What is an MBA?

What is an MBA? The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree awarded for successful completion of a college or university MBA program. For those who have an undergraduate degree in business; the MBA is the next step in their educational progression. Professionals who have undergraduate degrees in other disciplines pursue MBA programs as a career strategy to move into management roles in their chosen fields.

Evolution of the MBA program

The first MBA program was offered by the Graduate School of Business at Harvard University in 1908 (hbs.edu, 2013). In addition to campus MBA programs, many programs are now being offered online for convenience to working professionals. MBA programs are offered full-time, part-time for increased flexibility for working professionals, and in accelerated programs that can be completed in a shorter time with a more intensive class schedule. Executive MBA programs are also available for management professionals already working in senior or mid-level management roles.

MBA admissions requirements

Admissions requirements for an MBA program are defined by individual programs but most often include a bachelor's degree (or equivalent for international students), letters of recommendation, and a minimum score on standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Professional work experience is usually preferred and may be a requirement for some MBA programs. If the prospective student's undergraduate degree is in a field other than business or the student does not have prior work experience, some programs also require basic business coursework that may not count toward the MBA.

MBA programs and specializations

Full-time MBA programs take two years to complete with intensive business coursework in year one, coursework appropriate to the student's specialization in year two, and a written research project or capstone course to demonstrate the student's management and specialization expertise. Year one generally includes some combination of business courses in accounting, economics, ethics, finance, human resources, labor relations, law, management, marketing, operations, organizational behavior, statistics, and strategy.

MBA specializations include almost every field imaginable including accounting, business, finance, health care, international management and entrepreneurship, marketing, operations and supply chain, and pharmaceutical management. Two relatively new specializations are innovation and sustainability; coursework is appropriate to the student's specialization.

MBA: Is it worth it?

Career opportunities for MBA holders are wide-ranging. Businesses often have mid-level and senior management positions available for MBA holders with many companies encouraging current employees to pursue their educational goals.

Many prospective MBA students question whether having an MBA is worth the time and financial effort it requires. In an article on CNN, Dennis Grindle, director of the MBA Career Management Center at Southern Methodist University indicated four reasons to obtain an MBA (CNN.com, 2013):

  1. An MBA holder may have an edge in a recession.
  2. MBA holders might reach their career goals faster.
  3. Some companies require an MBA for some positions.
  4. A hard-earned MBA shows commitment; it can also round out the education of those who hold degrees in non-business fields.

An MBA alone cannot guarantee future employment or teach anyone to be a good manager. According to the 2012 Global Management Education Graduate Survey, most recruiters heavily favor previous work experience and are looking for candidates with leadership skills who can innovate, effect change, and help companies enhance their effectiveness. MBA programs seek to teach these leadership skills.

Sources and further reading:


2012 Global Management Education Graduate Survey Report • http://www.gmac.com/market-intelligence-and-research/research-library/curriculum-insight/2012-global-graduate-survey-report.aspx

About Us • http://www.emba.org/about_ourhistory.htm

Beth Braccio Hering “When having an MBA is important “ June 09, 2010 • http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/06/09/cb.when.mba.important/index.html

Jeff Greer “What Makes an Executive MBA Different?” Apr 15, 2010 • http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2010/04/15/what-makes-an-executive-mba-different

MBA Program Choices

Types of MBA Programs:

Online MBA Programs
Part-Time MBA Programs
Full-Time MBA - One Year
Full-Time MBA - Two Year

MBA Specializations:

Accounting MBA
Computer Systems MBA
Criminal Justice MBA
eBusiness MBA
Entrepreneurship MBA
Finance MBA
Global Management MBA
Health Care Management MBA
Human Resource MBA
International Business MBA
Leadership MBA
Management MBA
Marketing MBA
Operations MBA
Project Management MBA
Technology Management MBA

Featured MBA Schools

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