Are you looking to add a Master’s of Business Administration to your resume? It’s a pretty smart move. After all, the MBA is a highly revered degree on the job market. It equips you with a range of valuable skills and helps you build a strong professional network. Plus, you can breeze through courses from the comfort of home thanks to online universities.
But in order for any of that to happen, you need to pay a tuition fee. The average two-year program will set you back around $60,000. Some business schools charge more than double that amount. Coupled with daily costs and accommodation, your total investment can enter the $200,000 range.
Thankfully, there are several ways to bring that number down. We’ll take a look at some of them later. In any case, you’ll still be putting a great deal of time and effort into obtaining the qualification. Is it worth your while?
The following guide has all the information you need to determine whether you should pursue an MBA degree.
Understanding the MBA
The degree in question is commonly described as an elite qualification geared towards business professionals. The courses that make up an MBA program focus on developing the leadership and individual skills required for high-earning careers in management. It’s also suitable for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own companies.
Keep in mind that there are a growing number of MBA concentrations that focus on specific areas of business. This includes areas such as finance, accounting, marketing and human resources among others. Here are some key stats:
- Qualification Level: 7 NQF/Second Cycle Bologna
- Credit Value: 90-120 ECTS/180 CATS
- Length: 1-2 years
- Availability: Worldwide
- Subjects: Business and Management
Surprisingly, the MBA is relatively new. American institutions first started offering the degree in the 20th century. It has since established itself as the mark of a dedicated business professional and is recognized internationally.
Who Should Pursue an MBA?
As with any degree of this caliber, the MBA is designed for learners who are interested in expanding their knowledge on a particular subject and moving forward in their career. It’s also an effective way to shift towards a specific industry or area of business that’s currently out of reach.
If you consider yourself a talented and driven professional, then this qualification is a suitable option. The same is true for students who want to run a successful business. Many of today’s top start-ups were founded by MBA graduates.
That said, you may want to reconsider if your primary objective is the academic study of management principles. The Master of Science (MSc) or another program in business or management could prove to be a better fit. You can always return to the MBA at a later stage.
What Makes the MBA Unique?
It’s worth noting how the MBA compares to similar programs, as it stands out in several ways. In fact, aside from being the same level qualification, the MBA and other Master’s degrees don’t have that much in common.
- Experience Requirements
Most MBA programs aren’t meant for applicants who just completed undergraduate study. They’re targeted more at professionals who have a few entries on their resume. You need to spend some time in a management position or another relevant business role to qualify. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly high-level or extensive.
Two years of experience will most likely suffice. Of course, the quality and relevance of that experience will influence your chances of approval. Some institutions are also more lenient than others when it comes to who they accept.
- Final Qualification
In most cases, an MBA is considered a terminal degree. This means that people study it as their last qualification. It provides all of the necessary training and esteem required to succeed in the business world. You probably won’t be pursuing a Ph.D. or studying again after graduating, which is another good reason to make the investment.
From the moment you enter the admissions stage, you’ll realize that an MBA is designed to create a highly engaging and competitive learning environment. This is done intentionally to prepare you for the fast-paced and often unforgiving nature of high-pressure leadership roles, as well as entrepreneurship.
Aside from some standardized admissions tests and an application essay, you may also have to attend an interview. We’ll look into this in more detail later on. What matters here is that an MBA is guaranteed to build your strength.
Types of MBA Programs
As you start searching for an MBA program, you’ll come across a number of different formats. Universities typically offer a selection of courses that facilitate more flexible learning patterns. Listed below are the main options:
- Standard Program
The most popular MBA comes in the form of a two-year course. It’s normally full-time, but sessions can be arranged to accommodate students with ongoing work commitments.
- Accelerated Program
These are more intensive courses that usually take half as long as their standard counterparts. The content is the same, so you can obtain your degree in around a year. This is suitable for people who can dedicate all of their time to study.
- Executive Program
Known as an EMBA program, these courses are reserved for applicants who have more work experience. A senior management background is often required. These programs are highly specialized and although they can be demanding, you usually have the option to maintain your existing responsibilities.
- Graduate Entry Program
If you were worried about not being accepted due to a lack of experience, you’ll be glad to know that this option is available. Graduate entry programs allow students coming directly from university to acquire an MBA. There’s usually a greater focus on internships so that you can fill the empty space on your resume.
- Dual Program
Some institutions allow you to study for an MBA and another qualification simultaneously.
After settling on one of the above-listed programs, your next step will be to choose a concentration. As we mentioned earlier, there are many different specializations on offer today. Your decision will determine where your MBA degree takes you after graduating. Consider your priorities when deliberating.
If you want to earn a larger salary, for example, then the following concentrations should be on your list. They’re the five highest-paying MBA specializations and their average annual salaries as per a recent US News report.
- Consulting ($101,108)
- General Management ($92,802)
- Operations ($91,119)
- Marketing ($89,505)
- Finance ($88,493)
Of course, there’s more to a concentration than a paycheck.
You want to enter an in-demand field with guaranteed future stability. It should also be something you genuinely enjoy doing. The Suffolk Online University blog has more information on the best concentrations. While you’re there, you can check out their courses to get a better idea of what an MBA program involves.
MBA Accreditation Explained
The value of an MBA degree is predicated on several factors. Aside from the qualification itself, where you acquired it can also play a role. Certain institutions are accredited by relevant business and management organizations.
This only happens after the accrediting company has evaluated the school and determined that it meets their standards. Factors that are considered include the course content, facilities, instructors and graduate success rates. The profile of the university’s internships is usually taken into consideration as well.
This is why accreditation is one of the first things you should look for when choosing a university. The best institutions are backed up by prestigious organizations, including the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and Association of MBAs (AMBA) for British schools.
Applying for an MBA
Now that we know just about everything there is to know about an MBA degree, we can end things off with a review of the applications and admissions process. This will obviously vary depending on where you study, but your application should require two things:
- Proof of Aptitude
You should be able to show that you’re up for the task. Being one of the most demanding programs, only the most suitable candidates will be considered for an MBA course. Make sure that your documents and credentials are up to scratch before sending an application.
- Proof of Worth
As more and more professionals recognize the value of an MBA, demand for entrance is steadily rising. You’ll be competing for a position at any top business school. Successfully going through their testing process will help you make the shortlist.
Your application should include academic qualifications and degree results. Don’t forget to provide a concise and detailed list of your work experience (if necessary) as well as references to your previous or current employer.
While not always required, you may have to submit your Graduate Records Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) results after completing the tests. Some online universities allow students to apply without these.
At this point, you should have a much better idea of whether an MBA degree is the right option for you. Be sure to give it some thought. The qualification can serve as a valuable step forward in your career.