with your institution to decide whether or not you need to enroll in an MBA preparatory programme. 

For instance, in the US, as part of the entry requirement, the majority of business schools require students to take the GMAT. Your GMAT scores are used to gauge if you have mastered the skills and concepts required to help you in your studies while at a business and management school. 

Some institutions may grant students conditional acceptance into their MBA programme if they do not meet a specific requirement, and require students to take a preparatory course, in addition to other relevant courses that may be essential to them. 

Conversely, some universities base their entry requirements on students’ undergraduate GPA and work experience, and don’t require standardised tests for admission. However, aspiring MBA candidates who feel their analytics and business knowledge concepts are rusty may benefit from enrolling in an MBA preparatory course. 

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