MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, and is a popular option for grad students because it can be applied in many different industries.
MBA Program Types
There are MBA program options for nearly every lifestyle and preference. Consider your own home and work situations, and choose the option that best suits you from the list below.
- Two-Year: These programs require you to leave your current job and study as a full-time student. A longer time-to-degree can offer a slightly more manageable course load and more time for networking and establishing good contacts.
- One-Year: Similar to the two-year programs, one-year options usually involve an intense summer term that condenses the basic coursework typically in the first year of study into three or four months. This option is ideal for students who cannot afford to take two years off from work or for those who already have a fairly strong business education.
- Part-Time: The part-time option takes considerable longer to complete (three to four years), but the major advantage is that students can continue to work while they earn their MBA. Evening and weekend coursework is common for these programs.
- Executive MBA: Much like a part-time program, but specifically for executive level employees, this option allows executives to maintain their company roles while studying for their MBA.
- Online/Distance-Learning: Most specialized MBA programs can be found at both on-campus and online locations. Online options confer the maximum schedule flexibility and convenience for busy professionals, and students can complete their coursework entirely from home or another remote location.
MBA Admission Requirements
Admission requirements for an MBA program can vary greatly by school, but usually include:
- Official transcripts of all undergraduate coursework and proof of completion of undergraduate degree in any academic field
- Specific scores on standardized tests, such as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
- Completed application (including a non-refundable fee) – includes a resume, personal essay, statement of intent, and letters of recommendation
- A minimum grade point average (GPA)
- Work experience -- not required, but greatly encouraged on an MBA application
A traditional MBA offers a broad business education, with no focus on a specific sub-field. If you choose an MBA specialization, you’ll focus more on that sub-category. In some situations, employers may show preference for candidates with more focused backgrounds.
Among the most popular specialized MBA programs are:
- Accounting: This can lead to a career as a financial analyst, IRS agent, or internal auditor.
- Finance: This can prepare you to become a financial analyst, industry or product analyst, risk analyst, or fund manager.
- General Management: This specialty is for those looking to move in to a managerial position, providing a strong general background in many aspects of business.
- Health Care Management: This usually leads to an administrative position in the health care field, often in hospitals.
- Operations Management: This can lead to a career as an operations manager, who helps manage and improve a company's operations on a broad scale.
- Systems Management: Systems analysts or supporting experts typically learn how business strategy affects the interaction of businesses with the marketplace.
- Human Resources Management: Human resources executives interface between top management and various levels of employees within an organization.
- International Business: Some international business roles include administrative managers, global business managers, and chief executive officers of global companies.
- Entrepreneurship: If you have business experience and are interested in building a business from the ground up, an Entrepreneurship MBA may be a good choice.
- Marketing: Careers in sales, consulting, brand management, and market research can all result from successful completion of a specialized Marketing MBA.
When choosing a specialized MBA program, consider your experience and your career goals. Talk with managers and executives in your company in various roles, and decide which direction you'd like to head. A specialized MBA is usually the start of a long and increasingly successful career in your field of choice, so make sure your experience is substantial enough for you to be sure that your specialty is where you see yourself staying for a while. Regardless of your choice, your specialized MBA positions you for longstanding career success.
MBA Programs Must Be Accredited
Accreditation is important when pursuing an MBA. It ensures that an institution or program meets the quality standards of an accrediting body. There are three major agencies that specialize in accrediting business schools:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- International Assembly of Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
When selecting an online MBA program, it is essential to attend an accredited school as it will allow you to learn from top instructors and collaborate with high-quality students in a virtual environment as well as make you more marketable to potential employers.
Online Distance Learning MBA
Business schools may offer online distance learning MBA programs to accommodate students who already work professionally or live far away from the school they want to attend. An online MBA program incorporates similar material as that offered through campus-based programs. The difference in the experience is that assignments, lectures and interaction with professors take place online rather than in person.
Students will find both advantages and disadvantages to distance learning. Some advantages include:
- Access to learning via a computer from home or another location
- Access while currently employed
- Flexible scheduling
- One-on-one online relationships with instructors
- Saved time from travel
Disadvantages surface with online programs as well. Online students occasionally encounter computer fatigue in online studies, distractions and lack of self-discipline in studying, lack of social interaction with other students in classroom settings, and missed professional networking opportunities.
Part-Time MBA Programs
If you are employed, want to advance your career and have family obligations, part-time MBA programs can help keep a flexible schedule. The immediate benefits in enrolling in campus or online part-time MBA programs vary.
- Classes meet outside traditional business hours, either online, at nights or weekends.
- You may be able to spread the total tuition cost over a greater length of time.
- Schools use real-time business problems as the platform for your projects and assignments.
- The seminars and workshops presented in a part-time MBA program dovetail with your current professional responsibilities, adding value for your employer and earning you recognition that translates into opportunities.
For those who need financial assistance in pursuing their part-time MBA, many schools offer Federal grants, loans and scholarships, and students may also qualify for aid from business associations or organizations in their field.
MBA Tuition and Financial Aid
Because of the flexibility of accredited online MBA programs, coursework can be completed in two to five years. Financial aid in the form of government grants and loans are available for some online programs, but tend to be more limited. Scholarships are usually restricted to those awarded by private donors or the institutions themselves. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if your online program makes you eligible for need-based student aid. Private loans, such as those offered through Sallie Mae, are also available for some online programs.
- The Official Website of the GMAT, http://www.mba.com/us
- Stanford Graduate School of Business, MBA Program, Application Materials, https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/mba/admission/application-materials
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/