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Is an MBA Worth It?

Aug 07, 2017

Learn about the various aspects of an MBA program to help evaluate whether it is worth pursuing for yourself or not. You can also explore some alternative degree options in the field of business.

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A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can be applied to numerous business-related careers, since it covers a wide range of business topics. Below we discuss some of the common courses and requirements for the program, the salary potential for graduates, and some related business degree program options.

MBA Degree Program Information

MBA degree programs are designed to prepare graduates to lead effectively in business organizations, as well as to innovate, grow and improve the organization they work for. Students may be able to choose from various concentrations, such as entrepreneurship, investment management, data analytics and more. MBA programs are available in part- or full-time formats, as well as fully online, on-campus or hybrid formats. These programs typically take 18-36 months to complete, and admission usually requires a bachelor's degree, GMAT scores and/or work experience, letters of reference, essays and interviews. Common courses for an MBA program include, but are not limited to:

  • Business Communication
  • Management Foundations
  • Leadership
  • Business Strategy
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Salary Potential for MBA Graduates

One way to help evaluate the value of a MBA is to examine the salary potential. Earning a graduate degree in general is a smart salary move: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 graduates with any kind of master's degree earned a weekly median salary that was $224 more than those with only a bachelor's degree.

In an article written about MBA graduates in 2016, U.S. News & World Report reported that 80% of graduates from ranked business schools found a job within three months, and many of them earned an average salary over $80,000. These salaries vary depending on the industry one chooses to work in; for example, in 2016, those with an MBA in the consulting industry made an average salary of $126,919, while those working for non-profits made an average of $81,776.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • Business Economics
  • Business Finance
  • Business Management and Operations
  • Business Marketing
  • Business Support and Administrative Services
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development
  • Hospitality Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information System Management
  • International Business
  • Sales and Merchandising
  • Specialized Sales

Other Business-Related Master's Degrees

An MBA isn't the only graduate-level business degree. If you feel certain that you want to earn a master's degree but aren't sure whether you want an MBA, you might check out the following program options.

Master of Accounting

A Master of Accounting degree program is designed to prepare students for their CPA certification by teaching them the necessary accounting and leadership skills needed to succeed in the field. Entrance requirements to the program may include GMAT or GRE scores, letters of recommendation, essays, a resume and transcripts. The program can be completed in 12-36 months, depending on if it's taken part- or full-time, as well as online or on-campus. Students generally choose from an audit or tax specialization, but some common courses include tax research, financial reporting, advanced auditing and advanced accounting.

Master of Finance

In a Master of Finance degree program, students will study various aspects of the financial industry, including trends in the domestic and global marketplaces. The program can usually be completed in 1 to 2 years and is offered on-campus or online, as well as part- or full-time. Applicants need GMAT or GRE scores, references and a resume, and they may be required to meet a particular undergraduate GPA and/or have relevant work experience. Students may need to complete a capstone course and/or an on-campus residency if they take the program online. The coursework covers topics such as corporate finance, financial decision-making, financial analysis and mergers and acquisitions.

Master's in Marketing

A Master in Marketing degree program gives students the necessary marketing skills to promote their organization, which can be applied to numerous industries. This degree can be completed in as little as 10 months on-campus, or it can be self-paced online and completed in 1 to 5 years. Applicants to these programs generally need to submit the proper test scores, letters of recommendation, a resume and/or personal statement and may need to undergo an interview or submit evidence of relevant work experience. Common courses for these programs include marketing strategy, marketing management, marketing research and analytics.

Master's in Management

A master's degree program in management is designed to further develop students' leadership skills in the area of business and prepare them for a wide variety of careers in the industry. The program can be found in on-campus, online or hybrid formats and generally ranges from 10 months to two-years in length. Admission requirements may include transcripts, letters of recommendation and letters of reference. Some programs allow students to choose from specializations like human resource, emergency, criminal justice or intelligence management. Degree programs in management include course topics in business statistics, strategy, business economics, finance, marketing and management.

For those interested in a career in business, an MBA program offers several different areas of concentration and prepares students for leadership roles in their future organization. There are also several other master's-level degree programs that could potentially fit a business student's career goals.

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