Why This Vet Brought His Family to Wharton

… and why it was the best thing he ever did

Resources for Nontraditional Students

You don’t have to have a degree or background in business to study at Wharton. We value diverse perspectives from students with a wide range of backgrounds and knowledge areas, including government, health care, nonprofits, education, and the arts. Your unique insights and experiences will enrich conversations in the classroom and enhance the learning environment of those around you. And the flexibility of our MBA curriculum will enable you to chart your own course.

What Makes an MBA Student Nontraditional?

By definition, a nontraditional MBA student is someone whose profile is distinct from the majority.

If you don’t have a background in consulting or finance, you might consider yourself nontraditional. Or if you’re planning to pursue a less typical career path after business school, you might identify as a nontraditional MBA candidate.

But one look at our MBA class profile will show you that many of our MBA students have educational and professional backgrounds that don’t fit the mold of the “traditional” business school student.

You’ll find bankers and finance professionals in our MBA classrooms — along with chefs, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, educators, and students from virtually every background.

Being a nontraditional MBA student at Wharton is more common than you might think.

A Comprehensive Curriculum

For those without a background or formal training in business, we have plenty of academic support to help you get up to speed.

Our pre-term courses will prepare you for the first-year curriculum and provide you with a strong quantitative foundation. Plus, you’ll find a built-in support network of classmates with our MBA cohort system and learning team structure.

You can customize your course of study to fit your career goals — select from 19 majors across 10 academic departments and round out the curriculum by taking additional electives in other areas.

In Wharton’s MBA program, you will develop the fundamental business knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue your passion. And you’ll gain a more global outlook on business that encompasses ethics, sustainability, technology, leadership, and public policy.

Making Connections Outside of Class

Your MBA experience will extend beyond your curricular life. You’ll find your tribe at Wharton.

Our 100+ student clubs and conferences play a special role for non-traditional students. You’ll have many opportunities to put your leadership skills into action by organizing high-level conferences and community outreach activities.

Wharton has a club to match almost every interest, and membership facilitates a natural learning and networking environment. This is especially important if you are using your MBA to transition to a more traditional business career.

Created by students, Wharton’s clubs reflect our entrepreneurial spirit — if you have an idea for a new club, you can create it.

Financial Resources

You can pursue internships and career options based on your passions and professional interests rather than financial reasons – there are plenty of financing options that can help you do it.

We encourage nontraditional candidates to explore fellowship and scholarship opportunities. A number of government and private scholarships and grants provide funding for applicants from specific populations, geographical areas, and underrepresented backgrounds and fields.

Here are a few you may want to check out:

The John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund for Public Service

The John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund for Public Service is open to young alumni within the first five years after graduation. Designed to ease the burden of student loans for Wharton MBAs working in the nonprofit and public sectors, the awards are based on commitment to social impact, long-term career goals, and financial need.

Summer Public Interest Fund (SPIF)

SPIF, a student-founded and student-run program, makes it economically viable for Wharton MBA students to pursue summer internships in the public or nonprofit sectors. Many nonprofit opportunities offer minimal or no salary for the summer; SPIF supplements or fully funds these opportunities, giving you the ability to use your skills for the public interest with less economic hardship.

The Wharton Fellowship Program

Wharton provides a broad range of fellowship opportunities for many exceptional students, thanks to the generosity of individuals, corporate and foundation donors, and the Wharton School. All admitted students are considered for Wharton Fellowship support.

The Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program (YRB) is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. We offer grant funds for veterans through the Yellow Ribbon Program and are committed to funding up to 50 students who are 100% eligible under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Eligible applicants may receive a maximum Yellow Ribbon Award of up to $10,000, which will be matched by the Dept. of Veteran Affairs (VA).

Growing Your Network

With a Wharton MBA, there is more than one path to success. You’ll have the business, leadership, and analytical skills to thrive in any field.

Our students explore careers as varied and unique as their backgrounds, including nonprofit work, technology, entrepreneurship, retail, education, consumer package goods, and health care management. Some enter these fields directly upon graduation, others after years in a traditional business career.

As a Wharton MBA student, you’ll have access to a world of opportunities and a personal network of 96,000 alumni.

Along with our expert career management team, these alumni will empower you at every stage of your career — from mentorship to professional development and career transitions.

That’s the power of Wharton.