MBA Degrees

Differentiate between the many types of MBA degrees. Discover the program types, specializations, and value of an MBA to discover whether it's worth it for your career goals.

What is an MBA?

A Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree is a graduate degree that can enhance business careers across many specializations such as finance, marketing, and international business. These programs are designed to teach you how to lead, grow, and contribute to a business organization or open up new opportunities to progress your business career. These degrees prepare you for an MBA career since you will learn decision making and strategic planning skills that are vital to the business world today.

If you are interested in an MBA degree, you must have a bachelor's degree and typically will need to take the GMAT exam. Many different MBA program options are available to accommodate students with varying commitments so it's easy for you to find a degree program that fits into your life.

Is an MBA Worth it?

An MBA degree is an excellent option no matter the state of your career, since these programs will teach you advanced skills necessary to excel in the business world today. Programs involve real-world problems, scenarios, and learning opportunities which will make you a competitive candidate for businesses to consider.

Many students who consider an MBA are looking to advance their career or to explore a career change. Monetarily, you will have a compelling case for a higher salary, an advanced career, or a promotion. In fact, the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey in 2017 found that 89% of employers plan to increase or maintain the number of MBA hires they make. The survey also stated that median starting salaries for U.S. MBA graduates was expected to be $110,000, up $5,000 from 2016. Salaries were expected to be higher for consulting finance/accounting firms and tech firms. For perspective, median starting salaries for bachelor's degree holders was expected to be $60,000.

Types of MBA Degrees

Since MBA programs are typically taken by students who are working professionals, there are several options for students with job commitments that limit the amount of time available for coursework. Not only are many programs offered online, but there are also programs designed to accelerate degree completion. Course topics are typically similar no matter the type of program, but some may have different admissions requirements and cost.

MBA Degree Approximate Length
Full-Time MBA 2 years
Part-Time MBA 3-5 years
Accelerated MBA 1-1.5 years
Executive MBA 2 years
Online MBA Varies by program type chosen

Full-Time MBA

This general MBA route normally requires two years of full-time commitment to coursework. These programs are typically in-person and offer courses during traditional school hours. Students who consider this type of program may have fewer work and personal commitments, leaving room to attend an MBA program full-time.

Part-Time MBA

Part-time MBA degree programs are designed for working professionals or students who have other commitments outside of their schoolwork. Students in these programs can expect night and weekend classes. Part-time MBA programs vary in length depending on the school's specific program and course workload, but students can generally expect to earn their degree in 3-5 years.

One Year or Accelerated MBA Programs

Accelerated MBA degree programs are for students who want to earn their MBA as soon as possible. These programs are more fast-paced than the other options since they can be completed in a year to a year and a half. Because of that, students can expect a heavy course load. Students are encouraged to come in with a base of business experience and knowledge due to the accelerated pace of the program.

Executive MBA

Executive MBA degree programs typically last around two years and are reserved for professionals with at least 5-10 years of business experience. These programs are offered online, in-person, and in a hybrid format, typically with night and weekend classes. Students can expect more focused curriculum directed at the managerial aspects of business and application of students' extensive knowledge and experience from an executive perspective.

Online MBA

Any of the above program types are also available online. Online MBA programs allow for flexibility in time and location, since you can work through material when and where it works for you. Online programs have the same intensity and rigor as their traditional counterparts, so you aren't going to miss out on academic challenges. In fact, some of the top-rated business schools in the nation offer online MBA options.

MBA Concentrations

Students can choose to enroll in a specialized MBA program that's aligned to their current or prospective career paths. These specialized MBA degrees allow students to focus on coursework and topics that are most applicable to their desired career.

Examples of MBA specializations include:

  • General Management
  • International Business
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Information Technology
  • MBA Cost

    The cost of earning an MBA degree varies greatly depending on the school, type of degree program, and specialization, so students should research their options. According to U.S. News & World Report, the top 20 MBA schools cost between $34,000 to $69,000 a year, with most of MBA programs costing between $55,000 and $68,000 a year. Keep in mind that less competitive schools will offer lower tuitions and that lower cost online options are available.

    It's also important to note that part-time MBA programs can cost more than their full-time counterparts in the long run, even at the same university; however, part-time programs allow you to work while earning the degree. You should consider your situation and options to choose a program within your budget.

    There are other costs associated with earning an MBA degree, so students shouldn't focus only on tuition fees. Other costs to consider can include:

    • Testing fees
    • Application fees
    • Textbooks and course materials
    • Housing

    Although the cost of earning an MBA may seem high, it's important to consider the return on investment of your degree. Not only can an MBA degree open the door to more career opportunities and a higher earning potential, which can help pay off the cost of your degree faster, you'll also have a wide network of professionals and mentors to help build your career. That kind of value isn't often discussed but is an important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA.