What is a good age for an MBA? MBA students in a classroom

Whether you’re a few years into your career or a veteran of the boardroom, we make the case for an MBA at any age.



Some say age is just a number… some say it’s a state of mind. But if you're wondering if it’s too late for grad school, age can weigh heavily on your decision-making process.

So what is a good age for an MBA? An MBA is valuable at any age if you’re in it to develop a skillset, try something new, and become a more well-rounded leader, manager, or individual contributor.

For an older student with more experience, an MBA may be more about building a new muscle and staying on-trend than making a big move. On the other hand, if a career change or promotion is in the cards, earning the degree at a younger age means you’ll have more time to leverage its value.

What is the average age to get an MBA?

According to a recent article in Poets & Quants,1 the average age of an MBA student in the USA is 28—a number that reflects full-time MBA programs.

Iowa MBA students clock in slightly above that average, at 32 years old. Online MBA students across the board enter their program at an average of 33 years of age, according to U.S. News & World Report.2

The MBA average age varies somewhat by school. Top-ranked, full-time programs tend to attract a younger group of students. Of the top-50 ranked full-time programs, Stanford’s average age for MBA admits is 27 (the youngest average), with Washington (Foster) and Rice landing at 29 (the oldest).

According to a Graduate Management Admissions Council survey of application trends,3 29% of MBA applicants have between three and six years of work experience.

What may surprise you is that 25% of applicants overall had 10+ years under their belt. Executive MBA programs had the majority of more-experienced applicants (72%) but professional (part-time) and full-time MBA programs had 24% and 12% respectively as well.

Is an MBA worth it after 30? 40? 50?

The consensus among educators and students is that an MBA education adds value at any age. For younger students in their 30s, the credential could help propel you into higher-level roles earlier in your career.

Making a career change at 40 with an MBA is definitely possible when you leverage your education to pivot into a completely new field—or move into a leadership role.

In your 50s, an MBA could offer context around changes to the business landscape, new technologies, and improve your ability to communicate with colleagues across teams and varying age groups.

Iowa MBA Sarah Thompson went for her MBA in the middle of a decades-long career with TransAmerica after missing out on two promotions:

Sarah Thompson

“You’re never going to think you have the time or resources to get your MBA, but getting started is the important thing. Once you have that degree, people will know you’ve got what it takes.”

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average age for full-time MBA students

Source: Poets & Quants


average age for Iowa MBA students


average age for Online MBA students

Source: U.S. News & World Report

For Sarah, the MBA made a huge impact on her career, earning her those two promotions she initially missed out on. It’s also contributed to her personal growth. “I am dramatically different,” Sarah says. "More confident, more willing to ask hard questions, more ready to take risks.”

What age is too late for an MBA?

If you believe in the value of professional development, lifelong learning, and growing as a contributor and leader—then it’s never too late. As you age and your goals change, an MBA can still provide valuable opportunities, be it through a career change, a promotion, or simply adding more value in your current role.

“An MBA helps you think differently—to look at things in the big picture and not micro-focus on a singular path. You see the whole pie and not just your piece in it. It removes some of the limits you may have placed on yourself and your career.”

David Fritzinger, Chief Information Officer, Nystrom

When searching for the right fit for both your age and experience, the best MBA programs for older applicants are flexible, part-time programs that fit into the busy lives of working professionals. You’ll also want to look for advanced curriculum that emphasize leadership and strategy.

Some older candidates may also consider an executive MBA or executive certificate that has curriculum tailor-made for professionals with upwards of 10 years of experience.

If you don’t take care of your career, no one else will.

When considering why should I get an MBA, here’s the short answer: At any age or experience level, an MBA demonstrates that you’re committed to growth, helps you communicate across silos to work more strategically, and gives you an understanding of how the different functions of business connect to one another.

Interested in learning more about Iowa’s top-ranked, part-time MBA?

Start right here

Related articles

  1. John A. Byrne. “Average Age & Work Experience at Top MBA Programs”. Poets & Quants, November 2019
  2. Friedman, Jordan. “U.S. News Data: The Average Online MBA Student”. U.S. News & World Report, May 23, 2017
  3. A. Williams, et al. “Graduate Management Application Trends Survey – 2022 Summary Report”. Graduate Management Admission Council, October 2022