The Complete Guide To The MBA

What Is MBA?

The MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a prestigious postgraduate qualification that is highly respected by employers globally. It does not only hold currency within business, but rather its value is recognized in government, public sector work, and in academia.

As one of the world’s most popular master’s programs, the MBA comes in different forms and can open doors to students from any walk of life: for recent graduates with their sights on a future in business, to experienced managers and professionals looking to take their careers to the next level.

There are generally 3 types of MBA programs: full-time, part-time and online.

  • Full-time MBA programs (most popular) are typically completed in two years. Students generally live somewhere near campus, and attend the classes in person.
  • Part-time MBA programs are good for professionals who cannot afford to take their time off work. Students attend lectures in the evenings or weekends, apart from their working hours.
  • Online MBA programs are fully remote programs, allowing students to attend the course at the comfort of their homes.

For senior managers, you should consider taking an Executive MBA (EMBA) Programs instead. These are programs designed to help professionals further their career progression, such as moving to the C-suite level.

Here are some top full-time MBA programs you should pay attention to:

What are the benefits of getting an MBA?

A prestigious MBA program is not cheap: the fees could easily run from $70,000 to $160,000.

So why should you bother with getting an MBA at all?

Reason #1: Getting An MBA Can Accelerate Your Career

The most common reason for getting an MBA is career acceleration.

An MBA is a valued credential recognized all around the world. The skills and knowledge obtained in an MBA program are highly valued by many employers.

In several industries, such as management consulting and investment banking, an MBA is a de-facto requirement for career progression. A study found that the average MBA holder’s career accelerates 30% faster than that of someone without an MBA.

Reason #2: An MBA Will Unlock Different Career Pathways

Another popular reason for getting an MBA is career change.

For professionals from various industries, an MBA opens up the path to enter management consulting, investment banking or venture capital.

An MBA is also useful in changing careers more generally, e.g. someone from a manufacturing background may find an MBA helpful in transitioning to the pharmaceutical industry. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 64% of MBAs who graduated in 2012 entered a new industry.

Reason #3: Expand Your Network

One of the biggest benefits of an MBA is the expansion of your professional network.

The MBA opens up your school’s academic, student, and alumni network to you, which can be very valuable.

Many professionals, including those who’d like to pursue entrepreneurship after the MBA, cite this ability to make wide and relevant connections as their most important motive to seek an MBA education.

Reason #4: Improve Your Career Prospects

Finally, of course, employability of MBA graduates is high.

For one, MBA graduates from highly-rated business schools are highly desirable for blue-chip employers. According to data released by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in January 2013, even in a tight job market, 92% of 2012 business school graduates worldwide found employment within 3 months after graduation.

MBA salaries also remain high. Graduates from highly-rated schools could earn anywhere between $100,000 and $240,000 per year. These salaries represent 55% to 160% increase from pre-MBA salaries.

In purely financial terms, an MBA typically pays itself off in about 4 years. The lifetime salary enhancement for the average MBA graduate from a highly-rated business school is over $2 million!

What knowledge will I gain from an MBA program?

The majority of MBA programs will train you in core skills and theories, in accounting, marketing, leadership, or social responsibility. However, programs usually offer elective modules in which you can specialize.

Some schools even offer specific MBA programs, in Health Care or IT Management, for example, and it is also common for schools to offer different programs based on students’ previous experiences.

Bottom line is: you should look for an MBA program that’s suitable for your career advancement, and not from a top MBA list you found on the internet.

What do I need to get into an MBA program?

There are almost 3,000 MBA programs offered globally, producing hundreds of thousands of graduates annually. Top schools, including INSEAD, Harvard Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business, may require business experience prior to enrollment.

Most programs are conducted in English, so an IELTS or equivalent proof of English proficiency is usually required for non-native speakers.

Often, it will also be essential for you to complete a General Management Admission Test (GMAT) and have an undergraduate degree.

Whilst admissions processes will vary between schools, you should expect to submit an essay and attend an interview during the application.

How do I choose the right MBA program for myself?

Pursuing an MBA is still a great investment – but if you go full-time, go only for the best.

To choose the right MBA program for yourself, you will need to answer the following questions:

  • What’s the maximum number of schools you plan to apply to?
  • What is the risk exposure you wish to have?

Read our guide to shortlist the right MBA programs here.