Do (excellent) MBA programs care how many classes you take a semester?

Long story short, I’m finally getting my undergrad career together.
I left HS with a 3.25 GPA and enrolled in Southern Connecticut State University, with the hope to do my first year part-time (as a semi-gap year). COVID hit and my grades suffered, but I am rounding out sophomore year with a 3.15 after a sophomore year of 4 classes (fall) and 5 (spring)

I am transferring to Quinnipiac University (International Business major) for my remaining undergrad years. In my first two years of school I haven’t been involved, so I want to set time aside for relevant clubs and organizations (finance, international business society, etc.) Because of this (and my ADHD) that I want to limit myself to 4 classes a semester. Doing so would mean I complete in 5 years, but I also have time to build my GPA and make up for having no sophomore-summer internship.

My goals are big for a grad school. I’m not afraid of working as hard as I can to get into target grad schools like HBS, Wharton, or Stern. Will schools like that care about taking 5 years @ 4 classes a year? Let me know your advice and/or thoughts. They are much appreciated.

Top MBA programs are exceedingly competitive. To have any chance you will need: 1) an outstanding undergraduate GPA; 2) excellent GMAT scores; 3) a minimum of 2 - 5 years of meaningful work experience with increasing responsibility; and 4) very strong recommendations.

As a sophomore in college, you are way to early to be thinking about these grad programs.


Thanks for the reply. I guess I’m thinking ahead at the moment because I heard that many people my age are getting business-relevant internships in the summer following their sophomore year, so I felt like I’m a bit behind. Hopefully with multiple relevant clubs and good internships, I’ll have a better resume to begin to think about it.

Quick follow up: do all good MBA programs require work experience? I thought some didn’t require work experience. Thanks for the help.

It is true that there are still students who go straight through from UG to MBA- but for the top programs it is rare. This year’s batch at Wharton had a range of 1-14 years work experience, with an average of 5. Harvard’s average is also 5 years. I do know a current Harvard MBA who came straight through- and that kid would blow you away with what they have already accomplished. They took 5 years to finish undergrad also- but one of those years was spent accomplishing something pretty spectacular, that they had started in HS and continued through college. Most people that I know who have gone straight through have regretted it, usually about 5 years down the line, as they realize how much more value they would have gotten from the experience if they had been more experienced.

You want to start getting internships for 2 reasons: 1) building experience that will better qualify you / make you more interesting to employers for jobs when you graduate and 2) to learn more about you & the work world: do you like doing this sort of work? do you like this aspect of this field / industry? what sort of workplace do you shine in? do you see an interesting path forward in this sector? what kind of supervisory style do you work best with? etc, etc. That info will help you develop more specific, focused goals,(short/medium/long term), which will help you choose the next internship, and then job. As that experience accumulates you will decide IF an MBA is necessary to accomplish your goals- it might not be!. IF you do decide that an MBA is necessary, it will help you to pick which MBA- b/c the differences are meaningful. At this stage, the difference to you is the prestige of the name of the university, but as you go on, and get more specific goals for why you want to invest time & money into an MBA you will start to discern why even in the ‘top tier’ there are reasons to focus on (say) Y program, but not X or Z. Knowing what, exactly, you want from the program, will both help you get into the program and maximize the value you get from it.

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Agree with college mom completely. I will also add that working after undergrad introduces you to fields where you don’t need an MBA…you need something else. So CFA, a masters in analytics, or just fulfilling the requirements for Series 7 or what ever…you won’t need an MBA for some disciplines but the time could have been spent on what you DO need.

The top schools want work experience… take them at their word!