IvyWise Resources

What Is an MBA Degree and Is it Right for You?

By Nellie, IvyWise MBA Admissions Counselor

As MBA admission offices are seeing an increase in applications due to the pandemic-induced recession, you may be wondering whether now is the right time for you to go to graduate school. Before you consider applying, it’s important to understand the basics of an MBA degree.

What Is an MBA?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. It is a degree that cuts across a variety of disciplines such as: accounting, economics, finance, management, marketing, operations, and statistics. An MBA is considered a terminal degree, and most business students do not continue additional advanced degrees, though some may decide to earn a PhD. There is also the option of completing a joint or dual-degree with an MBA. Students in these programs complete their business education and specialty area education at the same time. Some examples of dual-degree MBA program include: JD/MBA, MD/MBA, MPP/MBA, and MSN/MBA. It should be noted that applicants should have a compelling reason for pursuing a dual-degree program and be able to articulate during the application process.

An MBA is a popular degree for those that are looking to develop the skills and knowledge needed to either accelerate their career or to explore a new role or industry. While you can be promoted into a management role without an advanced degree, an MBA positions you to be a top leader in your industry, organization, and team.

The MBA provides a core curriculum that gives students a broad knowledge base allowing them the ability to work in all areas of business. Core courses build your competence in accounting, economics, and finance to name a few. At the same time, MBA programs also offer a range of concentrations or specializations that allow students to expand their expertise in a specific area. Electives or concentration courses vary from and will depend upon your area of interest. Essentially, the MBA curriculum offers depth and breadth to endless career paths by preparing you for the world of business in addition to developing your soft skills such as critical and strategic thinking, teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem solving.

In the classroom, students learn business fundamentals by putting theory into practice, use case studies to engage in reflective discussion, play simulation games to explore business issues, and collaborate on team projects.

Types of MBA Programs

An MBA can be earned in varying lengths and formats. You will find campus-based MBAs, online MBAs, and hybrid MBAs. There are four main routes a prospective student can take when choosing an MBA program.

A full-time MBA program is intensive and offers a structured curriculum that generally takes 18 months to complete. This program is most popular with students that have recently completed their bachelor’s degree and has an average age range of 23-30 and have 2-5 years of professional work experience. Students complete an internship during the summer but do not work full time during the program.

Executive MBA programs are a good fit for experienced professionals with at least 10 years of relevant post-undergraduate work experience who are employed full-time and have demonstrated leadership performance and global perspective. The program length is about 20-24 months. Classes are held during the evening and on weekends.

A part-time MBA program allows you to maintain a consistent day job and is structured around your schedule and responsibilities. The duration of the part-time MBA program will vary in length. Classes are generally held once a week in the evening or on the weekends. This is a good option for students that live close to campus and who want to maintain their professional commitments.

Online MBA programs have become increasingly popular for their convenience factor and flexible format. As with any online program, be sure to do your research and due diligence before you commit.

When weighing your options consider the following: the amount of work experience required for each program, how much time you want to spend in school, cost of the program, and your own specific career goals.

Why Should You Get An MBA?

It is one of the most popular professional degrees recognized around the world. MBA programs blend advanced skills with real world experience. An MBA will offer you a variety of advantages especially when it is from a highly selective business school. Below we have provided some of top reasons people choose to get an MBA.

  1. Advance your career. An MBA program provides a wide range of prospective job opportunities. Additionally, it is well documented that an MBA can help you earn a higher salary or get a promotion. MBAs are also well known for helping people when they are making a substantial career shift.
  2. Grow your professional network. As an MBA student, you have great networking opportunities and will interact with fellow students, professors, recruiters, key notes speakers, entrepreneurs, etc. as well as gain access to an extensive alumni network. These connections will become the core of your professional business network moving forward.
  3. Gain practical leadership and management skills. MBA programs are creating the next generation of future business leaders.
  4. Improve your quantitative and analytical training. MBAs develop skills such as analyzing large amounts of data, creatively solving business problems, and the ability to think strategically.
  5. Enhance personal skills. MBA students develop soft skills required for leaderships positions such as being a clear communicator, how to collaborate, build teams, and work within teams.
  6. Expand global reach. An MBA program is a great environment for gaining exposure to other cultures and perspective both within and outside the classroom.

Applying to graduate school is a big decision and the admissions process can be intimidating. At IvyWise, we work with recent college graduates as well as seasoned professions to help them decide whether an MBA is the next step for them in their career and how to stand out when applying to MBA programs. Our MBA admissions counselors can help connect you with programs that are the best-fit for you based on your profile and preferences. For more information on our MBA admissions counseling services, contact us today.

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