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What Does MBA Stand For?

Learn about the meaning of "MBA", the skills and knowledge you can acquire with this degree, and the benefits of earning an MBA.

Jun 7, 2024
  • Education
What does MBA stand for?

✨5-second summary

  • MBA meaning: Master of Business Administration.
  • MBA is a graduate program designed to teach you everything you need to know to advance to top-level management.
  • Types of MBAs include full-time, part-time, accelerated, online, Global, Specialized, Dual, and Executive MBAs.

You've probably heard of an MBA many times before. Your friends who are interested in starting a business are considering pursuing an MBA, all CEOs you follow have one, and now you think that maybe you need it too. But wait, what does MBA stand for?

In this article, we'll explain what the meaning of "MBA" is and give you an overview of this degree.

MBA meaning

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. It's a graduate degree that focuses on theoretical and practical training for business management. An MBA is generally considered a terminal degree in business, although some students don't stop there and get a PhD or a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration).

What do you learn in an MBA?

MBA programs are designed to provide all the necessary knowledge and skills for you to run your own business. The core coursework typically includes:

  • Finance
  • Marketing strategy
  • Economics
  • Operations management
  • Business ethics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Accounting

There are also many opportunities to get a taste of real-world business management experience. For instance, the infamous HBS Case Method is aimed to prepare you for future leadership positions. The idea is to analyze and discuss a real case, share different perspectives, and decide what you would do in that situation.

MBA requirements

The specific requirements vary from one program to another but the typical steps are:

  • Complete a Bachelor's degree: You don't need a business-related major to apply for an MBA.
  • Get relevant work experience: Even though it may not be mentioned as a requirement, most applicants pursue an MBA after working for a few years. The admission committee is mostly interested in leadership skills.
  • Take an entrance test: GMAT or GRE. You can find the tests and preparation options in our Student Resources.
  • Prepare all the necessary documents: Usually, that includes an application essay, a CV, university transcripts, an entrance test score, and a letter of recommendation.

How long does it take to get an MBA?

An MBA degree takes 2 years to complete for full-time students. There are also accelerated programs that last 1 year, which is very common outside the US.

If you decide to enroll in a part-time program, the duration of your studies can range from 3 to 5 years depending on the number of credits you get each semester.

Special MBA types

Apart from the commonly known full-time, part-time, accelerated, and online programs, an MBA can take various alternative forms.

Executive MBA

Executive MBA programs, or EMBAs, are designed for experienced businesspeople. The classes are usually scheduled in the evenings and on weekends, allowing you to continue working while earning a degree.

These programs tend to incorporate more advanced courses focused on, for example, leadership development, to add to an already substantial career.

International/Global MBA

The purpose of a Global MBA is to introduce students to an international business perspective and give an understanding of how business works on a macro scale. A Global program is perfect for students who want to move abroad or work in international organizations.

This type of MBA often includes foreign languages, international business strategies, global economics, and many international networking and internship opportunities.

Business students study group

Specialized MBA

Specialized MBA programs allow you to choose one particular industry to focus on. The most common specializations basically second the list of foundational courses. However, many other popular options are available:

  • Healthcare Management
  • Tourism
  • Business Analytics
  • Digital Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Entertainment and Media
  • Real Estate

Dual MBA

You can take your specialization one step further and get a dual MBA. Since the core courses in one program can actually be the electives in another, you're able to complete two Master's programs at once and save time. For example, your second degree can be a JD (Juris Doctor), an MS in Healthcare Management, or an MSW (Master of Social Work).

MBA: Is it worth it?

Pursuing an MBA degree is an investment: you spend your time and finances and expect to get closer to achieving your goals in return.

MBA cost

MBA programs tend to be among the most expensive Master's degrees, often competing with only medical majors in cost of tuition.

For example, Harvard Business School – one of the top business graduate schools in the world – charges $76,410 for an MBA and $87,872 for an MS/MBA program annually. It's around 4 times the US average tuition and fees for graduate degrees. Another high-ranking institution, London Business School states that the tuition fees for MBA students are £115,000 for the full 15-21 month program.

However, online MBAs can be quite inexpensive. According to the U.S. News annual survey, the average tuition fees of the top 10 most affordable online MBA programs for out-of-state students are $310 per credit. So you can actually get a degree for about $10,000.

Benefits of MBA

The first thing you'd probably count on is salary benefits. An MBA is a great way to enter a higher-paying tier of the job market. The Corporate Recruiters Survey shows that the starting salary for recent MBA Graduates is around $115,000 per year, meaning their degree could pay off within a year of full-time work.

As for the non-salary benefits, an MBA also has a lot to offer. In addition to the numerous skills and advanced knowledge you gain during your education, an MBA allows you to significantly expand your professional network. Through internships and networking events, you can connect to like-minded people, who could potentially be your business partners or investors.


The meaning of MBA is Master of Business Administration. This 2-year program is considered a terminal degree. The coursework of MBA programs is developed in a way that prepares you for a future leadership position in business.

Depending on your goals and circumstances, you can choose from 8 types of MBA: full-time, part-time, online, accelerated, Executive, Global, Specialized, or Dual. No matter which one you decide to pursue, an MBA program will certainly enhance your career prospects and get you one step closer to becoming your own company's CEO!

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