Stacking a Gies Graduate Degree into the iMBA

If you’ve completed a graduate degree from Gies College of Business, you’ll be eligible to partially or fully stack that degree into the Gies iMBA. This means if you choose to continue on to your MBA – either immediately afterward or years down the road – you’ll instantly be one-third to halfway done with your degree.

  • All graduates of a Gies specialized master’s degree are eligible to apply, as long as they meet the three-year full-time work experience requirement for the iMBA.
  • You must still apply to the iMBA program, and all admission requirements must be met. Your previous degree’s GPA and group participation scores (when applicable) will also be considered within the holistic application review. Admission is not guaranteed.
  • For graduates of our management programs ( iMSM, MSM, and MSTM), 36 credit hours of your initial degree can be applied to your MBA degree (50% of the 72 hours) upon acceptance.
  • For graduates of our non-management programs (iMSA, MSA, MAS, MSF, and MSBA), 24 credit hours of your initial degree can be applied to your MBA degree (33% of the 72 hours) upon acceptance.

Why do we do this?

Because your time and money are your most valuable assets, and we want to ensure you’re making the most of both. Being able to take the credits you’ve earned and apply them toward another credential gives you a head start on achieving your next goal, and it means you won’t need to retake courses you’ve already completed or pay unnecessary tuition. It’s all part of our mission to make life-changing education affordable and accessible to learners of all ages, experiences, locations, and financial means.

Business Instruction Facility at University of Illinois

Frequently Asked Questions

What is stackability?

No matter the goals of the learner, Gies has a path to success that suits their needs – whether that’s a full degree, a graduate certificate, or a single course. At Gies, learners can complete a specialized master’s degree, and then if they apply and are accepted into the iMBA program, they can take 24- 36 credit hours (dependent on the subject of the specialized master’s degree) and put them toward the 72-credit-hour MBA.

How do we do it?

The Gies MBA is built in a modular way with courses that stack together to comprise the finished product. Courses are designed with a clear beginning, middle, and end – and learning objectives that bring all learners to a similar level of strength by the end. Because each course is specifically designed to be able to stand alone, we reduce the need for prerequisites and allow learners to take courses and specializations is almost any order so they can build the learning experience that best fits their personal life and professional needs.

How much of my specialized degree can be applied toward my MBA?

For graduates of our management programs (iMSM, MSM, and MSTM), 36 credit hours of your initial degree can be applied to your MBA degree (50% of the 72 hours) upon acceptance. For graduates of our non-management programs (iMSA, MSA, MAS, MSF and MSBA), 24 credit hours of your initial degree can be applied to your MBA degree (33% of the 72 hours) upon acceptance. Learners admitted to the iMBA must work with a Student & Academic Success Specialist to determine which courses you should take during the iMBA program to ensure you meet all degree requirements. You will also be required to complete two specialization capstones and the Program Capstone as a part of the iMBA curriculum.

I already earned my Gies MBA degree. Do I also receive a specialized master's degree?

To earn two graduate degrees, a learner must complete the specialized master’s degree first and then apply for acceptance to the iMBA program. A learner who has already earned a Gies MBA is not eligible for the iMSM or MSM program and cannot receive both degrees. A learner who has already earned a Gies MBA and is interested in a graduate degree in accounting, finance, technology management or business analytics will be required to complete the full degree requirements for the second degree.

Am I guaranteed admission into the iMBA upon completion of a Gies specialized master's degree?

No. Learners must submit a new application for the iMBA program, and an interview may be requested. A holistic review of your application materials will be completed by the admissions committee.

When I apply to the iMBA, will I be eligible to apply for the Coursera scholarship and the Forté Fellowship?

Yes, you will have the opportunity to apply for these scholarships based on the application deadlines for each admissions cycle.

I have already completed a Gies master's degree – am I still eligible to stack it into the iMBA program?

Yes! If you have already received a specialized master's degree from Gies and are interested in stacking it into the iMBA program, you can apply to the iMBA.

Is there a time limit for how long I have after completion of the specialized master's degree to apply to the iMBA program?

At this time, there is no time limit on when you can apply to the iMBA program after completing the your first master’s program. Significant curriculum changes may require additional courses to be completed depending on the length of time that has passed from completion of the specialized master’s and admittance to the iMBA.

Will I have two separate five-year windows to complete each degree?

Yes – the Graduate College allows up to five years to complete each degree program.

What is the benefit of starting the iMBA right away if I can complete a specialized master’s first and then stack it into the iMBA and get two degrees instead of one?

If you are eligible for the iMBA and that program aligns with your current goals, it is highly recommended that you apply and start that program directly. This will allow for you to design a degree plan which will enable you to reach your end goal of the MBA degree in a more timely and straightforward way. iMBA students are also grouped with other iMBA students throughout the program, based on the different admissions requirements for both programs. Please note that admission to the iMBA is not guaranteed after completion of the specialized master’s degree.

As a current iMBA student, can I switch to another program to earn my specialized master’s degree, then switch back to iMBA?

A learner may choose to forgo their iMBA studies and petition to join another program if that degree aligns better with their goals; however, they are not granted automatic admission back into the iMBA program upon completion of the specialized degree. They will need to reapply to the iMBA program and explain via essay why the iMBA program is the best fit for them now when it wasn’t previously. There is no guarantee for admission to the iMBA program. Please note that our iMSM students will be grouped with other iMSM students who may have less work experience. They will also be restricted from taking iMBA courses and capstones while enrolled in the iMSM program.

Learn more about stackability at Gies