According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, recipients of an MBA degree are, now more than ever, in high demand. As employment rates fall, job prospects for business school graduates with an MBA are growing. The median starting salary here is approximately €109,000. Some fields even require an MBA degree to enter, including hedge funds, private equity firms, and strategic planning.
But what exactly is an MBA, and what can you do with it?
What is an MBA?
MBA is short for Master of Business Administration. It’s the original business graduate degree, first introduced by Harvard Business School in 1908.
Nowadays, the program is offered globally in both colleges and universities, and lasts two years. However, there is a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and certain selection criteria that need to be met to get admitted into the program.
As one of the world’s most popular graduate management degrees, the MBA offers many classes in fundamental management knowledge. It teaches all kinds of theoretical and practical information in marketing, finance, business law and accounting. This, in turn, will help you boost your career by building your business knowledge and expanding your professional network.
There are many jobs you can land with an MBA, some of the most sought-after right now, are:
- Business Operations Manager
- Financial Manager
- Human Resources Manager
- Information technology (IT) Manager
- Management Consultant
- Marketing Manager
- Medical & Health Services Manager
Most of these rank as one of the highest in the U.S. News Best Jobs rankings, excelling in salaries and measurements of a work-life-balance.
Types of MBA Programs
Both universities and business schools offer a diverse range of MBA programs specialising in various aspects. Additionally, these are the formats of said programs to choose from.
For business school alumni looking for a big career advancement and the possibility to fully devote themselves to studying.
This program usually lasts two years, though the US now offers special, accelerated one-year programs. However, European and UK universities typically have one-year full-time programs only, with the addition of consulting projects instead of internships.
For students who need more flexible programs, because of work and other related issues.
These programs can last anywhere from two to seven years, or more, depending on the individual student, and can even be attended during weekends and weeknights.
For experienced professionals who have already acquired seven to ten years of work experience and leadership knowledge.
Executive programs only last one to two years and offer weekend and evening classes, and modular scheduling options.
Online programs are the best fit for students who require very flexible, part-time courses to pursue their degrees.
It’s equivalent to the in-person degrees. and doesn’t get indicated as being acquired online. Typically these programs take three to four years and offer synchronous online-classes. There are, of course, asynchronous classes that need to be finished in self-study. Some schools offer periodic residencies and scheduled, weekly online-discussions. To build community, students must attend with the use of a webcam.
For those who want a hybrid format of a part-time program combined with the occasional online classes, the blended program is the best option.
These are especially targeted at professionals with busy schedules who wish to study. The Blended program, also often referred to as “the best of both worlds”, helps students develop their soft skills as part of a cohort.
The 5 Most in Demand MBA Specialisations
If you’re unsure what specialisation you want to apply for, this is for you. Below, we’ll list the current most popular ones for business students in the MBA program.
Despite all the specialisations, the classic MBA General Management program still holds its position as one of the most popular. As the name suggests, here you will learn all kinds of skills in the management field, with insights into business, finance, marketing, human resources and UX.
If you’re planning to work abroad or in a global company with offices in different locations, this is the degree specialisation for you. This is a great for an all-around across-border solution. Everything you learn, e.g. finance, strategy, operations etc., is set in an international context. This is to prepare you for post-graduation.
IT & Technology Management
Here you will be prepared to work in the technology sector or business that relies on the analysis of collected data and product development based on it. You’ll have courses on UX, design and the flow of information technology. As an IT Manager, you’ll also learn how data is managed within companies, internally and externally. After graduating this degree, you can become a leader in the IT industry, with management and leadership skills focused on information technology.
This is an MBA program that offers insights into business development and planning, consulting, and risk management. At first this might appear more of a skill than a specialisation, but it offers a wide variety of information that you will find very applicable in your career choices. Graduating with Strategy as your MBA specialisation will teach you a skill set that is universal across industries. You’ll be able to apply for all kinds of roles, e.g. Project Manager and Senior Product Manager, that are especially in demand right now with the use of social media.
Another more popular specialisation in MBA is Marketing. Here you will be taught how to promote products and services. Skills you’ll acquire here are marketing research, new product development, design, management of executive marketing campaigns and customer communication. If you choose this program, you can work in Brand Marketing Management, or as Chief Brand Officer, and other directions that rely on product promotion and services.
The Pros and Cons of an MBA Degree
As mentioned before, graduating with an MBA offers many successful career choices with a high salary, but it doesn’t entail a free pass to finding success fast.
Instead, you will have to put in a lot of work getting the degree and even after acquiring it. It’s not as easy as it may sound, and the stakes are much higher than they used to be. Additionally, the way you’ve acquired your degree can also be under scrutiny. Most of the big companies expect that you earn your degree from a top-tier school.
Despite that, one of the MBA’s greatest values is in the access to the alumni network and the community you’re able to forge with classmates and faculty. They serve as an active source of personal and professional support, relationships, and connections that can be life-changing, according to Nirav Mehta, the senior associate director for MBA admissions at USC. Through these connections alone, you’ll find a fast transition into your career after graduation, and long after that.
Most memorable, however, are the skills you’ll learn in these programs. Unlike the theoretical knowledge most degrees provide, here you’ll excel in real-world professional experiences that will already put you ahead of others. The degree involves a wide spectrum of business-related knowledge centred around management, including accounting, statistics, communications, economics and even entrepreneurship.
Listing these specialisations will at least guarantee a job interview and improve your CV with experiences and knowledge you have acquired through it. Of course, whether you’ll get hired will entirely depend on you and your ability to stand out.
This also means that you don’t necessarily need to apply for a job in another company after receiving your degree. You could go the route of entrepreneurship as well and start your own business. The knowledge you’ve gained will certainly prove to be useful in the position of founder, and the connections you’ve acquired will boost your progress and help you find footing.