What Is an MBA?

Woman with an MBA degree using a tablet

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a graduate-level degree program. It is suited for everyone who wishes to acquire new skills and knowledge that will help them reach for leadership positions within business organizations. Individuals who earn an MBA degree can work within virtually any industry. An MBA degree may help boost your career regardless of whether you work in the public, private or nonprofit sector as it provides the necessary business tools, communications skills and critical thinking perspective needed in today’s changing world.

What Are MBA Programs Like?

Earning your MBA no longer requires you to pack up your home and move closer to campus—no matter where in the world you live. Many business schools now offer online learning opportunities, enabling you to complete your degree requirements from anywhere. This is an ideal choice for business professionals who wish to continue working at their current company while studying on the side.

Before choosing an MBA degree program, make sure you understand what it requires. Many MBA programs can be completed in two years. However, there are some accelerated programs available that may allow you to graduate in as little as one year. Note that these may require a more rigorous schedule that might not be practical for you if you’re already working on a full-time basis.

Regarding the scheduling, another factor to consider is the specific type of MBA program you select. You may choose a general MBA program, which will typically require fewer credits. Or, you may choose a specialization area in addition to the MBA curriculum, which will usually require more credits. Many MBA programs offer two additional courses in a common area, such as cybersecurity, finance, marketing or project management for that specialty. An example of the full degree with this specialization is a Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Strategic Human Resource Management.

Is an MBA Degree Is Right for Me?

Earning an MBA will require hard work and an enduring commitment. However, the rewards will be well worth your effort. Holding an MBA degree is like stamping a special access pass on your resume and LinkedIn profile. It will set you apart from other job applicants and enable you to pursue promotion opportunities. This degree program may be right for you if any of the following apply:

  • You aspire to transition to a high-level management role at your current company, such as the C-suite.
  • You are planning to leave your current company to pursue a higher-level role at another corporation.
  • You have an entrepreneurial mindset and wish to build your own business.
  • You are working toward a second career and need to develop new skills and acquire more knowledge.

Career Options for MBA Graduates

Those with an MBA degree can go on to pursue a vast array of careers. Graduates are equipped for any career involving business and leadership. However, due to the extensive knowledge that is gained in a Master of Business Administration, graduates may take on high level positions such as a:

  • Chief marketing officer (CMO)
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)
  • Marketing director
  • Finance manager
  • Business operations manager
  • Management analyst

What Do I Need to Apply for An MBA Program?

Generally, individuals who enroll in an MBA degree do so after spending at least a few years in the workforce, gaining critical hands-on experience and on-the-job training. Indeed, some business schools will only accept MBA candidates who can demonstrate some work experience. However, if you are planning to transition to a second career, then you might not need work experience that is specific to your desired career.

One thing that all MBA students should have is the ability to clearly articulate their professional goals. You should have a general understanding of what you hope to get out of your advanced education and how your degree will help you build your career. You also need to be highly motivated to learn what the MBA has to offer as graduate education requires the student to “own their learning” and be intellectually curious about the material.

An MBA experience will also be highly enriched because of the other students enrolled as they share their previous and current business perspectives. Thus, the MBA program is highly rewarding because of the interaction with other students from both an academic and professional networking experience.

After you have decided to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree, you should carefully research the application requirements for your chosen school of business. You may need to take the Graduate Management Admission Test™ (GMAT), although not all business schools require it.

What Can I Expect From an MBA Program?

Your MBA degree program will require a great deal of hard work and studying, but it will certainly pay off in the end. You will benefit from learning from instructors who are experts in their industry and you will learn from the diverse perspectives of your fellow students. Much of your work may be completed solo, but you may also complete some group projects. These are opportunities to refine your leadership skills and build your professional network.

Furthermore, you can expect to gain skills and knowledge that are immediately applicable in your work. Your professional development will enable you to make positive contributions to your company. Learn more about how difficult MBA programs can be and ways to cope.

How Can I Make the Most of My MBA Experience?

You will only earn an MBA once, so make the most of your experience. It’s best to enter the program with the mindset that you have the ability to learn something meaningful from everyone you encounter—whether they are instructors or students. You should also treat your fellow students as if they are colleagues or business partners. Work collaboratively on group projects and be an empathetic leader.

The Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University offers a wide range of MBA degree programs via our online learning platform, which enables students to learn from virtually anywhere at any time. You can choose from the MBA in leadership, marketing, health systems management or sports business, just to name a few. Our Christian learning community welcomes working professionals who aspire to personal growth and development.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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