A master’s in business administration, also referred to as an MBA degree, can open many doors for employment opportunities and salary ranges that are higher than the national average. And, this type of degree also tends to offer a wide range of other perks to those who earn it, which is why it has become a popular choice among master’s degree seekers.
Before you start applying to MBA programs, however, you may want to ask yourself two key questions: “Why get an MBA?” and “What can you do with an MBA?” It’s important to understand these answers before you enroll in a rigorous master’s in business program, or you could end up in over your head — or with a degree that doesn’t quite fit your needs or goals. In general, MBAs are degrees pursued by business employees who either want to go into higher-level management or are already in a high level management position and need to expand their education and mastery of business principles.
The payoff for earning this degree can be extremely lucrative for the right individual. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for management occupations was about $109,760 as of 2020, which was the highest wage of all the major occupational groups. If the perks of earning an MBA or an online master’s in business appeal to you, this degree may be a good fit for your needs.
What Is a Master of Business Administration Degree?
An MBA is a master’s in business administration that is geared toward those who want to gain solid business skills and accelerate their careers in this field. This type of master’s degree generally takes about two years to complete (or one year in an accelerated program), and it is typically tailored to individuals who have backgrounds in business.
When you enroll in a master’s of business education program, you may be expected to take a full-time course load, or you may be able to work around your job with a part-time or flexible class schedule. Because this degree is geared toward working business professionals, it is not unusual for classes to be tailored around busy work schedules or for there to be fully online programs that offer more flexibility to students.
The coursework for this type of degree will vary from program to program, but typically includes deeper dives into topics like international business, business law, leadership studies, finance, marketing, logistics, or other business-related subject areas. You may also have the option to specialize in a topic or area of study, though what you can specialize in will again depend on the program and school you enroll in.
What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Business Administration?
What exactly your work duties will look like with this degree will vary with your experience level, specialization, field, and other factors. After earning this type of degree, you may have the opportunity to work in a wide range of sectors, as nearly every company offers positions at the management or executive level.
That said, one of the largest roles you are likely to play with an MBA is that of problem solver. Those who have earned this type of degree typically work in upper management, which means they spend a lot of time managing workers, supervising processes, making sure projects are completed correctly and within the deadlines, and making sure departments run smoothly within the organization or business.
10 Reasons to Get a Master of Business Administration Degree
There are several reasons you may want to pursue an MBA as someone with an interest in and knack for business. These include:
1. To Develop Your Growing Leadership Skills
If taking on new responsibility at work is one of your goals, you may need a broader toolkit to work with — especially if you want to lead others. That’s part of what an MBA program can offer you. Most MBA programs focus on helping students hone or build their management and leadership skills, pinpoint their own strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and learn how to be effective in any business leader capacity.
2. To Propel You Forward on Your Current Career Path
Most companies look for executive and management candidates who have higher levels of education during the hiring process. If you want to move into a leadership role at your company, you may need to earn an MBA to signal that you’re ready to take on more leadership duties.
And, you generally do not have to put work on the backburner to earn your MBA. You can pursue an online master’s in business or another flexible MBA program that allows you to continue working while taking MBA coursework. This will prime you for opportunities in management within your current company — or lead to offers from outside companies who are looking for leaders with your skill set.
3. To Allow You to Transition to New Areas of Business
Ready to make a job or role change? While an MBA isn’t a surefire way to jump into a new industry or department, earning this type of graduate degree can give you a new skill set that may also build on your past experience to qualify you for a wider range of employment opportunities.
4. To Help You Qualify For a Wider Range of Executive Roles
Some positions, like those leading departments or higher level executive roles, are typically filled by those with advanced degrees and advanced experience. If you have advanced experience but limited education, adding an MBA to your resume can help you to qualify for high level positions that you would have otherwise not qualified for. With this comes the opportunity for more leadership duties and the opportunity for a higher salary range.
5. To Build a Network of Colleagues
One of the benefits of attending an MBA program is that you will study alongside a cohort of business colleagues who can help you down the road with your career and with networking opportunities. These programs are unique because they cater to professionals who already have some advanced experience within their field, which means your classes and your program are prime with networking opportunities. You can use this opportunity to bond with other students or alumni who may end up being essential to the advancement of your career.
6. To Help You Develop Mentoring Relationships
The professors who teach you in an online masters degree in business program or another MBA program will bring to the table their passion and lots of experience, which makes them ideal mentors if you take advantage of it. Excelling in class and being open to discussions and connections can create positive relationships with your professors — turning them into mentors who can offer resources and help you make the best choices for your career after graduation.
7. To Expand Your Potential Salary and Earnings
In general, MBA degrees can open up doors to highly lucrative fields. This could be in sales, marketing, finance, executive leadership, or in another role or field entirely. Or, if you want to stay in your current role but expand your job duties, you may also qualify for a higher salary along with the new job duties if you have an MBA.
8. To Rekindle Your Passion For the Business Field
It’s normal to be fatigued by some parts of your job after a while, but you may be able to dig yourself out of that rut by finding a new interest in business while earning your MBA. Business school offers plenty of opportunity to renew your passion for this industry as you see things from a new mindset and vantage point.
9. To Sharpen Your Communication Skills
There are many ways to become a strong communicator, but surrounding yourself with experienced business professionals in an MBA program can be a great way to help you sharpen your own communication skills. You’ll want to present yourself as the professional you are, and communication skills are a large part of that. Plus, the projects and presentations you’re required to complete in your courses can also help you sharpen your writing and speaking skills as well.
10. To Help You Launch Your Own Business
Entrepreneurs don’t have to complete business school or an MBA program to start their own businesses, but knowing your way around the business world can be a necessary tool for successfully starting and running your own business. Company founders who earn their MBAs before starting their businesses tend to have the toolkit filled with strategies and information necessary to successfully navigate a role as an entrepreneur.
How to Decide if an MBA is Right For You
Before you make any decisions, you may want to ask yourself, “Why should I get an MBA?”
The costs that come with enrolling in an MBA program may play a large part in whether or not you decide to move forward with this type of degree. Master’s programs in business — or any master’s program, really — generally come with fewer financial aid options than an undergraduate program would. So, you’ll want to start by weighing whether the costs of these programs outweigh the benefits for you.
If you envision that the salary you’ll earn post-MBA will be worth the costs of the program, and the MBA program meets your goals and needs for your career, then an MBA could be the right move for you.
On the other hand, if you have limited business experience, haven’t studied business at the bachelor’s level, or if you are unsure of your prospects for funding a masters in business, you may want to rethink whether an MBA is the right move for you.
The return on investment for MBAs tends to be high, but if you aren’t sure the business field is right for you, or if you think you may face serious obstacles meeting your career goals — even with an MBA — it’s going to be harder to reap those benefits.
Alternatives to a Master’s Degree in Business Administration
If you aren’t sure a master’s degree in business administration is the right move for you, there are plenty of other options.
For example, if you like business but prefer the finance side of the field, you may be interested in pursuing a master’s in finance in pursuit of a career as a chartered financial analyst. A career as a chartered financial analyst allows you to mix business with finance — and offers you the opportunity to earn valuable credentials by passing the CFA exam.
You may also want to look into a master’s program in management, or a Master’s of Science in Management. These degrees are often referred to as an MiM and are very similar to an MBA. The big difference is that a Master of Science in Management is geared toward graduates, while MBAs are geared toward seasoned professionals instead.
A master’s in organizational leadership is another option. This type of degree is typically seen as an alternative to an MBA, and is best suited for students who are more interested in leadership studies. Business and marketing take a backseat with this type of degree program.
If you want to earn an MBA but don’t have a bachelor’s degree in business, you may want to pursue an entry-level position in this field or earn a bachelor’s degree in business first. It’s possible to gain admittance to an MBA without business experience, but your peers will have their business experience to draw on — and you won’t. In that case, you may be better off by building a background business before enrolling in an online masters degree in business.
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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