Completing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can help graduates earn approximately 75% more than their counterparts with only a bachelor’s degree, making it a great pathway for those who want to command substantial salaries. Completing this advanced degree also provides the skills and qualifications required to take on advanced positions.
Whether you’re eyeing an accelerated one-year program or feel an executive MBA best serves your needs, this guide provides practical, concrete information to help you find the right program. Keep reading to learn about the different types of MBA programs, available specializations, and benefits of online master’s in business administration programs.
What To Know About MBA Degrees
Also known as a master’s in business administration degree, MBAs cover cutting-edge business topics while preparing learners to act as leaders in their chosen field. In addition to a core curriculum that covers topics such as financial management, organizational leadership, accounting and statistics, and ethical decision-making, nearly every school also offers a plethora of specializations to help students focus on niche areas of various disciplines.
As you review this guide, consider both which type of MBA program matches with where you are in your career and which specialization will provide the training needed to qualify for your ideal job.
5 Different Types Of MBA Program
As prospective students interested in MBA programs begin looking at their options, they will soon realize that many schools offer several different types of degrees tailored to scheduling and experience levels. We look at the five most common types in this section.
1-Year MBA Programs
Designed as an accelerated option for students who want to move through the program quickly, 12-month MBAs are known to be intense and leave little room for anything else in a student’s life. Undergraduate business students commonly move directly into these programs, deciding to complete their MBA before entering the workforce full-time.
2-Year MBA Programs
Considered a traditional MBA by some, the two-year MBA covers the same material as a one-year MBA, but at a slower pace. These two-year programs provide the space students need to keep up with outside commitment while earning their degrees.
Part-Time MBA Programs
Designed for busy professionals who cannot devote the amount of time required for full-time MBA programs, part-time options provide more time to take care of personal and professional responsibilities outside schoolwork. These types of MBAs typically take three years to complete.
Online MBA Programs
Online MBAs provide the most flexibility of all the different MBA pathways, allowing learners to complete requirements from the comfort of their homes rather than traveling to campus multiple times per week. While students may still need to participate in several location-based intensives, they can complete the majority of the program from a home base.
Executive MBA Programs
Also known as an EMBA, the executive MBA program supports professionals who are further along in their business careers. Most applicants possess about 7-10 years of experience, allowing coursework to cover more advanced, nuanced topics. Most EMBAs are offered on a part-time basis.
What Are The Best MBA Specializations?
MBAs provide incredible flexibility given the wide variety of specializations available. Whether you’re drawn to studies in accounting or homeland security, healthcare management or innovation management, plenty of options exist to help you make a nuanced decision. Some of the specializations you may come across while reviewing prospective schools include:
- Business Management
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- International Business
- Operations Management
- Risk Management
- Social Entrepreneurship
- Sports Management
- Supply Chain Management/Logistics
Which specialization is the “best” varies from student to student, so pick the one that works best for you and your professional aspirations.
Which MBA Has The Highest Salary?
Salaries for MBA graduates can vary based on several factors, including geography, type of company, and level of experience. That said, certain MBA specializations can lead to higher median annual wages than others, as evidenced by this data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Computer and information systems managers earned annual median wages of $151,150 as of May 2020, making them some of the highest-paid MBA graduates around. Similarly, financial managers received median wages of $134,180 during the same time period. On the lower end of the spectrum, medical and health services managers received median wages of $104,280; meanwhile, management analysts received $87,660 last year.
Before committing to any MBA specialization, take time to review average salaries and make a decision that aligns with your financial expectations and professional interests.
How Do I Get Into An MBA Degree Program?
Admission requirements vary by program, with more competitive programs looking for prospective MBA students with higher GPAs and GRE scores. Be realistic when looking at programs, making sure to pick 5-10 that look for candidates with academic and professional backgrounds similar to your own. Some common admission packet components include:
- Bachelor’s Degree: This four-year qualification should be from a regionally accredited institution. Some schools may also require this to be in a relevant subject, such as business administration, marketing, or finance. However, not all programs require a business degree.
- Official Transcripts: GPA requirements typically vary between 2.25-3.5, depending on the institution.
- Resume: Depending on the type of MBA, you will need between 2-10 years of work experience in a relevant position to receive serious consideration.
- Personal Statement: This should outline why you want to complete an MBA, what you can bring to the program, and how you plan to use the degree after graduating.
- Letters of Recommendation: These provide an expanded look at you as a candidate and help admissions panels get a better sense of your skills and talents.
- GMAT Scores: Most schools prefer candidates with scores of 600 or above.
- TOEFL Scores: If attending as an international student from a non-English speaking country, these scores ensure you possess the level of English proficiency needed to complete the program.
Should I Get My MBA Online?
For many students, online MBA programs provide the flexibility needed to complete an advanced degree while still juggling outside responsibilities. Because many allow for asynchronous learning, degree seekers can complete assignments and projects at times that work with their schedules, all the while avoiding campus commutes.
That said, distance learners may worry that they will miss out on the social component of in-person learning. Rather than meeting up in the library to work on projects or getting coffee after class, these types of interactions must take place virtually.
Regardless of the decision you make, know that accredited online programs match the quality of on-campus business schools. You will receive the same education, regardless of the format you choose.
What Are The Best Schools For An MBA?
With so many MBA programs available, finding the best one for your academic, financial, and professional requirements can be time-consuming. With this in mind, we ranked the best master’s in business administration programs to help you make an informed and confident decision.
You can also learn more about our methodology for creating the ranking. Our top 10 MBA programs for 2021 include:
- University of Pennsylvania
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Cornell University
- Bentley University
- Boston College
- University of Miami
- University of Southern California
- Tulane University
- University of Georgia
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Types Of MBA FAQs
In addition to the different MBA formats highlighted at the beginning of this guide, most MBA programs include a wide variety of specializations covering myriad fields and industries.
The best type of MBA is the one that works best with your schedule and provides the professional outcome most aligned with your career goals. For this reason, you should closely look at prospective programs and make a decision that works best for you.
According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, hiring managers prized graduates from MBA specialization tracks in business analytics, finance, and strategic management. That said, you should consider which field you want to work in, as many different MBAs are in demand.
With many of today’s top-tier positions requiring an advanced degree, an MBA offers a great choice for individuals looking to work in the upper echelons of their field. If competing against a job candidate with a bachelor’s degree, those with MBAs have the upper hand.