Online Master of Business Administration
Master of Business Administration (MBA) In Context

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree has been popular with American students since the early 1900s, providing a comprehensive mix of different business skills, with a large emphasis on strategy and management analysis.

The MBA is the most popular degree in the country, accounting for more than 25% of all graduate degrees awarded. [1]

Exploring the MBA program

For graduates who wish to begin, or continue, their career with a firm grasp on the strategic aspects of business such as finance and accounting, operational systems, marketing, and human resources, an MBA degree can be vital. MBA programs are important for career changers and students looking to expand their horizons into new industries. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, 39% of MBA alumni work in fields they never considered prior to beginning business school. [2]

Is the master's in business administration degree right for me?

MBA degrees are not wholly prescriptive in terms of the specific careers they lead to, but common career paths include the following roles:

  • Business development professional
  • Business owner/founder
  • Business analyst
  • Department head
  • Financial analyst
  • Management consultant
  • Marketing professional
  • Operations manager
  • Portfolio manager
  • Product manager
  • Program manager
  • Project manager

Paths to the MBA are as varied and diverse as the business topics the programs cover. Students who enroll in MBA programs must have a bachelor’s degree, whether in business administration or in different subjects.

MBA degrees are also attractive for those who are currently employed and wish to change careers or position themselves for advancement.

Why earn a master's in business administration degree?
The cross-functionality of the MBA degree — with fundamentals that could be applied to any industry internationally — is what makes it valuable. Many professionals with an MBA earn in excess of $100,000, making it a sound short- and long-term option. [3] For those who don’t come from a business background, an MBA offers solid business skills to add to their existing experience. In the 10-year period from 2014 to 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 600,000 business management job openings will be created, making this a great time to prepare. [28]

How do I choose an MBA degree program?

There are plenty of factors to consider when evaluating an MBA program. While the curriculum is wide-ranging, you should ensure that any specializations you want to cover are included.

Other important factors include:

  • Make sure the program is properly accredited. In the U.S., the main accrediting bodies are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), along with regional accreditation.
  • Check the program’s reputation or ranking
  • Ensure the program length and credit hours meet your needs. Many online programs can be completed in about two years, but time to completion varies depending on a number of factors.
  • Make sure you can afford the program
  • Search for alumni success stories

What is business administration?

Business administration is any role which requires the management of an organization from a strategic or analytical point of view. The degree’s coverage of a wide range of business operations aspects, along with its focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, and experiential learning gives you a solid business foundation that can help you pursue leadership roles in any enterprise.

What should a student pursuing this degree learn?

The learning outcomes of this degree include a broad understanding of both the analytical and functional elements of business, as well as business ethics and leadership strategies. This is achieved through studying theory and gaining real-world experience through case studies and other practical parts of the program.

Career outcomes of earning this degree stretch broadly across business management, and as noted in U.S. News & World Report, MBA graduates can find themselves working anywhere from Top 100 companies to nonprofit and government roles, law firms, human resources, and consulting. [4]

What are the different types of MBA programs?

MBA programs vary in the amount of time to completion, the experience level they cater to, and concentration option. These include:

Two-Year Full-Time

The two-year full-time MBA degree program typically takes 18-24 months to complete and is considered the standard MBA in the U.S. The number of credits varies from program to program, with some requiring about 36 and others requiring more than 60. Most programs tend to require about 42-48 credit hours. Students are typically encouraged to have some work experience already under their belt.

Accelerated MBA

For those eager to achieve the degree as soon as possible, some schools offer an accelerated program, which can deliver the MBA in as little as a year. This program offers a higher course load with less downtime and more intensive class and examination schedules. Accelerated programs usually cost less to enroll in than the two-year full-time option.

Executive MBA

The executive MBA (EMBA) program is designed for business professionals who are already mid-career and can be earned while working full-time. This type of program is ideal for students with significant experience who want to refresh their knowledge and pursue a boost in their careers.

MBA program concentrations

Some universities offer an MBA that focuses on a particular aspect of business. These may include:

  • Finance — May cover fiscal aspects of business including bonds, stocks, and accounting, as well as issues such as taking a company public.
  • Management — Typically covers the coordination, control, and improvement of business processes.
  • Marketing — Deals with marketing strategy across many industries and markets, and may cover aspects such as customer insights, e-commerce, and product marketing.
  • Strategy — May include management consulting, strategic planning, and business model innovations. This specialty can lead to some of the highest paying career paths of any MBA specialty degree.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) Career Advancement
The business world offers a plethora of opportunities at mid- to senior level in a range of positions which are constantly evolving in line with the industries they serve. Below is a sample list of possible career options for MBA graduates, along with expected average salary and any relevant licensure or certification information. Salaries are based on average starting salaries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ensuring beneficial financial strategies are put in place is essential for any business, and the MBA degree provides students with a foundation of knowledge in the areas of accounting, economics, and financial management. This may be augmented by taking electives focused on subjects such as corporate or international finance.

Average salary: $81,310 [12]

The ability to look at how a business is being managed and strategize to improve its performance is integral to the MBA degree. Management consultant firms are well paid for the projects they undertake on behalf of clients.

Average salary: $81,320 per year [13]

In the internet era, marketing is a crucial method of hitting target audiences for organizations with a public face. The vast majority of MBA degrees cover marketing to some extent, and there is a range of electives for subjects such as international marketing or service marketing and management that give students the chance to specialize.

Average salary: $131,180 [14]

Studying different systems of operation used by various organizations and learning about operations management prepare MBA graduates for roles such as operations manager. Related electives, such as operations and management science and supply chain management, are widely offered.

Average salary: $99,310 [15]

Companies are looking for business analysts who can take a holistic view of an organization’s operations and develop strategies to improve efficiency. Students may find a program which includes a business analysis or strategy concentration useful for this position. This career might also be attractive to EMBA students who wish to move from an existing role in another part of a business.

Average salary: $78,630 [16]

Many firms have a department dedicated to identifying potential new customers, and then converting them into new business. Those who enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspects of the MBA program, or selected a specialization based on business development or applied innovation, could be well equipped to pursue a path in business development.

Average salary: $113,860 [17]

Jobs that require an MBA

According to a study from the Graduate Management Admission Council, in 2016 88% of corporate recruiters planned to hire recent MBA graduates. [18] In fact, many professions typically require or prefer candidates to hold an MBA degree for even entry-level openings.

The MBA pay jump

MBA graduates can expect to earn at least 50% more after they have completed their MBA degree, according to research by the University of Rochester’s Ronald Yeaple published in 2014 in Forbes. [20]

While a bachelor’s degree is a valuable career starting point, the added benefits of an MBA degree cannot be ignored. According to research from Fortune, MBA graduates can expect to earn $45,000 more than BA graduates as a starting salary. [21]

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Curriculum

MBA programs typically comprise a set of core courses using a standard curriculum, along with elective courses that allow students to select a concentration or specialization.

The first year of standard two-year programs usually focuses on the core part of the curriculum, while the second year gives students the opportunity to pursue elective courses.Full-time programs sometimes include an internship.

MBA and EMBA programs tend to culminate in a capstone course that gives students a firsthand look at business strategy. A dissertation or large project of some sort is often required, and students are typically tasked with finding an organization to work with. Once embedded in the organization, students are commonly asked to address a real-world strategic challenge involving multiple concepts they have studied as part of the program. A thorough final examination may also mark the end of the MBA program.

MBA program structure

The MBA program, particularly in its first year, typically revolves around the core structure. Based on an analysis of 10 programs, courses often cover one or more of the following subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Operations
  • Statistics

MBA degree concentrations/specializations

Students can customize their degrees through concentrations or specializations. These focus areas are made up of different courses based on a certain subject and are in addition to the core courses.

Based on an analysis of 10 programs, concentrations can often be taken in the following areas:

  • Business management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Health Care
  • Leadership
  • Operations management

The MBA capstone

The MBA’s capstone course is a critical element that takes a holistic approach to a business’s administration and focuses on how it can gain a competitive edge in challenging marketplaces. It combines all the different sub-elements involved in business and examines how they are integrated to give a comprehensive look at business leadership and strategy. Some programs offer the capstone over a number of courses.

A program’s capstone project typically entails students being embedded with a host organization and applying the concepts they have learned to a real-life business challenge. Students are commonly tasked with providing tangible value to the host organization in the form of workable solutions and may be asked to deliver a presentation to senior figures at the host organization, monitored by representatives of the academic institution.

The MBA dissertation

When an MBA dissertation is required, it usually involves a discussion of literature, leading to a case study and submitting a solution that addresses a particular problem. This case study typically goes beyond merely examining existing studies and invites students to do their own tests and research related to a business theory or principle. EMBA students may be asked to undertake a major project instead of a dissertation. This might involve tackling a problem in their industry or even their own organization.

Work on research methodology is often required as a prerequisite to the dissertation or major project, giving candidates a firmer grasp of how to go about the task.

MBA program electives

Electives are an optional element of many MBA degrees.

Many programs endeavor to offer a great degree of flexibility, allowing students to swap core elements with elective elements to achieve a specific concentration or obtain a particular skill set. It is common for academic institutions to guide students in their choice of electives, with advisers helping students base a decision around their career plans.

Figures from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business show that 70% of MBA students take an elective as part of their program. [9] They are in addition to the core elements, which all students studying for the MBA are taught as part of the curriculum. Programs have a degree of flexibility when it comes to how much of the coursework is devoted to elective studies. While many programs have electives, some may not offer this element and concentrate solely on the core elements of the MBA degree.

Benefits of electives

Electives allow students to pursue areas of personal interest in addition to the core curriculum. If they already have a specific career path in mind, students can tailor their own study program to gain more experience in this area. If a student does not yet know which career path they wish to pursue, electives can open some possibilities.

Possible elective courses for an MBA degree

These general types of elective courses sometimes make up part of an MBA. The following subject areas are taken from a cross section of institutions and are intended to give an idea of the areas covered by typical electives:

    • Business or commercial law

      These classes provide students with an understanding of legal concepts which are vital to decision-making for commercial enterprises. Students learn to identify the legal issues that can come up at many points during the lifecycle of a business.

  • Entrepreneurship

    This area is all about innovation applied to business, and how unique or novel products and services can deliver great value. The course can cover finance mechanisms, business concepts, routes to market, and market segmentation. Students are challenged to build a business with the resources available to them, which are often non-material, such as energy, insight, and business contacts.

  • Information systems and technology

    These types of electives prepare students for the digital information age by giving them insight into information systems and technology operations. Coursework is dedicated to providing an advanced understanding of the skills needed for IS and IT.

  • International business

    Students taking electives focusing on international business are prepared for the global business community, covering the financial and economic complexities of doing business with other countries, as well as management considerations.

  • Investing

    From real estate investing to private equity and investment management, there are a large number of electives that look at the strategies behind investing, as well as some of the specific markets available.

  • Launching new ventures/products

    These types of electives teach students about identifying and exploiting business opportunities, and considerations which might be relevant on the road to launching a new product, such as acquiring funding and commencing operations.

  • Market research

    These electives look at how market research can be applied as a part of business strategy and can represent a vital part of the planning stages before bringing a product or service to market.

  • Project management

    Useful in a number of fields, problem-solving and leadership are two of the key elements in project management. Today’s business climate asks employees to implement business plans in time-pressured circumstances, and these type of courses encourage students to think strategically in realistic scenarios.

Experiential learning, internships and field placement

This decade has seen a huge range of colleges and business schools shift their management education program, including MBA curriculum, in a much more experiential direction. [10] Students can benefit enormously from hands-on experience, which also helps consolidate what they’ve learned of business strategy and theory.

With residencies, internships, or field placements, each MBA degree has its own method of injecting an experiential edge.


Some programs will require students to gain real-world experience by partaking in a residency. With a residency, students may be asked to attend seminars, participate in projects, or spend an extended amount of time in live business settings. Residencies can serve as great networking opportunities in addition to giving students perspective on careers in the business world.

Field placements

While traditionally these experiential elements have taken place in the second year, with class-based learning taking precedence in the first year, some institutions have sought to give the first 12 months of the MBA an experiential element. They split classes into teams and place them in real-life business scenarios, giving students opportunities to work on their leadership skills and test the practicality of their ideas.

Field placements such as these are devised by the institutions themselves, and typically involve teams of students placed within commercial or nonprofit organizations


Internships are a long-established fixture in MBA programs across the country. They allow students to be embedded with businesses, testing their grasp of the business management strategies they have studied in the first year. Internships are usually 8 to 12 weeks in duration, and the length can depend on if it is part of a structured program offered by an organization, or is more of an ad-hoc project with no predefined boundaries. MBA internships typically take place over the summer, and institutions can specify a minimum number of hours per week they expect students to be on site.

Employers appoint a supervisor to each intern who will focus on guiding, mentoring, and monitoring the individual during their time with the organization.

What are the benefits of experiential elements?

Experiential learning is becoming a crucial aspect of MBA programs and the way they offer value to students. Studies suggest that to stay relevant, business schools must shift their curricula to focus more on developing capabilities and skills that prepare graduates for the workplace. [11]

Experiential courses within the MBA degree not only offer students a degree of realism they cannot attain in the classroom, but they also present job opportunities, as often students who have impressed during their time with an organization are hired once they have achieved their MBA.


The way MBA degrees are structured varies according to the school offering the program.

In general, courses based on the core curriculum areas — such as finance and accounting, operational systems, marketing, and human resources — are taken in the first year, with electives or concentration subjects having more prominence in the second.

Core courses comprise well over 50% of coursework for some programs, but under 33% for others. [23]

Cohort programs

In contrast to a carousel program, students in a cohort program start the program together and are in the same group for the duration, finishing their degree together. Groups typically number anywhere from 18 to 30. Advantages to these programs are the shared learning experience, opportunities for collaboration, and camaraderie students can enjoy.

How can a Master of Business Administration benefit you?
Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree 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.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Admissions Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study
Few other formal business degrees are as universally accepted by employers as an MBA degree. However, there are some viable alternatives to business education.

This covers some of the same subjects as the MBA, but is tailored more for recent graduates than seasoned professionals, and has more of an emphasis on management, as opposed to business administration management.

This degree is a viable alternative for students who are interested more in the leadership aspect of business, rather than the various business elements such as finance and marketing. Courses typically offer more of an emphasis on people management, with a focus on elements such as philosophy and psychology.

Larger organizations run these programs to fast-track promising junior employees into senior management positions. They often include work experience in different departments, in the same way in which an MBA exposes students to different areas of a business.

For employees seeking to move into certain other areas, there are specific certifications which they can work toward, e.g. Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Financial Analyst, or Certified Management Accountant.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Accreditation
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality. Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning. You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Most institutions offering MBA programs are accredited by one of the following three organizations:

  • AACSB: Most business schools offering MBA programs in the U.S. are AACSB accredited — 780 in total in 53 countries across the world.
  • ACBSP: A global accrediting body which accredits business programs at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degree levels.
  • IACBE: A leading accrediting organization for a number of business and finance-related programs in higher education institutions all over the world.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) Licensure and Certification

Unlike other fields, such as health care and teaching, a formal license or certificate is not typically required to take up a management position within a commercial enterprise. However, a degree signifying a student’s completion of an MBA or EMBA is almost universally accepted as equipping the individuals with the fundamentals of business strategy and analysis, and in many cases will go a long way to qualifying them for a particular role.

Additional certificates can be achieved as part of an MBA program for the various electives or concentrations many MBA degrees offer, and these can serve as an important qualification for graduates who wish to pursue a specialization in the job market.

In some echelons of the business world, usually regulated industries such as finance, licensure and certification are required for roles such as an accountant or insurance underwriter.

History and evolution of the MBA degree

As the business world has developed, management processes have become more refined. Businesses seek to become more efficient and can benefit from the many elements the MBA covers, such as finance and accounting, operational systems, marketing, and human resources. An MBA degree equips graduates to take a holistic view of a business, empowered by the knowledge of its different parts.

The earliest MBA degrees coincided with the period of industrialization in the early 20th century. Colleges were under pressure to deliver programs which offered more hands-on management techniques that aligned with the revolution in manufacturing. [27]

Early MBA programs included a focus on areas such as accounting, business strategy, economics, finance, manufacturing, and production. But in the 1950s, these programs were thought to be outdated, and business schools reorganized to make them relevant to post-war business practices.

Today, MBA degrees are again being remodeled to take into account the huge changes the era of digitalization has brought upon the business world.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Tuition and Fees
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships. For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Grants and scholarships

Students are advised to assess their business school’s options when it comes to grants and scholarships before they consider taking out an interest-based loan. In many cases, students will be automatically considered for scholarships when accepted to an institution as part of their application process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a professional degree designed to enhance your skills across a wide array of business-related functional areas. Most MBA programs include courses that cover the fundamentals of quantitative business analysis topics, including finance, accounting, operations, and logistics, as well as broader qualitative organizational topics, including leadership, management, organizational behavior, and strategy. [29] Many MBA programs also place an emphasis on ethical business practices, and teach subjects relating to business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

No. Unlike other niche master’s programs, MBAs appeal to a wide variety of individuals who seek to increase their knowledge of the broader operations of business. [30] A recent survey of MBA graduates revealed that the top three reasons most individuals elect to study an MBA are to increase their personal development, advance their knowledge and skills, and help improve their chances of a salary increase. [31]

Because MBAs appeal to a wide variety of people, the career growth of individual graduates is dependent on a number of factors. That said, the 2016 GMAC Alumni Prospective survey found that 73% of recent MBA graduates found their degree provided them with faster career advancement. [31]

While it depends on the specific role, in most cases employers look favorably upon candidates with a graduate business education. [32] Employers tend to view MBA candidates as having a good grasp on management, leadership, and strategy skills, and value the critical thinking and analysis experience MBA graduates possess.

Yes. Because the degree appeals to a wide group of individuals across most occupational disciplines, MBAs remain one of the most popular and recognizable degrees in the U.S. [33]

Most individuals who consider attaining graduate business education want to ensure their return on investment is positive. According to GMAC, most MBA graduates recoup the cost of their MBA in less than four years after graduation. [31]

No. Because MBAs are professional degrees, MBA candidates come from a wide array of undergraduate programs and disciplines. MBA candidates who don’t have an undergraduate degree in business will also find that most MBA programs offer foundation or prerequisite courses that help prepare you. [34]

Key attributes to look for in an MBA degree include:

  • Accreditation: What accreditation(s) does the program and business school hold?
  • Support Network: What support systems are in place to keep you connected with fellow students and faculty?
  • Delivery Method: How flexible is the program, and is it fully online, on-campus, or a hybrid?
  • Learning Experiences: Will the program offer real-world business experiences?
  • Affordability: Can I afford the program?
  • On-Campus Requirements: Are there any requirements for me to attend on-campus workshops or sessions?
  • Reputation: Does the school and program have a good reputation and ranking?
  • Faculty Experience: Are there faculty with a broad array of experience across multiple business disciplines?
  • Specializations/Concentrations Offered: What specializations or concentrations are offered in the program?

Most online MBAs are part time. The appeal of part-time study in an online delivery format allows those working full or part time to study while maintaining their career.

Most online MBA programs are two years in length. The time it takes to complete a program will depend on the number of courses you enroll in for each term. Most MBA programs do allow flexibility with your curriculum load, meaning you can take longer to complete the degree if necessary.

According to GMAC, 93% of recent MBA graduates say they would pursue an MBA again if given the choice, and 4 in 5 graduates are satisfied their graduate education met their investment expectations. [31]

While MBA candidates come from a wide array of backgrounds, the top industries represented by MBA students today include products and services, finance, accounting, and technology. [31]

Many MBA programs offer you the ability to specialize based on your interests. Specializations vary between programs, so it’s important to find a program that has a specialty in your area of interest. Programs that don’t offer specializations may grant you the ability to select electives that will help you focus your learning in an area of interest.

The subject offerings and course curriculum taught in an online MBA program should not differ from an institution’s on-campus MBA. The main difference between the two delivery formats will be in the way you interact with your faculty and fellow students, and how you complete your courses.

Some MBA programs do require you to have a certain level of knowledge of specific foundational business topics and will require you to undertake prerequisite courses before being granted admission. Many of these programs offer guidance on how and where to take these prerequisite courses. These prerequisites help ensure that every student enters the MBA program having foundational knowledge of core business disciplines, including accounting, finance, marketing, management, and statistics.

Most MBA programs teach a combination of the following core subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Information systems
  • Leadership and management
  • Marketing
  • Statistics
  • Strategy

When choosing an MBA, look for a curriculum that covers the core subjects mentioned above, along with any specialty subjects that may be of interest to you. Your MBA should provide you with an advanced level of knowledge in qualitative business concepts, like finance and accounting, while also helping to develop your leadership, management, and interpersonal skills.

All AACSB-accredited MBA programs are required to identify program-level learning goals for their students. According to the AACSB, these learning goals aim to “reflect the major intellectual and behavioral competencies a program intends to instill in its students due to the total educational experience across a given program.” [37] Each MBA program will therefore have a unique set of learning goals, and these tend to be aligned to the objectives of the institution offering the degree.

Examples of MBA learning goals include wanting students to understand the importance of ethical business behavior in their professional lives; wanting students to have a global perspective of business; and wanting students to have exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. When you are choosing a business school for your MBA, be sure to ask your guidance counselor what the learning goals and objectives are for their students.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

When researching your MBA, be sure to find out whether the the coursework is offered in a asynchronous or synchronous structure, and make sure this learning format meets your requirements and needs.

A number of universities include a trip abroad as part of their curriculum. These sponsored trips are usually offered as electives, and aim to fit a course or partial course into the span of one to two weeks. Many universities also collaborate with companies that operate overseas, and ask students to solve real business problems for these companies as part of the assessment.

A general MBA aims to provide a well-rounded learning experience across a wide spectrum of foundational business disciplines. General MBAs tend to focus on enhancing your understanding of the common functional areas within most businesses, and allows you to graduate with a wide understanding of how businesses operate.

An MBA with a specialization allows you to dive into a niche area of interest, and encourages you to thoroughly explore and examine the latest concepts of the concentration. While you will still receive a grounding in the core functional areas of business, you’ll invest more time and study focusing on the specific subject matter in an MBA with a specialization than a general MBA.

There are a wide variety of MBA specializations available. The most common specializations include:

  • Business Analytics
  • Consulting
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Executive Management
  • Finance
  • Health Care
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology
  • International Business
  • Logistics/Supply Chain Management
  • Marketing
  • Strategy

Your choice of specialization should be determined based on your needs, interests, and career goals. While students may often select a concentration based on their current experience, it is not uncommon for individuals to identify knowledge gaps that they wish to fill by focusing their MBA in a specific area. This is especially the case with an executive management or leadership concentration, whereby the student may already have a specific area of business interest, but may want to hone interpersonal and management skills while pursuing an MBA.

No. Most concentration offerings within an MBA program are the same length, and allow you to complete your MBA with your original cohort.

No. Most MBA programs don’t require you to select your concentration until program has commenced. Even then, you may not have to select your concentration until well into the program, as you’ll generally cover the foundational core business courses at the beginning of your program before diving into your chosen concentration specific courses.

It is not uncommon for online MBAs to have an on-campus residency requirement at some point during the program. The on-campus requirements are often mandatory, and are generally run over a weekend or for a full week. When researching an MBA, it’s important to find out whether the program has a mandatory on-campus residency requirement and when in the program you would be required to attend.

On-campus residencies allow you to meet your fellow students and faculty face-to-face, and give you the opportunity to build a rapport with the individuals you may have only ever conversed with online or via phone. This can certainly be an advantage for any future coursework you do with your classmates, as well as help solidify the networks and connections you make during your graduate business education.

This depends on the school and the program. Many online MBAs with these on-campus requirements tend to include certain aspects of the residency within the course fees, such as accommodation and meals. However, you may be required to cover the costs of your travel. It is important to find out the full details of the on-campus requirements, including the cost components, during your research phase.

Yes. You will need an undergraduate degree from an accredited university to apply for an MBA.

As MBAs are broad, professional degrees, they appeal to a wide variety of individuals with educationally diverse backgrounds. Most universities tend to encourage a mix of students from a cross-section of industry and occupational disciplines, as this allows for more interesting class and group work discussions. No matter what your undergraduate degree is, if you are interested in pursuing an MBA, don’t let the discipline of your bachelor’s degree deter you from inquiring and applying to the school of your choice.

You will need to provide the university you are applying to with a full set of transcripts, and in some cases, the graduate school may also require a copy of all transcripts from education you have undertaken in the past, regardless of whether you completed the program or not. Be sure to confirm what the exact admission requirements are with your guidance counselor.

While this differs from program to program, you will often find the application requirements for MBA candidates include a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Don’t despair if your GPA score sits slightly below the requested requirements though, as university admission officers tend to take a holistic approach to MBA applications. Having strong work experience, a vast educational background,or a high GMAT score could help improve your chances of being admitted into the MBA program of your choice.

Yes. Work experience is often incorporated into your application and taken into consideration by an admissions officer. Some programs stipulate a minimum level of work experience required before you can apply. Be sure to research and review the work experience requirements of the school you are interested in to determine if you are qualified.

Some MBA programs require you to complete the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) prior to applying. The results of the test, which is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), give universities an indication of your proficiencies in quantitative math, verbal, reasoning, and writing skills. For more information on the GMAT test, visit the official GMAT website [19].

Not necessarily. Some universities offer GMAT waivers. [24] Instead they may ask for an essay or a letter of intent, letters of recommendation, a copy of your resume, and perhaps an interview with an admissions officer or faculty member. [29] When universities offer GMAT waiver alternatives, they evaluate each application on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to read the application requirements carefully and adhere to them. [26]

Yes. Most business schools will require you to pay a fee when submitting an application for their MBA program. These fees are generally between $40 and $100.

While you cannot guarantee career success with a postgraduate degree, an MBA aims to help prepare you for leadership and management roles within your chosen career field. [22] A recent GMAC survey of 14,279alumni from 275 graduate business programs nationally found that “3 in 4 alumni (73%) say their degree provided them with faster career advancement.” [31]

Your salary after graduation will depend upon a number of factors, including your work experience and occupation. For mid-level management occupations, MBA graduates earn a median salary of $105,000. [31]

MBAs are designed for both company-employed and self-employed individuals. Currently, 10% of MBA graduates in the U.S. are self-employed or operate a business of less than 100 employees. [31]

A recent survey of corporate recruiters found that 88% of corporate recruiters working with graduate business schools plan to hire recent MBA graduates in 2016. [31]

No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

While this will depend on your course load and familiarity with the subject, most MBA students typically spend anywhere from 10-20 hours studying each week.

Most online MBA programs can be completed in as few as 24 to 36 months.

This will vary by university, but most programs stipulate you must enroll in two subjects per semester. Be sure to discuss the course load requirements with your guidance counselor prior to applying to ensure the program meets your schedule requirements.

Each university will have its own Learning Management System that will enable you to communicate with your fellow students and faculty. [7] These systems generally allow you to chat or send messages direct to classmates and faculty, store and distribute course materials, and submitting, collect, and review your graded assignments.

This will vary from university to university. If you would like to transfer creditsto your MBA from previous study, be sure to discuss the details directly with your guidance counselor before applying.

MBA tuition varies greatly from university to university. Among a sample of AACSB-accredited online MBAs, the average cost of tuition was found to be between $32,000 to $64,000. It is not uncommon, however, for top-tier institutions and business schools to charge in excess of $100,000 for their MBA programs.

Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office is the largest provider of student financial aid in the country. To find out whether you are eligible to apply for Federal Student Aid for your MBA, visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. [8]

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. [35]

Certain individuals who meet the qualifying criteria may be eligible for the federal government’s Loan Forgiveness program. Find out more through the Federal Student Aid office. [6]

While there are several accreditation bodies for master’s-level business programs, it is generally accepted that the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is of the highest caliber due to it strict requirements and rigorous review process for entry. [38]

Yes, but with good reason. The full AACSB-accreditation process is lengthy, and requires business schools to invest time and resources into maintaining the specifications required for accreditation. As such, these schools will pass their costs onto students through tuition, and hence there is an inherent price difference between AACSB-accredited programs and non-AACSB-accredited programs.

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [39]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.

While the MBA is the most popular business school master’s degree program in the U.S., there are a number of other graduate programs available that may suit your management, leadership, and business interests. [33] These include a Master of Engineering Management for engineers, a Master of Finance or a Master of Financial Economics for finance professionals, a Master of Health Administration for health care professionals, or a Master of Public Administration for those working in government or the nonprofit sector.