Pre-MBA Programs

Pre-MBA programs typically fall into two categories:

  1. They are are offered by many top consulting firms to expose pre-matriculation MBA candidates to opportunities at that particular firm. Examples of these programs include BCG Unlock and McKinsey Early Access.
  2. They are educational programs offered by universities to candidates who are not ready to pursue an MBA yet but still want more advanced business education. The Harvard CORe programs are a good example of this type of pre-MBA program.

For the purposes of today’s conversation, we are going to focus on pre-MBA programs at consulting firms. Overall, these pre-MBA programs consist of a wide range of elements – from summer events for incoming MBA students, to various educational bootcamps, to networking & travel opportunities.

They have become an integral part of MBA hiring because they accelerate the recruitment timetable, giving incoming 1Y MBA candidates access to employers in the summer before they start their MBA. Yes, that’s right – no longer do you have to even be on-campus to start engaging with prospective employers.

Why do pre-MBA programs exist? Consulting firms compete with one another for top talent, just as talent competes amongst itself for limited spots at top firms. These conditions continue to create a race towards new recruitment frontiers.

If you’re starting your MBA this fall and are considering management consulting, you will want to consider a pre-MBA program. This article will give you an in-depth introduction to the exploding pre-MBA program landscape.

Table of Contents:

    1. Defining “Pre-MBA”
    2. Pre-MBA Programs
    3. Pre-MBA Courses

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Pre-MBA Programs: Podcast Overview

In this podcast, we share an overview of pre-MBA programs, pros and cons, how to apply, and why they are an opportunity to get a headstart on the consulting recruiting process for incoming MBAs.

What Does Pre-MBA Mean?

Pre-MBA programs, until recently, were not a common feature of the commercial-educational landscape. So, you’ll be forgiven if you’re wondering, “What does pre-MBA mean?” If you’ve paid any attention to the interconnected worlds of business and business education, you’re aware of how competitive the landscape is. This competitiveness drives elite companies and universities, in their competition for top talent, to expand efforts to capture that talent. Internship programs are one example. The internship gives powerful companies early access to top talent. In exchange, interns receive valuable branding, exposure and the potential for a full-time offer.

Pre-MBA programs operate according to a similar premise. They are offered to future MBA students in the summer before they enter their program. They are offered by top employers (i.e., consulting firms) so that they can identify top talent early. In other cases, these programs are offered by the MBA programs themselves to help you build skills and demonstrate you are ready for an elite MBA.

Pre-MBA Consulting Programs

Many pre-MBA consulting programs are offered by top consulting firms. Here are some of the most illustrious examples.

Bain Pre-MBA

The Bain pre-MBA program, ExperienceBain, is open to significantly more schools than, for instance, the BCG pre-MBA program. However, it offers a similar blend of education, experience, and networking under the care of one of the world’s foremost consulting firms.

Application Deadline: May 1, 2023

Bain has another pre-MBA program open to Black, Latinx, and Native American applicants. The program is called the Building and Supporting Excellence (BASE) Scholars Program and it is held over the course of a week in the firm’s U.S. offices. Base Scholars participants get a taste of Bain’s culture and work – and an opportunity to secure a future summer internship.

Application Deadline: May 7, 2023


The BCG pre-MBA program is known as BCG Unlock. BCG Unlock is offered to incoming MBA students the summer before their first semester, though only about 30 specific MBA programs are eligible. This program is billed as an educational opportunity that allows future MBAs to meet one another, to gain one-on-one mentorship from BCG consultants, and to get to know BCG in advance of a career with the firm.

Application Deadline: April 30, 2023

Similar to Bain, has another pre-MBA program specific to diversity candidates known as BCG Empower. Empower is for pre-MBAs who identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and/or Native American/Alaska Native/Indigenous.

Application Deadline: April 30, 2023

McKinsey Pre-MBA

The McKinsey pre-MBA program, called McKinsey Early Access, is similar to BCG Unlock. Offered the summer before matriculation for future MBAs, McKinsey Early Access gives students the chance to network with one another and their future peer consultants. As with BCG Unlock, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn and vet the culture of a company you might work for in the future.

Application Deadline: May 15, 2023

McKinsey has another pre-MBA program specific to diversity candidates (Black, Hispanic & Latino) – McKinsey Inspire. The program runs for two days in McKinsey’s New York, Chicago, or San Francisco offices.

Application Deadline: May 15, 2023

L.E.K. Consulting Pre-MBA

L.E.K. Consulting is hosting two pre-MBA programs to provide matriculating MBA students with valuable insights into strategy consulting careers. L.E.K. Consulting’s pre-MBA programs focus on two candidate groups: women and underrepresented minorities (Black, LatinX, Native Americans). The programs will be held virtually in June and participants will have the opportunity to attend seminars, network with L.E.K. staff, participate in practice case interviews, and learn about summer internship opportunities. In addition, program participants will be invited to interview for the Summer Consultant position. Learn more and apply to L.E.K. Consulting’s pre-MBA Women’s Program and pre-MBA Diversity Program.

Application Deadline: April 28, 2023

Deloitte Pre-MBA

The Deloitte pre-MBA internship – known as the Deloitte Consulting Immersion Program – typically lasts 4 weeks and is available to admitted MBA students before they officially matriculate. It consists of 1 week of training and 3 weeks of work, often on one continuous project. Despite its short duration, the interview process is more involved than for many full-time positions, with 3 fit interviews on top of at least 1 case interview.

Application Deadline: TBD – Expected October 2023

Kearney Pre-MBA

A unique program in this landscape is the Kearney pre-MBA program known as the Kearney Diversity Boot Camp. This program is open to newly admitted MBAs of Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American backgrounds. The Kearney pre-MBA program is in-person in Chicago and takes place over 2 days. It offers students an in-depth introduction to Kearney, the nature of consulting work, as well as case interviews. People who complete the boot camp are offered an interview for the company’s larger Summer Associate Consultant Program.

Application Deadline: May 7, 2023

Accenture Pre-MBA

The Accenture pre-MBA program bears many similarities to the other firms mentioned above. One difference, however, is that Accenture puts even more emphasis on helping incoming MBAs to develop core insights when it comes to analytics and design.

Application Deadline: TBD – Expected May 2023

Pre-MBA Courses

Just as companies have learned that recruiting doesn’t have to start only after candidates begin an MBA, MBA programs have learned that there is no need to wait for students to matriculate to start offering them an education. If you’re currently an undergrad or have earned an undergraduate degree and are interested in pursuing an MBA, you might be interested in one of these pre-MBA programs.

However, you should know that none of these programs are professional or educational substitutes for – nor do they guarantee future admission to – a quality MBA program. With that important caveat in mind, let’s look at some top pre-MBA programs, in no particular order.

Best Pre-MBA Programs & Opportunities

Each of the following programs can be considered among the best pre-MBA programs available, in no particular order.

Yale Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program

The Yale Global pre-MBA Leadership Program is offered each summer to college upperclassmen and recent college graduates. This two-week program simulates and prepares students for an MBA education, focusing especially on students from under-represented communities.

UCLA Extension Pre-MBA Courses

The UCLA Extension pre-MBA Courses are designed to bridge the gap for students who may not have a conventional pre-MBA curriculum but want to attend a top-tier university. This program offers accredited prerequisite courses as well as preparatory courses to help prepare students for an MBA.

Columbia Pre-MBA World Tour

The Columbia pre-MBA World Tour has a thorough global itinerary of exciting social/networking events, as well as tourism opportunities. This helps admitted, incoming MBA students connect with one another and with Columbia’s global network.

Harvard CORe Program

There is a highly acclaimed Harvard pre-MBA program called CORe, which stands for Credential of Readiness. This pre-MBA program consists of three different courses: Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. This micro-curriculum equips people to deal with the general situations of management, as well as to prepare for an MBA education.


The NYU pre-MBA experience is a bit different from the others. Rather than a formal curriculum, NYU offers coordinated educational events with various companies, such as a Diversity & Inclusion Webinar Series with McKinsey. Further, incoming NYU MBA students have access to such pre-MBA programs as BCG Unlock.

Pre-MBA Bootcamp

Beyond the recognizable names listed above, there are a number of other pre-MBA bootcamps offered to incoming MBAs at specific programs. These are a great way to differentiate yourself early in the eyes of firms. If you’re looking to add relevant consulting experience to your resume before starting your MBA program, consider our Strategy Sprint program – a 1-week consulting engagement led by an MBB consultant that you’re staffed on for a real client in a team of 6.


As recruiting timelines move earlier and earlier, your MBA recruiting journey starts before you matriculate! If you’re starting your MBA this fall, interested in consulting, and are eligible for a pre-MBA program at a consulting firm, you should definitely apply for early networking opportunities. Work with our expert team to prepare your resume and get ready for interviews.

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Filed Under: Consulting MBA, consulting recruiting