Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Am I Too Old For An MBA Degree?

Luke Anthony Peña, executive director of admissions and financial aid at Tuck School of Business, answers your Applicant Question of the Week

Thu Nov 22 2018

It's time for another BusinessBecause Applicant Question of the Week!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, the question comes from African telecommunications executive Bwali. He's interested in pursuing an MBA in order to transition from his technical role into a more business-orientated division but is worried that, at 40 years old, he's not the ideal candidate for an MBA degree.

Ultimately, Bwali's long-term goal is to work towards a position as a CEO of multinational telecom or technology corporation. 

His question is answered by Luke Anthony Peña, executive director of admissions and financial aid at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University. Luke previously worked for Stanford...

te School of Business and graduated with an MBA from Stanford in 2012. 

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I'm an older MBA applicant (40) and have been told by many admission consultants that, due to my age, I should do an EMBA instead. How do MBA admissions consultants view older applicants? Are older applicants still valued in the MBA classroom?

The Answer:

I am often asked this question, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to dispel a common myth. 

Age does not factor into our evaluation and selection efforts, at all, in any way whatsoever. I do not know your age when I read your application. I do not know your age when I make an admissions decision. At Tuck School of Business, we no longer report age in our class profile. I don’t know the average age or the range of ages in our class, because I don’t need to know. Age has absolutely no relevance or bearing on your qualifications for admission or the strength of your candidacy.

Your accomplishments, and the behaviors and competencies you demonstrate to achieve those accomplishments, are relevant. To properly assess and calibrate your accomplishments, especially your professional accomplishments, we need to understand the context of your work. For example, we appreciate that the markers of success are different in investment banking than in the non-profit sector.

Similarly, we expect to see different accomplishments from an applicant with 16 years of experience versus an applicant with 16 months. In this sense, your amount of work experience is relevant context to help us properly calibrate our assessment of your accomplishments and your potential for greater impact. 

Your awareness, both of your goals and your motivations for pursuing an MBA, also matters. This is equally true for applicants who are early in a career and those who have significant experience. Because there is no universal 'right time' to earn an MBA, an admissions team will want to see that you’ve thoughtfully reflected on why now is the right time for you. We want you to succeed—academically, professionally, and personally—and we need you to be clear and cogent in articulating how we can help you do so.

If you are accomplished and aware, then you bring tremendous value to an MBA classroom as an experienced candidate. Your exposure to industry elevates the quality of discourse in classroom discussions and small group study sessions. Your robust network will benefit your classmates who are seeking new professional opportunities.  Your professional maturity will strengthen camaraderie within the class. And your experience lends you wisdom and confident humility about what you do and do not know, which accelerates your growth as a leader.

Bwali, I want you and all the other experienced MBA candidates to know that you are very welcome to apply to the graduate management program—full-time MBA, EMBA, and otherwise—that best equips you to grow and develop.

Learning is a lifelong pursuit; you are never too young or too old to invest in yourself and elevate your impact.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!


Next week, the team from independent admissions consulting firm Fortuna Admissions will be here to answer your applicant question!

Fortuna's dedicated team of experts are former MBA admissions directors at some of the world's top business schools, including INSEAD, The Wharton School, London Business School, and Harvard Business School

Overall, Fortuna's admissions consultants are former professionals at 12 of the top 15 business schools globally. So if you're interested in getting help from the best schools in the world, submit your question now!

You can submit a question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to, or simply post a comment below!