Everything You Need To Know About MBAs – An FAQ

Written by Katy Mcwhirter
Published on February 2, 2023 · Updated on March 23, 2023

Everything You Need To Know About MBAs – An FAQ

Written by Katy Mcwhirter
Published on February 2, 2023 · Updated on March 23, 2023

Have you ever wondered what exactly an MBA is or if you should get an MBA to help your career? Do you have any, or maybe a million, burning questions around MBAs? If so, we have a full MBA FAQ here to help you really understand all things MBA.

General MBA Questions

How is an MBA Different Than a Traditional Master’s Degree?

Unlike M.A., M.S., and other graduate-level programs that offer studies in a wide range of academic and professional disciplines, MBAs focus exclusively on business skills development and usage. While MBAs frequently provide a spectrum of specializations to help students focus their studies, all are based on business topics, like:

  • International business
  • Marketing
  • Human relations
  • Many more…

What Types of MBAs Are Offered?

As you look at the variety of MBA programs available, you will soon notice some schools also offer EMBAs, or Executive MBAs. Most MBA programs look for candidates with at least 3-5 years of professional experience, while EMBA programs focus on candidates with at least 10 years of experience. 

By differentiating between the two, students can be grouped in similar cohorts where their knowledge and experience are better matched to allow for more even real-world examples. Some schools may also provide dual degree programs, such as joint MBA/MPH or MBA/JD pathways.

Other variants include one or two-year MBAs, part-time MBAs, and online MBAs. If you’re looking for more options, we have a more comprehensive guide to the different types.

Which Types of Jobs Require an MBA?

Many jobs now require professionals with an MBA, as completing these programs ensures candidates possess the advanced, specialized knowledge needed to lead and transform different types of businesses and departments. MBAs also signal a commitment to continuing education and a desire to focus your knowledge in a particular discipline. 

Positions often requiring an MBA can include the following jobs:

  • Financial directors
  • Human resource managers
  • International business directors
  • Supply chain managers
  • Many C-level positions also require candidates to hold an MBA

What Are The Disadvantages of Getting an MBA?

While few disadvantages exist when considering the question of whether or not to get an MBA, students do need to make sure they’re prepared for the financial responsibility and time commitment. A recent survey found that the average cost to attend a top-25 MBA program reached $195,416 as of 2020, with few students securing the type of scholarships needed to make a substantial dent.

You’ll also need to consider how long it takes to get an MBA. Students who can commit to a full-time program usually need two years to graduate, while part-time learners typically spend three years in school.

Is 40 Too Old To Get an MBA?

If you’re already 40 and considering an MBA, you may worry that it’s too late to go back to school. In the world of MBAs, however, 40 is a perfectly acceptable age! In fact, a report in the Chicago Tribune stated that approximately 31% of all incoming EMBA students are 40 years old or older. 

While it remains a personal decision that should be considered against factors such as career outcome, personal and professional obligations, and financial and time commitments, you won’t be out of place if you decide to pursue an MBA at age 40 — or above.

Is an MBA Difficult For The Average Student?

If you’re considering an MBA, be under no illusions that it will be an easy path. MBA programs are designed to test and stretch students in both their knowledge and ability to learn quickly. Students are also expected to work well with others in team projects, demonstrate professionalism when interacting with “clients,” and demonstrate an understanding of business topics beyond that of an undergraduate student.

That said, MBA programs aren’t designed for students to fail. Moments of difficulty are woven into the curriculum to help students build self-confidence and an understanding of how to deal with and thrive in pressure-filled environments. The average student who stays focused and resolved should be able to graduate with a respectable GPA.

Should I Get An MBA?

Ultimately, only you can answer this question. Whether or not you should get an MBA depends on the job you aspire to hold. There are many positions in business and related fields that require only a bachelor’s degree. If you decide to pursue an MBA, it should be because you need one to qualify for the job you want. 

MBA Timeline Questions

How Long Does an MBA Take to Finish?

How long it takes to finish your MBA depends on several factors. First things first, you should consider how much time you can devote to your studies. Many students work towards their MBA while also working full-time, leaving them limited time to attend classes and complete assignments. Others decide to put work on hold for a time so they can graduate more quickly.

You must also consider the program options offered by prospective schools. Most full-time MBA programs take two years to complete all the degree requirements, while part-time programs usually take about three years. Some colleges now provide accelerated MBAs for particularly motivated learners, which can take anywhere from 10-18 months.

How Long Should I Work Before Getting My MBA?

Because MBA programs rely on students bringing existing experience into their cohorts, few accept applications from learners who only just finished their undergraduate studies. The vast majority of accepted degree candidates for traditional MBAs have between 3-5 years of relevant experience by the time they apply. 

If considering an Executive MBA, you will need closer to 10 years of professional experience on your resume. So get out there and test the corporate waters to gain some experience before you dive headfirst into your MBA studies.

At What Point In My Career Should I Start My MBA?

The answer to this question is often a mix of personal and professional considerations. While most schools look for candidates with at least a few years of professional business experience, sometimes life can dictate when to pursue advanced education. That said, from an admissions standpoint, you can pursue an MBA at any point in your career after 3-5 years of work experience.

MBA Financial Questions

How much does an MBA cost?

The cost of an MBA can vary dramatically based on where you attend and how much funding you secure in the form of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and other awards that do not require repayment. According to a 2021 Bankrate article, MBA program costs can range between $55,727 and $161,810. Some of the top 25 programs have now crested $200,000 in total. 

Students looking to complete their degree in a cost-effective way often decide to pursue a public school in their place of residence to take advantage of in-state tuition.

How Much Does an MBA Increase Your Salary?

Many students decide to pursue an MBA because they know it can help improve their chances of securing a job with higher pay. In an article provided by The College of William & Mary, reports found that MBA graduates earned median salaries of approximately $115,000 as of 2019 — more than twice the amount earned by those with Bachelor’s in Business Administration. In total, the report found that the return on investment can be as high as $20,000 per year in salary and other compensation factors.

Factors that can affect your salary include how much experience you possess, where you completed your MBA, the type of company you work at, and where you live. Here’s our 2022 list of the highest paying states for MBA grads to see if you’re in the right place or could consider relocating.

Which MBA Has the Highest Salary?

While completing an MBA — nearly any MBA — can help boost your salary prospects, not all MBAs are created equally. Students who gain entrance to top-tier programs regularly outpace their counterparts who attended lesser-known or respected programs.

According to U.S. News & World Report, graduates who earn their MBA at Stanford University earn the highest salaries and bonuses of 2020, totaling more than $176,000 per year. Meanwhile, a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers projects that the average starting salary for 2021 graduates would be $87,966.

Is The MBA Losing Its Value?

It depends on who you ask. While the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Mark Cuban have strong opinions about bypassing the MBA in favor of hard work and innovation, others still see the MBA as a traditional pathway to business success and leadership opportunities. 

That said, enrollment data from the last couple of years does show a waning interest from some students. In a study conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), MBA applications fell by 7% between 2017 and 2018, with seven out of every 10 MBA programs reporting fewer applications. So if you’re interested in pursuing your MBA, it looks like you may have less competition when applying.

Simply put, it depends on where you want to take your career and what it takes to get there. For many, an MBA is still well worth the cost and time commitment required.

Interview with an MBA Graduate

David Reischer graduated from business school in 2000 with a joint MBA/JD degree from Brooklyn Law School and Zicklin School of Business. He has been a practicing attorney in New York State with specializations in Internet startups, business transactions, real estate transactions, and other general practice and trial litigation for over 16 years. He has litigated matters in NY Civil and NY Supreme Court in both the commercial and civil divisions. In 2012, he launched LegalAdvice.com, which offers legal advice online to people seeking legal help over the Internet.

At what point in my career should I start an MBA?

I think a person would be better off getting an MBA after they have established a few years into their career. Acquiring an MBA at too young an age can ‘typecast’ a person without any actual skills and then make it more difficult to attain a job.

Is an MBA difficult for the average student?

An MBA program may be difficult depending upon the school of attendance and the subject matter specialization. MBA majors in accounting and finance may have a more challenging time than students that specialize in human resource management. Regardless, even the least competitive major with an MBA program will require some degree of time and dedication to learn the material.

How much can an MBA increase your salary?

The amount of money that an MBA can increase a person’s salary can be significant. I have seen that an MBA has increased a person’s salary by as much as 30%-40%. A person that has an MBA really has a much more holistic understanding of business imperatives and can multitask much more efficiently.

What are the disadvantages of getting an MBA?

The disadvantages of getting an MBA are several-fold. 

  1. First, the amount of time and effort it takes to acquire an MBA is not insubstantial. Most MBA programs are three-year programs and require the student to dedicate serious efforts to learning the material. 
  2. Second, the amount of money it costs to attend an MBA program is not inconsiderate. Most reputable MBA programs can cost 6 figures, and some students may need to take out student loans to attend.
  3. Finally, the value of an MBA program may be called into question when looking for a job. Some hiring managers view an MBA as an indication that the person is overqualified for entry level jobs. A person with an MBA may be skipped over as having inadequate actual experience and too much of a “know it all”.


  • What kind of jobs require an MBA?
    • There are many jobs that require either an MBA or several years of corporate experience. Here is a sample list of careers that often require an MBA:
      1. Financial directors
      2. Human resource managers
      3. International business directors
      4. Supply chain managers
      5. Many C-level positions also require candidates to hold an MBA
  • What are the pros of getting an MBA?
    • Getting your MBA can help you get ahead in your career, earn a new and better career, and increase your salary. You can also meet and network with other business professionals.
  • What are the cons of getting an MBA?
    • Earning an MBA has some benefits for your career, but it is also very time-consuming and can cost a lot of money, depending on the school you attend. A recent Bankrate study shows that MBA program costs can range between $55,727 and $161,810.
  • How old is too old to go back for my MBA?
    • You can go back to get your MBA at any age! A study from the Chicago Tribune states that 31% of all incoming MBA students are over the age of 40.
  • How much more will I make with an MBA?
    • A recent study from the College of William and Mary showed that the return on investment for an MBA can be as high as $20,000 per year when you include salary and other compensation benefits.


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