Admission into Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs is still challenging despite the recent economic recession. According to the MBA Channel, New York University Stern School of Business actually saw a 20 percent increase in applicants in 2009. A solid undergraduate foundation with the appropriate math requirements is essential to successful acceptance into an MBA program. College-level math is also critical to fully benefiting from and understanding fundamental courses within the MBA program.


According to Professor Margie Hale of Stetson University, calculus is the study of change. Divided into two branches, derivative calculus and integral calculus assess changes such as growth rate, velocity, slope, rates of change, and results from change, all pertinent to business administration and management.


Algebra deals with unknown or projected numerical values and is used widely in financial formulas for interest rates, principal, cash flow projections, mortgage rates and value projections. Linear algebra and matrix algebra play a role in business analysis and marketing projections.

Statistics and Probability

Dr. Hossein Arsham of the University of Baltimore defines business statistics as “good decision-making in the face of uncertainty.” Statistics makes inferences about a population set or its characteristics based on a random sample drawn from that population. Statistics incorporates probability in determining the likelihood of an outcome based on statistics acquired. Statistics are vital to financial analysis, market research, production and operations.

MBA Curriculum

Most MBA courses require proficiency in these college-level math courses before acceptance into a program. Some programs such as the Wharton School of Business offer math refresher courses in the first year of the MBA program. Core curriculum often includes more advanced statistics and economics. Business fundamental courses in the fields of strategy, finance, accounting, operations and marketing further build off the necessary math basics, so a solid foundation is essential.


Most BS programs require a set number of math credits in which courses applicable to an MBA program can be chosen. For example, the Harvard University undergraduate program requires all students to complete at least one Empirical Reasoning course in the General Education Program. These include math courses such as statistics, probability, calculus, linear algebra and mathematical methods in science. Also bear in mind that successful entry into any MBA program requires a sufficient GMAT score. Establishing proficiency in the math areas covered in the GMAT will help ensure you are adequately prepared to earn a good score. Types of math covered in the GMAT include areas such as algebra, averages, geometry, percentages, permutation, combination and probability, profit and loss and quadratic equations.