What Is a Master Of Business Administration?

A master of business administration (MBA) is a graduate degree that provides theoretical and practical training for business or investment management. An MBA is designed to help graduates gain a better understanding of general business management functions. The MBA degree can have a general focus or a specific focus in fields such as accounting, finance, or marketing, including relationship managers.

Key Takeaways

  • An MBA is a graduate business degree focused on management.
  • MBA students can also focus on other aspects of business, like finance or risk management.
  • Many schools now offer specialty programs, like sports management, entrepreneurship, the entertainment business, or healthcare management.
  • Executive MBAs programs are available for experienced professionals who cannot commit to a full-time schedule.

Understanding Master Of Business Administration (MBA)

A master of business administration (MBA) is a level up from an undergraduate business degree and generally places the graduate well above those with only undergraduate degrees. Most major universities and colleges provide MBA programs, which usually last two years. To get into an MBA program, an applicant needs to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and be accepted by the program based on its selection criteria.

MBA programs typically include core classes in accounting, management, finance, marketing, and business law. Management training is at the heart of any MBA curriculum, with a focus on leadership, planning, business strategy, organizational behavior, and the more human sides of running a large or small business. Increasingly, MBA programs are broadening their focus to include training in international business and to focus on the responsibilities and corporate accountability of businesses within their communities.

The MBA degree is seen as essential to enter certain fields, including strategic planning and hedge fund and private equity firms. Other financial services fields, however, may no longer consider an MBA an entry-level degree to get started. It is not uncommon to gain professional experience before applying to elite MBA programs.

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MBA Vs Executive MBA: Which Is Better?

Specialized MBA Programs

While MBA candidates can focus on one of the core disciplines of the degree, such as management or finance, many MBA programs allow students to develop concentrations in specific industries. For example, an MBA student might specialize in sports management, entrepreneurship, the entertainment business, or healthcare management. Even within a management specialty, MBA degrees can allow a concentration on information technology, hospitality, education, or criminal justice. Some MBA programs team up with various professional healthcare programs, such as nursing schools, to offer joint degrees.

Specialized MBA programs are also available for students whose lives and careers do not permit them to attend school full time. Executive MBA programs are designed for working professionals hoping to add to their credentials and qualifications. These courses of study typically schedule classes for nights and weekends, sometimes also requiring short residencies of intensive coursework. Executive MBA programs are typically only open to candidates who already have substantial professional experience, and they, therefore, tend to focus on more advanced topics such as leadership development.