Can You Get a Second MBA?

Did you get your MBA degree years ago?  Or did you perhaps get your MBA from a school that didn’t live up to your expectations?  Wouldn’t you like to get a do-over?  Every year, we see applicants who already have an MBA degree, but who have decided to try and go back to get the degree again from a different school.   Some find this to be more challenging than they realized.

Statistically, far more international applicants from India and Asia apply for a second MBA degree than applicants from Europe, Canada or the US.  This may stem from the differences between the University systems there.  An MBA degree in India is often only a one year degree, and at many schools, it’s not even called an MBA.  This often drives students from these regions to explore “Westernized” graduate education, which is far more marketable on the global business plain. 

The most basic complication with trying to go back for another graduate business degree, is that most top schools in the US will simply not allow it. 

When you dig into the fine print, you will quickly find that schools will not consider applications where the applicant already holds an MBA or its equivalent. 

The key words here are “MBA equivalent.” 

If you received a graduate business degree, especially from a foreign institution, the first thing you must never do in your new application is to call it an MBA.  If schools consider the degree even close to equivalent to an MBA, you may be toast before you even have a chance to explain your situation.   Often, this is easier than you think, since many schools overseas do not have the same certifications to be able to call their degree an “MBA.”  But many schools do offer a legitimate MBA, in which case your challenges to getting another one go up dramatically.

Schools like to fill their seats with high achieving potential leaders, so the first conundrum they encounter with someone who already has an MBA, is why they didn’t achieve their goals the first time around. 

If someone was not resourceful enough or driven enough to find the kind of success they are now claiming to seek then schools are taking a big risk that they would also fail to do so this time.  It’s actually the worst kind of evidence for getting into a top school:  actual demonstration of failure to do something with the degree.  This is a very difficult hole to dig yourself out of.

But just because it can be difficult, doesn’t mean it is impossible. 

Every story is unique, and certainly if you have circumstances in your career or life which offer a compelling explanation for why you deserve to take a seat from someone else who hasn’t had their shot yet, you might be able to win the favor of the admissions committees.  It will take some thoughtful discussion with someone with experience navigating the choppy waters of MBA admissions world.   Let us help you sort it out.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at or contact us via