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Best Graduate Degrees for Business Majors

Jul 18, 2018

This article introduces business undergrads to some of the best options available for furthering their education at the graduate level. A number of different programs are discussed, including MBA, MPA and CFA programs.

Students who majored in business administration as undergraduates have a variety of paths open to them when they move on to graduate studies. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a natural extension of your education, but plenty of other choices are available in areas like finance and public administration.

Master of Business Administration

Students interested in management of private business operations will likely be best served by moving on to an MBA program after their undergraduate studies. These programs generally take two years to complete at a full-time pace, but students with bachelor's degrees in business administration may be able to obtain advanced standing and cut some of that time off.

Admission Requirements

MBA programs usually require that applicants have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, although they are also usually very flexible on the subject. MBA programs are somewhat unusual among graduate degrees in that they can require a substantial amount of work experience before applying.

Course Outline

MBA programs teach the fundamentals of for-profit business management. Concepts covered include leadership, finance, marketing, accounting, microeconomics and statistics.

Master of Public Administration

Over the course of your undergrad business training, you might find that you're more interested in working for a government agency, a non-profit or in some sort of public service role. If that's the case, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) may be a better choice than an MBA. These programs cover the unique conditions and leadership challenges of management of a not-for-profit organization.

Admission Requirements

MPA programs often require that the student have some sort of accredited bachelor's degree, though the field of study usually isn't important. The program may require that certain prior coursework have been completed, however (such as political science courses).

Course Outline

MPA courses cover how public policy is made and applied, how public budgets and resources are managed, and how the effects of public policy can be analyzed. Some examples of courses students might encounter in these programs include nonprofit management and finance, NGO management, microeconomics, statistics and public systems modeling.

Chartered Financial Analyst

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programs are a little different from other graduate degrees. This is a certificate program available to students who either have a bachelor's degree or are within a year of completing one. The program is offered by the CFA Institute and partner institutions and covers a broad range of finance areas. Graduates usually work for major banks or investment groups in roles such as portfolio manager, research analyst or financial advisor.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the undergraduate status requirement, applicants are required to have four years of qualifying work or education experience by the time they complete the program.

Course Outline

Concepts covered in the program include portfolio management, quantitative methods in finance, financial reporting and security analysis.

Master of Science in Finance

A master's degree in finance is somewhat similar to an MBA, but the coursework shifts away from business management and more toward finance and investment banking topics. These programs can also be completed in as little as a year under the right circumstances, though students coming in without a significant business or finance background should expect two years.

Admission Requirements

A bachelor's degree is usually required to enter these programs, though it does not have to be in a specific discipline. Students may need to have an undergraduate background in math and statistics due to the nature of the coursework, however.

Course Outline

Students can expect these programs to cover topics such as financial accounting, investment analysis, risk management, business valuation and business forecasting.

Students with an undergraduate business background often choose to move on to an MBA, but that is far from the only option available. Specialization in finance, non-profit leadership and public administration are just a few of the leading possibilities.


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