An online master’s in business administration can be a desirable degree to pursue because of the earning potential and the wide range of employment opportunities it can open up for graduates. There is a wide range of business and management positions that you can pursue with a master’s degree in this field, and the industries and fields you can seek work in are equally unlimited.
And, while an MBA can make you a more competitive candidate in the business field, it can also raise your chances for earning a high salary right after graduation. For example, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has projected that new master’s in business administration graduates in 2021 will make, on average, about $87,966 per year. That’s an increase of over 11% from 2020, and is fueled, at least in part, by the demand from the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors, which are often lucrative fields to pursue for MBA graduates.
MBAs are also ranked among the NACE’s top 10 in-demand master’s degrees, further bolstering the idea that a master’s in business administration can be a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. That said, if you’re thinking about pursuing this type of degree, it’s important to know what the benefits of an MBA are and understand whether they are right for you.
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What is a Master’s Degree in Business Administration?
A master’s in business administration gives you deep insight into how to run a business and how to take on substantial leadership responsibilities. In general, most MBA students will have some business or management experience under their belt, and this could be a requirement of some programs, as this degree is geared toward business leaders and future business leaders.
Many students pursue this degree in order to combine learned worth expertise with education-based expertise about the business field. If you enroll in an MBA program, you will likely study how businesses operate, learn what the elements of finance and accounting are, take courses in the art of project management, and gain new leadership strategies.
What Does Someone With a Master’s Degree in Business Administration Do?
The job duties that an MBA graduate will be responsible for will vary depending on the field and position they pursue. That said, there are some common tasks that a graduate with a master’s in business administration may take on in any job. These include:
- Leading a team, department, or entire company as a C-suite executive
- Making key decisions on the direction, vision, and implementation of a company
- Overseeing an accounting or finance department, making high-level policy choices
- Consulting with various companies on how to control costs and maximize profit
- Launching your own company from the ground up as an entrepreneur
The Differences Between a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration
If you want to study business administration, you have the option to choose whether to stop a bachelor’s degree or continue your studies to earn a master’s degree. While both degree types can be useful, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration have fairly different trajectories and goals. For example:
- A bachelor’s degree in business administration will typically take four years to complete, while MBA degrees tend to take about two years on average.
- A bachelor’s degree in business administration is a less specialized degree. In general, students who graduate with this degree will qualify for entry-level business jobs.
- Most master’s of business administration students enter the program with higher-level work experience and are expected to take on larger level leadership roles as MBA graduates.
- While bachelor’s in business administration can open the door for many different career trajectories in business, MBA programs are typically geared toward those in leadership or management. If an MBA program involves a specialization like logistics or finance, the programs tend to be comprised of leaders in those business specialties.
- Master’s level curriculum typically focuses on the mechanics of running a business. Those who enroll are generally expected to have a working knowledge of how businesses run before they enroll in the program. The coursework in an MBA program will help these higher level students learn how to apply strong complex problem-solving skills in a variety of fast-paced scenarios.
The Benefits of Earning a Master’s in Business Administration
Unlike bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees in business administration typically offer an opportunity to hone existing business skills, connect to networks of like-minded professionals, and move up the chain of command at a company. Any experience or connections you have before your master’s in business administration will likely be helpful for admissions, for making real-world comparisons to your coursework and for leveraging as you complete your coursework and go back out into the business world.
Other benefits of earning a master’s in business administration include:
1. A wider range of career paths vs. a bachelor’s in business administration
While a master’s in business administration sets you up for leadership, you aren’t limited to just one field of business. With this degree, you will actually have quite a lot of flexibility in where you deploy your leadership skills. Plus, your experience in the MBA program can be tailored to certain specialities, which means you can focus on areas where you’d like to get a foot in the door or take on more responsibilities in management. These focus areas can include:
MBAs take a variety of management courses to help them understand how to motivate others and achieve high productivity, which helps make them strong candidates for management positions.
If you focus on finance during your master’s in business administration program, you will likely have the opportunity to advance within that part of your company. Or, after graduation, you can apply for management-level jobs at other companies or firms that better fit your career goals.
Those who want to advance and potentially direct marketing at their companies may want to pursue an MBA. This type of master’s program can be a good way to learn the leadership skills and high-level understanding that’s needed to supervise all of marketing.
Founding your own company generally requires you to have an in-depth understanding of the business systems that MBA students study, which include everything from logistics to marketing to finance. Post-graduation, you’ll be able to bring all those skills to the table alongside a spirit of entrepreneurship and vision for a great product or service.
2. The potential for a higher pay range for this field
Careers tend to be more lucrative if you have an MBA, in part because these degrees tend to be geared toward those on track for higher-level leadership roles. For instance, top executives tend to make, on average, about $107,680 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while many non-management roles in businesses offer average salaries in the $60,000 to $85,000 per year range. Plus, you’ll likely need an MBA to stand a chance in highly competitive roles with high salaries, which tend to go to candidates with top-tier experience and education, such as MBA graduates.
3. A network of business colleagues across industries
Business schools tend to offer lots of networking opportunities in addition to the learning environment. When you attend a master’s program with other MBA students, you form a connection that could allow you to have useful business contacts well into the future. You can also take advantage of the larger network of graduates who have or will complete the same program. Even if your cohort was 10 years apart from someone else’s, the shared experience may be enough to successfully network when meeting a new business colleague down the road.
4. The potential to pivot career fields
Some may see an MBA as a way to break out of a rut in their careers, or as an opportunity to move into an entirely different field from what they currently work in. Business is a broad field, which means you can use your online master’s degree in business to help pull together the skills you amassed while working in one field with the skills you learned while attending your MBA program.
5. Signalling a clear desire for more work responsibilities
If you want to stay on your current career path but demonstrate that you’re interested in moving up the corporate ladder, a master’s degree in business administration can be an integral part of that process. Getting your master’s degree in business online won’t automatically lead to a promotion, but the skills you gain can certainly help put you in the running if you play your cards right.
Your manager may notice your interest in growing your skills and find ways to develop you further at work. Or, you can ask for more responsibility as you obtain more useful business skills to help further signal your interest in management.
6. Flexibility for simultaneous school and work
One of the reasons that people opt for an online master’s in business is to take coursework part-time while continuing to work in their field. Being able to attend class online while furthering your potential for higher-level positions and larger salaries is of significant benefit to many potential MBA students, as class schedules are less likely to interfere with other responsibilities. This benefit means that you can offset costs of the program by continuing to work, and allows you the stability of potentially continuing at your current employer after you earn your new degree.
Who Should Pursue a Master’s in Business Administration?
Most people look into an online master’s of business administration or a traditional MBA program in order to further a thriving career in business. That said, having a career in business isn’t a requirement for pursuing this type of master’s degree. For example, other potential MBA students may decide to pursue this type of degree as a way to pivot between areas of business or to signal their interest in higher levels of responsibility at work and showcase their willingness to learn.
That said, this degree may be less of a fit for someone completely new to business. The goal of earning an MBA is to hone and refine the business skills that you already have in your pocket. It’s a more specialized degree that is primarily geared toward those who plan to go into business management or entrepreneurship in some form or fashion.
Those without a good bank of business knowledge, or those who are just entering the field, may want to pursue a bachelor’s in business administration first or spend some time working their way through the ranks at a business in an entry-level role before diving into this master’s program to get a better understanding of what this field is all about.
Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.
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