A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most sought-after business management degrees. It can be a steppingstone for many individuals, whether they hope to run large corporations, become a startup owner, or thrive in a Fortune 500 company’s leadership.
This type of graduate-level program provides students with the ability to specialize their education or obtain additional insights into key areas that apply to their chosen career path.
What is an MBA?
Considered a generalist degree, an MBA covers business principles such as finance and economics, as well as more real-world applications, including business functions. Students learn through numerous course options but also through the practical experience of those they enroll and network with during their coursework. As this is a flexible degree program, students who wish to advance, transition, or expand their knowledge base can find opportunities in this program.
What is the difference between an MBA and a business management degree?
A master’s degree in business management is somewhat like an MBA, but with a bit less specialization. These degree programs tend to take less time to complete and often involve more general classes. Here, graduates also learn leadership skills and work as general business managers or consultants.
By comparison, an MBA program provides a more specific set of courses across the board. It often takes a bit longer to complete, but also provides more in-depth coverage of what it takes to run a business. This may include areas such as finance, organizational behavior, analytics, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship. Students with an MBA degree are more likely to work in upper management positions as executives, administrators, and analysts.
What does an MBA program focus on?
An online MBA program generally focuses on core areas of business administration and management. In addition to foundational courses, many programs offer the opportunity for students to specialize their degree by choosing a concentration or gain advanced knowledge in a specific subject area via elective courses.
A Master of Business Administration program is very flexible. However, there will be a set of foundational or core courses most students will need to complete to earn an MBA from an accredited institution. Some of those core courses may include:
Earning your Master of Business Administration can help you specialize your expertise while also developing key skills that have broader applications. Some of the most sought-after skills for MBA graduates may include:
Expand and develop key skills in the area of finance with your MBA, such as:
Corporate investment management
Small business finance
Hedge fund management
Your MBA can help you build key marketing skills, including:
Strategy in e-commerce
Sales management and strategy
Demand is growing for business analytics. An MBA may offer advanced skill development in areas such as:
Many MBA candidates focus on accounting skill advancement, developing advanced skills such as:
Accounting acquisitions and mergers
Fundamentals of managerial accounting
Financial statement analysis
Advanced skills in human resources available through some MBA degree programs may include:
Ethics and responsibility
Bargaining, negotiating, and dispute settlement
Labor and employee relations
Personnel staffing and evaluation
Strategic management of human assets
Teamwork and leadership
Typical concentrations and electives
Some MBA programs allow students to specialize in a variety of specific areas. These electives and concentrations may be applicable to those pursuing a specific career path. Individuals will find varied electives like this available to them, though they differ from university to university.
Some common MBA concentrations may include:
Energy and clean tech
Health care management
In addition, many students may wish to take electives to round out their MBA degree. Courses may include:
Accounting and control
Organizational behavioral studies
Data forecasting and management
It’s critical to choose the courses best suited for your desired career path. The right courses, especially advanced skills and electives, can help increase your starting salary. It may also open doors for new job opportunities in a desired field.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for a graduate education. Many programs come in various forms, each with its own benefits. Here are some of the most common questions you should ask when researching your master’s in accounting:
MBA coursework can be completed in various ways. Lectures may be prerecorded or delivered through videoconferencing software. Most coursework itself is completed using an online portal to submit assignments and gather insights.
It generally takes about two years to finish an MBA program. Some full-time students may take longer to complete additional specializations or concentrations.
Online MBA programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
The fine print on MBA accreditation
There are two types of accreditation — regional and specialized.
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. Regional accreditation confirms that the provider has met and maintained adherence to a minimum set of academic standards.
Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.
Schools often apply to gain specialized accreditation for specific areas of study, departments, or degree programs. The leading authority for business schools is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. Enrolling in an accredited program makes you more marketable to employers and can affect your career growth over the long term.
Why accreditation matters
Accreditation is key if you want to:
Transfer your credits, as most schools will only accept transfer credits from accredited institutions
Apply for financial aid, as federal aid is only granted to students who are studying at recognized accredited institutions
MBA degrees are usually accredited through the following — and may hold more than one:
AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)
ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs)
IACBE (International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education)
Verify both the regional and national accreditations a school offers. Also look for individual accreditation of the courses you plan to take. Specialized accreditations can help your degree stand out when applying for jobs.
You have goals. We have a path.
A Master of Business Administration can open new doors for you and equip you with skills that are applicable in nearly every industry. As the world’s learning company, we proudly partner with universities to offer a suite of online MBA degrees. Whatever your career goals, we have a path for you.