Ask a Scholar: Can I Get into B School Without a Double Major?

Scott Masten

This is one answer given to the "Ask a Scholar" question about business school. Click here to read another. 

Dear Ask a Scholar,

I was going to graduate this December with a double major in business administration and computer science. Unfortunately I had to withdraw from the computer science senior project. Therefore, now I can only graduate with a major in business administration and only a minor in computer science. I wanted to know how this fact is going to affect my chances of being accepted to a good graduate school and whether postponing my graduation and retaking the course would improve my situation. I am applying for an MBA. Thank you in advance.

Answered by Scott Masten, professor of Business Economics and Public Policy in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania, and graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College. His research focuses on issues at the intersection of law, economics and organization, and his work has made him a leading scholar in the area of transaction cost economics. He has published numerous articles relating to contracting, vertical integration and antitrust and is currently working on a book on the organization and governance of higher education.

With thousands of business schools, all with their own admissions policies and criteria, generalizing is difficult.  My sense is that, at most business schools, performance in the courses a student has taken is more important than whether a student jumped through a particular university's hoops for qualifying for a second major.  I think that a better way to approach this question, however, would be for the student to consider what he would do with his time if he didn't use it to complete the second major.  Most top business schools expect students to have business experience, often a minimum of two years, before they will consider them for admission.  If the student does not already have a business background, his time would likely be better spent gaining some experience than adding a secondary academic credential.  If he already has relevant experience or if employment prospects won't allow him to acquire it before applying to schools, then completing the second major may be the best use of his time. 

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March 23, 2011


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