The MBA Journey For Those Without Prior Qualifications

The MBA Journey For Those Without Prior Qualifications

As the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate qualification, traditionally a completed undergraduate degree was required for entry. However, not every MBA candidate will have travelled the same path, and nor should they. At the Australian Institute of Business (AIB), we recognise this and offer flexible entry paths for those without a formal degree. 

The second most popular entry path for our MBA is via real-world management experience. This is how 37% of our MBA graduates gained entry to the programme – no undergraduate degree required! Managers and leaders have a wealth of practical experience that can be applied to the MBA, the great value of which is only truly understood once their study is underway. 

While these students possess years of experience that can’t be replaced, the MBA journey can differ for them. We spoke with some of our graduates who had not completed degrees prior to the MBA to learn about their journey to graduation. 

A chance to bring it all together

The majority of MBA students without prior degrees boast an enviable amount of management experience. For them, the MBA is an opportunity to connect the dots between their years of hands-on experience and practiced business theory. They often explain that they had ‘done things a certain way’ for some time, but didn’t truly know whether it was the best approach.

Learn how your work experience will supercharge your MBA

For AIB MBA Graduate Sheryl Mapp, the MBA was exactly that – a means of her connecting previous (non-bachelor) studies with her work experience in a formal master degree. “The MBA helped bring together things that I had done in the workplace and understood in a practical sense, but didn’t necessarily have the academic theory behind it.” Students find that post-MBA, they can discuss these theories in a strategic context, allowing them to demonstrate how certain decision-making could affect other business units.

A supported experience

The thought of becoming a student after years of being in the workforce can be daunting even for the most confident individuals. Postgraduate study requires a particular approach to course content, and for first time students, it can seem somewhat foreign at first. The good news is, MBA students will have access to an established support network, offering assistance with everything from understanding course content in a practical sense, to academic referencing and tips for exam study.

Many students find this support integral to their study success, AIB MBA Graduate Ashley Denishensky being one of them. “I found the support at AIB was tantamount to helping me get through the process – the student administrators were great assistance to me,” he said.

Students without prior academic experience should not fear the MBA journey – your business school is there to support you along the way, through both the good and the bad. A word of advice for new students – familiarise yourself with the support that your business school offers, so in times of need, the information is easily accessible for you. 

The support services available to AIB students include:

An opportunity to connect

The networking opportunities on offer during an MBA are considered second-to-none. Students can connect both online and in person, building lifelong contacts across a range of sectors and roles. For those who have not studied in the past, they find this to be a very valuable part of the MBA journey. The networking opportunities allow for both local and international contacts, allowing students to expand their existing networks.

Visit the AIB Community Hub – our directory of online student communities

In addition, the MBA journey is a chance to connect with current business practices and theories. When in a role for some time, we can often become pigeonholed within our own industry and processes. The MBA journey provides an opportunity to connect with businesses outside of your own, learning what competitors are doing and stimulating many ideas for your own role. It’s a great way to gain an understanding of up-to-date business theories, to ensure that your practices and decisions are as informed as they can be.

A rewarding challenge

Despite hesitation, often when we apply and challenge ourselves, it results in success and self-accomplishment. For those who approach the MBA journey without prior academic experience, the achievement of an MBA is incredibly rewarding. It challenges students from both a personal and professional perspective, and sees them achieve milestones they had once dreamed about. This sense of achievement alone is enough for some students to pursue the degree, but the feeling is one that can subsequently be applied in the workplace post-MBA. For many, they enjoy the increased confidence, as they’ve proven to themselves that they can do whatever they put their mind to.

While the experiences discussed are most common for those without an academic background, they are also very relevant for applicants entering the programme through other criteria.


The MBA from AIB is Australia’s largest MBA, chosen by more professionals than any other MBA degree in the country. It has been specifically designed for busy working adults, delivered 100% online through our interactive Student Learning Portal. The AIB MBA offers genuine flexibility, industry-relevant course content and the practical knowledge and skills you need to achieve your career goals.

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