Wondering what is an MBA course? If you’re reading this, chances are that you are ambitious and are intending to make your mark in the corporate world. Else, you’re here because you simply want to hone your knowledge in business administration to start your own business. Either way, this article will prove to be helpful because it covers everything you need to know about an MBA degree. From learning how an MBA program can catapult your career to the C-suite level to how much it costs, this article will cover every aspect of an MBA degree to help you make an informed choice.

What is an MBA All About?

Simply put, an MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. As the name suggests, it is a postgraduate professional degree in the field of business administration. Unlike an MS or MA, the MBA postgraduate program is an experience that helps you to shape yourself into a business professional. From networking with colleagues with diverse professional backgrounds and working in teams to working on real case business scenarios, the MBA offers the right platform to grow and hence, is much more than a postgraduate degree. Since individuals graduating with an MBA come out with well-honed business skills, it makes it one of the most sought-after Master degrees in the world both by professionals and employers. 

Employers are on the lookout for MBA holders to scale their businesses, the reasons being, MBA programs teach future managers how to analyse a company’s business model and make informed decisions by seeking out opportunities in the external business environment and overcoming weaknesses within the organization that may impact the business. The ability to make informed decisions using several tools and techniques is what an MBA incorporates throughout its courses such as marketing, finance, accounting and strategy. This is what makes an MBA the most sought-after qualification by employers. 

Although other Master’s programs have their benefits in their respective fields, the unique factor about an MBA is that it can be pursued by anyone with a Bachelor’s degree in their field looking for a stepping stone into the corporate affairs of the business. Furthermore, It is recommended that individuals looking to pursue an MBA must have a strong academic background in a given field and nearly three to five years of full-time work experience before applying to an MBA program at a highly ranked business school or university.

In addition to the work experience and a bachelor’s degree, the key admission requirements of an MBA in general are, GMAT or GRE scores, high GPAs at the undergraduate level of study, SOPs that clearly highlight the applicant’s professional goals and strong letters of recommendations. However, business schools of higher reputation have a more stringent process of filtering applications, they may further lookout for leadership skills demonstrated through volunteering and other initiatives taken up by the candidate throughout their academic or professional journey.   

What Is an MBA Course’s Duration?

Depending on the type of program you opt to study and the pace at which you wish to complete your program, there are various courses offered by universities and business schools. These programs may take anywhere between 12 months to two years to complete depending on the institution. For instance, while INSEAD’s business program is a 10-month MBA program, Harvard Business School, on the other hand, offers a two-year full-time program. Why this difference? Primarily because INSEAD is an independent school specifically focused on business education for professionals, it offers a 10 months fast-track MBA program designed to cater for the needs of business professionals looking to earn an MBA without giving a lot of gap in their careers. On the contrary, Harvard Business School offers a two-year general MBA program that is focused on real scenarios and cases which is ideal for both business professionals as well as individuals prepared to commit and completely engage in the program over the period of two years. Hene, it is essential that one must carefully consider the duration of a program based on their career goals.

How Much Does an MBA Program Cost?

Given their demand and prestige, you can be sure that MBAs are not inexpensive. MBA programs are known for being costly investments in an individual’s career. Thus, the financial planning needed for earning an MBA is in itself a very important step in the journey. 

The average tuition fee of a two-year program can exceed $60,000 as reported on QS’s website. However, most universities understand that not every applicant can spend a fortune to fund their education and hence, offer financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships. These are awarded to applicants with strong academic performance, a professional background that demonstrates leadership and a clear statement of purpose. Furthermore, this highlights the importance of planning ahead and being an early applicant to MBA programs as most scholarships are limited. 

Should You Choose Independent Business Schools or University-Based Business Schools for an MBA?

The type of program you enrol in depends on the nature of the institution. Whether you choose an independent business school or a university-based business school program, the MBA programs of both kinds of institutions are equally valued. However, they differ in their approach. Independent or stand-alone business schools such as INSEAD are smaller in size and offer courses only specific to the field of business. They take a practical approach centred around the career needs of the student and are usually shorter in duration. On the other hand, university-based business schools such as Harvard Business School are affiliated to a university and take an academic approach which makes their programmes lengthier than that of stand-alone business schools. Furthermore, students may have the option to study courses from other disciplines when studying at a university-based business school since they offer a wide range of courses and specializations.

What are The Different Types of MBA Programs?

There are three broad groups under which MBA programs can be differentiated. Part-time, full-time and executive programs and each of these is designed to cater to your career goals. 

Full-time MBA programs offer a very rigorous and concentrated approach. A full-time MBA program may include a 1-year course or a typical 2-year program. Full-time MBA programs are mostly opted by individuals looking to make an entire shift in their careers using the MBA program as a career navigator. For instance, engineers or doctors looking to transition their careers from a technical role to management roles, either within their organization or at a new one. Full-time MBA programs are also often opted by students who are looking for a more immersive course.

On the contrary, part-time MBAs offer the ease of completing the program at your own pace without giving up on your job. Such programs may prove to be a better fit for someone looking to pursue an MBA parallelly with their full-time jobs. Part-time MBA programs reduce the risk of quitting your jobs to pursue higher education thereby creating a career gap.

Lastly, the third category is an executive program more prominently known as Executive-MBAs. These programs are tailored to suit the needs of seasoned business people who mostly possess nearly 10 or more years of experience and are looking to increase their leadership skills. 

What Skills Does an MBA Teach?

MBA programs teach a wide range of skills. From interpersonal skills such as communication and leadership to business-related skills such as strategic planning and analysis, an MBA program is designed to develop an individual’s business acumen. However, the core competence that an MBA program builds is the ability to analyse a business model and take a holistic view at an organization. Some of the key traits of individuals possessing strong business acumen are attention to detail, critical reasoning, problem-solving and decision making. MBA programs are designed to develop such traits which are in demand in today’s corporate world.

How is Each MBA Different from the Other? 

In addition to the duration taken to complete an MBA program, MBA programs differ based on the subjects they cover. A generalized MBA focuses mostly on all the core business functions such as marketing, finance, strategy and human resources and students are given the option to choose an elective from a wide range of courses available. Specialized MBA programs, on the other hand, focus on a core business function such as finance or marketing and approach the curriculum with more emphasis on that particular business function. 

Which MBA to choose from — General or Specialized — ideally depends on your career goals. It is advisable to opt for a general MBA if you have no background in business since it helps you familiarize yourself with most areas of core business operations. However, if you do have a business background then opting for a program that is more focused on a specific business function of your career interest is advisable, this is because it helps you build a strong foundation in one specific area of business. Universities, nowadays, also offer dual degree programs but these are more time-consuming and costlier.  

How to Prepare for an MBA?

Now that we have given you an idea of what is an MBA degree, let’s briefly tell you how to prepare for the program. The preparation for an MBA application is quite rigorous. The first step is to clearly draft your career goals because it then helps you to choose various factors such as – the country or region, the right business school and the right MBA program that fits your career aspirations. The next step is to prepare for the  GMAT or GRE exam and achieve the scores based on the average score requirement of your targeted business school. 

From GMAT test scores to work experience and initiatives taken up by you over your academic and professional career are a few main aspects that an admissions committee uses to gauge your application and decide whether you are the best fit for the program or not. 

Is an MBA Worth it? Should You Go for One?

Lastly, the question that remains is whether an MBA is worth the investment and effort. Moreover, whether you should get an MBA or not? The answer to the first question lies simply in the fact that employers continue to value MBA graduates, particularly major investment banks and consulting companies. The answer to the second question depends on your goals. If you’re currently doing well in your job and are not looking for a change then an MBA probably isn’t for you. However, if you are looking for a career change and a shot at C-level positions at your organization or aspiring to work for major management consulting companies, then an MBA is a great step toward achieving your goals. 

To Sum Up

An MBA degree is a fantastic opportunity to enrich your business knowledge and hone your business skills. Choosing the right MBA program is very important to enhance your career. Since MBA courses are expensive and tough to get into, the planning aspect of earning an MBA degree should begin well before you send a strong application to your desired business school. Carrying out sufficient research into the job market and the various MBA programs is a part of your due diligence that you should carry out before you enrol on an MBA program.  

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