Back when apples were just fruit and the United States was on its way to becoming the largest economy in the world, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) was introduced in response to the high demand of management from businesses in the country.\r\n\r\nNow one of the most sought-after post-graduate degrees, the MBA is popular amongst a diverse group of professionals, including corporate and technical employees, international students, entrepreneurs and career switchers.\r\n\r\nSome context about me: I am one-and-a-half years out of university, freshly 24, and working remotely as a digital marketer. I know I am lacking a strong industry network and managerial skills that can help me grow professionally. A salary increase wouldn’t hurt either.\r\n\r\nHaving this in mind, I attended a QS Discover event. The Master fair began by hosting a panel of admissions officers to speak on the MBA experience and answer questions from the audience. By the end of that first half hour I was aware that:\r\n\r\n\r\n\tBusiness school is the ideal environment for networking within your industry and across verticals.\r\n\tAdding an MBA education to my resume makes me more competitive for mid and senior roles within a company.\r\n\tThe overwhelming majority of MBA graduates see a significant salary increase.\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you wish to learn about top universities from around the world in our free virtual and in-person student QS Discover events, you may check out the event schedule.\r\n\r\nSounds great on paper, but what exactly is an MBA, and should you and I get one? The following article will introduce you to the Master of Business Administration and give you some general insights about the programme.\r\n\r\nWhat does MBA stand for?\r\n\r\nMBA stands for Master of Business Administration, a type of master\u0027s degree geared towards general business.\r\n\r\nThe degree was first introduced in 1908 by the Harvard Business School in response to the high demand of management from businesses in a period of fast economic expansion.\r\n\r\nSince 2011, the MBA programme is the most-sought-after postgraduate degree due to its appealing professional benefits.\r\n\r\nWho gets an MBA?\r\n\r\nThe Master of Business Administration is for anyone who wants to build their general business knowledge, grow their professional network, and increase their career and salary opportunities.\r\n\r\nBusiness schools around the world welcome diversity in their candidates\u0027 backgrounds, meaning that there isn’t one kind of MBA applicant. Typical undergraduate majors include general business, finance, and economics. However, there is no ‘best major’ for getting an MBA.\r\n\r\nMost full-time MBA candidates are still early in their career, the ideal amount of work experience being three to five years. MBA applicants come from a myriad of industries, including but not limited to consulting, technology, nonprofits and media.\r\n\r\nMBA subjects: What do you learn in business school?\r\n\r\nThe Master of Business Administration builds general business knowledge so candidates can rejoin the workforce with a holistic understanding of how an organisation operates. MBA education is often divided into two components: the core curriculum and electives.\r\n\r\nMBA core curriculum and electives\r\n\r\nTypically the first year or semester of the MBA curriculum consists of core classes that go over key areas of general management. These may include accounting, business communication, marketing, finance, operations, economics, strategy, organisational behaviour and leadership.\r\n\r\nElectives are also available for students to tailor their education to their specific career goals. Elective courses cover a myriad of topics from HR management to entrepreneurship.\r\n\r\nMBA specialisations and concentrations\r\n\r\nSome business schools have specialisations or concentration tracks for students to base their electives from. For example, The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania offers particular majors within their full-time MBA programme, ranging from general management to real estate. While pre-established tracks will have mandatory elective courses, specialisations and concentrations allow students to personalise their MBA experience to fit their needs.\r\n\r\nWhat are the types of MBA courses?\r\n\r\nWhile the traditional MBA degree is a full-time, in person course, business schools have adapted to be more accessible to more than one type of candidate.\r\n\r\nFull-Time MBA\r\n\r\nFull-time MBA programmes involve a rigorous curriculum and schedule. Enrolled students typically take a break from working and attend classes during weekdays like a regular university schedule. The focus is not only on academic learning but also on networking, internships, and campus activities.\r\n\r\nPart-Time MBA\r\n\r\nPart-time MBA programmes are made for professionals who wish to pursue a business master while working. These programmes are usually taught in the evenings, weekends, or in intensive modules. They take longer to complete than full-time programmes but allow for more work/life balance.\r\n\r\nExecutive MBA (EMBA)\r\n\r\nExecutive MBA programmes are made for mid- to senior-level professionals who have significant work experience, typically around 10-15 years or more. EMBAs focus on advancing leadership and management skills and are often part-time or modular in order to minimise disruption to participants\u0027 work schedules.\r\n\r\nOnline MBA\r\n\r\nOnline MBAs offer the most flexibility as they allow students to complete their studies part-time and remotely. This format is ideal for those who cannot relocate or commit to a regular schedule due to professional or personal responsibilities.\r\n\r\nJoint and Dual Degree MBAs\r\n\r\nJoint degree MBA programmes combine regular MBA education with another graduate-level degree. Common joint degrees include MBA/JD (Juris Doctor for law), MBA/MD (Medical Doctor), MBA/MPH (Master of Public Health), or MBA/MS (Master of Science in a particular field).\r\n\r\nSimilarly, dual degree MBA programmes are also the combination of two separate degree qualifications. However, unlike joint degrees, they are often partnerships between two distinct institutions, meaning that candidates graduate with degrees from separate institutions.\r\n\r\nHow long does it take to get an MBA?\r\n\r\nThe duration of MBA programmes varies by region and type of course.\r\n\r\nIn the United States, traditional full-time MBA programmes are typically two years, which allow for a deep dive into core business principles, specialisation options, and internships. In contrast, European, Asian, Australian, and Latin American MBAs typically span over one to two years, reflecting a focus on rapid re-entry into the workforce.\r\n\r\nThe Part-time MBA, EMBAs, and Online MBAs offer a flexible schedule over a longer duration, usually two-three years. Joint and dual degree MBA programmes typically last three-five years.\r\n\r\nWhat are the MBA admission requirements?\r\n\r\nMBA applicants are typically expected to hold an undergraduate degree and demonstrate a certain level of professional experience. Candidates submit a comprehensive application package that includes a resume, personal essays, letters of recommendation and transcripts. These materials provide insights into the applicant’s accomplishments, leadership potential, and career aspirations.\r\n\r\nA crucial component of the application is the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), where schools can evaluate a candidate’s verbal, quantitative, and critical thinking skills. Furthermore, international students whose first language isn\u0027t English must submit proof of their English proficiency, typically assessed through TOEFL or IELTS test scores.\r\n\r\nBusiness schools also invite select candidates for an in person or virtual interview as part of the admissions process to gauge their interpersonal skills, motivation and fit with the programme\u0027s culture and values.\r\n\r\nPlease note that some programmes may have unique requirements, so candidates are advised to thoroughly research the specific requirements of each programme to which they are applying.\r\n\r\nMBA jobs: What can you do with an MBA?\r\n\r\nAn MBA degree can pave the way for career advancement in various industries, aiding a candidate’s career growth and eventual progression into executive positions. Key industries include: finance and banking, consulting, consumer goods, amongst others.\r\n\r\nMBA graduates may also be found in other industries like healthcare and nonprofits. Many become entrepreneurs or work for startups to use their business knowledge to build something from the ground up.\r\n\r\nIn essence, the MBA degree can open doors to anything you set their mind to.\r\n\r\nMBA cost and financial aid: How much is an MBA?\r\n\r\nThe cost of an MBA programme will vary depending on factors like location, school prestige, and the type of programme. Business school is often a significant financial investment, typically ranging anywhere from $20,000 to over $200,000 USD.\r\n\r\nHowever, a variety of financial aid options are available to alleviate the cost of an MBA. Scholarships and grants are popular, offered by universities, private organisations and foundations. The awards can be based on merit, diversity, or other specific criteria like industry background and leadership potential. Loans are another popular option. They can be government-sponsored or from private financial institutions.\r\n\r\nSome companies offer tuition reimbursement or sponsorship programmes to their employees. In such cases, MBA candidates may attend business school free of cost while remaining working part-time or signing a contract to return to their employer post graduation.\r\n\r\nWork-study programmes are also an option. Students work part-time at the university in exchange for tuition reduction. Lastly, some business schools have fellowship programmes, which provide financial aid, mentoring, as well as exclusive networking and program opportunities.\r\n\r\nIs getting an MBA worth it?\r\n\r\nWhether the degree is worth it will depend on your personal goals and circumstances.\r\n\r\nI welcome you to consider the following factors before deciding for or against starting your MBA journey:\r\n\r\n\r\n\tCareer Advancement: An MBA can open doors to higher-level management and executive positions. It\u0027s particularly beneficial if you’re looking to change careers.\r\n\tSkill Development: MBAs provide valuable skills in leadership, strategic thinking, financial analysis, and problem-solving, which are applicable across industries.\r\n\tFinancial Consideration: The cost of an MBA programme can be substantial. You should weigh this against the post-MBA salary increase and career opportunities.\r\n\tNetworking Opportunities: MBA programmes offer networking with professionals, alumni, and industry leaders, which can be invaluable for career growth.\r\n\tTime Commitment: MBA programmes require significant time investment, which might be challenging with pre-existing commitments.\r\n\tChanging Market Trends: The relevance of an MBA may vary with market demands. In some tech and startup environments, practical experience or specific skills might be more valued.\r\n\tPersonal Fulfilment: Apart from career benefits, you might want to pursue an MBA for personal growth and the challenge of mastering new areas of knowledge.