Expert Advice for English Majors: Get an MBA

Poet. That's the euphemism for business school students who come from non-quantitative academic backgrounds. In addition to English majors, Poets might have studied journalism, literature, philosophy, religion, history, archaeology, anthropology, etc.

It can feel intimidating to be called a Poet in the business world, but one way to convince the doubters is to get a top MBA education. Regardless of what finance, business, and engineering majors might tell you — having a qualitative background is not a necessary stepping stone to business achievement, especially when enhanced by a top MBA degree.

What's your career goal?

Let's address whether you should get an MBA. If you're an English major who plans to teach English, become a TV reporter, or write a best-selling novel, then business school doesn't make much sense. However, if you envision yourself advancing to a senior management position in a Fortune 500 corporation or launching a start-up venture, then earning an MBA may be just the ticket. The knowledge, perspective, and network acquired by b-school students become life-changing assets available nowhere else. If business is where your career is headed, then business school should be your next stop.

Can you perform in the MBA classroom?

The skills that you learned and refined through a qualitative undergraduate education are relevant and valuable in business school. Strength in writing, listening, and speaking can give you an immediate advantage over Quant Jocks (i.e., the opposite of Poet) who may find it easier to calculate than communicate. In addition, your ability to analyze and synthesize written content will serve you very well in cracking case studies and leading team projects.

How can you demonstrate quantitative competence?

Perhaps you haven't taken a rigorous math class since high school. Even if numbers are not your strong suit, there are ways to show the MBA admissions committee that you have what it takes to merit admission. The most significant opportunity is to achieve a solid score on the quant portion of the GMAT or GRE standardized test. There are excellent tutors available to help you dust away the cobwebs and prepare for success on test day. Regardless of your score, you have the opportunity to take graded extension courses — either online or in-person — in Statistics or Calculus. Earning As will quell any doubts about your quant potential.

Can you get admitted to a top business school?

It seems logical that MBA programs prefer applicants who have demonstrated competence in the kind of classes — Finance, Operations, Manufacturing, Technology, etc. — required by a b-school’s core curriculum. But that's not the case. For instance, at Stanford Graduate School of Business — the most selective MBA program in the world — a whopping 48 percent of the current class had undergraduate degrees in the Humanities or Social Sciences. Only 14 percent of admits had Business degrees! Even a Poet (sorry!) can do the math and see that having a qualitative major is not going to prevent you from gaining MBA admission.

Next steps?

No one said getting into a top b-school is easy for even the most quantitative applicant. Demonstrating all of the attributes that admission committees expect requires thoughtful analysis, planning, and preparation. That starts with getting an objective evaluation of your strengths and vulnerabilities by admissions experts, like us at The MBA Exchange. Our consulting team of ex-admissions professionals and MBA grads includes over fifteen advisors with undergraduate degrees in English, Spanish, Literature, History, Communications, Philosophy ... so, we get you.

To conclude: step up, Poets! There are excellent MBA programs waiting to hear from you.

Use Noodle to search for the right MBA program for you — tailor your search and compare schools based on location, specialization, GPA and test score averages.

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