AACSB Accredited. 4 Concentrations. Earn an MBA Online with Pepperdine!Learn More
Complete in as few as 18 Months! 5-Week Accelerated Classes. No GMATLearn More
ACBSP Accredited and No GMAT Req'd. Graduate in as Little as 1 Year!Learn More
Choose from Management Info Systems, Marketing, & Finance for Your MBA at NJITLearn More
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. 
MBA degrees are not wholly prescriptive in terms of the specific careers they lead to, but common career paths include the following roles:
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.
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. 
MBA programs vary in the amount of time to completion, the experience level they cater to, and concentration option. These include:
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.
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.
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.
Top Ranked MBA now Online! AACSB - Choose from 5 tracks.Learn More
Customize Your MBA Degree with Four Unique Specialization Programs. Learn More.Learn More
Graduate In As Few As 22 Months. Top Ranked & AACSB Accredited. Learn More Now!Learn More
Pursue Your Healthcare MBA at GW. 100% Online & AACSB Accredited. Learn More!Learn More
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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:
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.
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.
Earn an MBA Online at Northeastern. GMAT waived with 5+ yrs experience.Learn More
Online. Accredited. Top-Ranked. No GMAT Required. Get Started TodayLearn More
Ranked Top value MBA in the US! AACSB Accredited, no GMAT req'd.Learn More
100% Online & AACSB Accredited. Award-Winning Faculty. Learn More!Learn More
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.  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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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.  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.  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. 
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. 
While it depends on the specific role, in most cases employers look favorably upon candidates with a graduate business education.  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. 
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. 
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. 
Key attributes to look for in an MBA degree include:
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. 
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. 
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:
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.”  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:
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 .
Not necessarily. Some universities offer GMAT waivers.  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.  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. 
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.  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.” 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.  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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.  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.