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What is an MBA and Why Study It?

For those considering what steps to take after graduation, or are looking for their next act after spending a few years in the workforce, an MBA might be worth considering. If you are not entirely sure what an MBA is, that’s ok. Here’s more information on what an MBA is, and why you might consider studying it.

Jun 16, 2021
  • Education
What is an MBA and Why Study It?

We'll run through everything you need to know and why you should study for a MBA - the world's most popular professional degree programme.

What's an MBA?

An MBA is short for Master of Business Administration (MBA). It's a prestigious postgraduate business qualification, highly valued by employers and business professionals, that gives a comprehensive overview of key business practices and is highly valued by top employers. MBAs are considered the same (or even higher) level of education as other master degrees, and are usually pursued by people who’ve had a few years of professional experience. Individuals who complete an MBA are generally able to advance in their career, and make more money.

What are the types of MBAs?

When you’re trying to choose your degree path, there are a few things to consider, including the type of MBA you’d like to pursue. There are general MBAs. Most people who pursue this track have three or more years of experience in the business world, and are hoping to advance their careers to managerial positions, or jump into other corporate roles.

For those who already hold a corporate position, such as in management, the Executive MBA might be the next step. These are generally studied part-time, and help candidates take on more prestigious positions.

Those considering a specialist MBA typically already have managerial experience and are looking to enter or gain promotion into a particular industry or sector. This is a good choice for those who know what area of business they’re interested in, or want to hone their skills in a specific area.

Also, online MBAs are rapidly rising in popularity. These work very well for those who are working full time and or have family or other commitments. These are usually studied at a part-time rate, and have seen an increase in applicants since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. More business schools are offering remote learning, which increases access for potential students.

Finally, one can pursue an MBA without work experience, which is the ideal choice for those who’ve recently graduated from university with an undergraduate degree. This path helps those who would like to take the steps towards managerial roles, but don’t yet have the work history necessary.

Why study an MBA?

Everyone wants assurances they will get a good return on investment (ROI) from their degree. A recent Forbes article suggests that those who earn an MBA might just see that ROI more substantially than they originally expected. John Byrne writes, “MBA graduates from the top 50 business schools in the U.S., in fact, will pull down median cash compensation of $5.7 million after graduating and working for 35 years.” Additionally, those who attend one of the more established business schools, such as Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, or Darthmouth’s Tuck School of Business can expect their estimated median pay to surpass $8 million over a 35-year period. Even though an MBA can be costly to earn, the long term payoff can be huge!

Apart from the financial benefits, MBA holders can advance in their career, make connections with others in their industry, and become even more valuable assets to their companies with their enhanced skillsets.

How to find the right program

While it can be tempting to go right to rankings to start your search for a business school and MBA program, MBA expert Ryan Price recommends holding off. Instead, Price suggests potential applicants focus instead on fit. While attending a top tier program may be important to some, making sure the program fits your budget, lifestyle, and future goals is also important. The program should also benefit your future goals and aspirations, as well as be a good fit academically. As Price writes, “If you ask yourself what you want for your career and not necessarily just for your resume, you may find that the number one school in the world doesn’t offer the benefits you’re looking for. In fact, you may find that number 15, or 32, or even 167 fits you best.”

What are the benefits of an MBA?

While we’ve touched upon the financial benefits of an MBA program, there are other benefits as well. In addition to MBA holders earning better salaries, they are also more likely to advance more quickly within the corporate world, and obtain more advanced positions.

You can also expect to cultivate a network of contacts that will benefit you both in school and out. MBA students also gain important soft skills, such as interpersonal relationships, conflict management, and communication. Additionally, you will learn more about entrepreneurship, leadership, and how to define your personal brand. All of these skills will help you become a more attractive and successful candidate in the workplace.

If you’re still deciding if an MBA is the right fit for you, that’s ok. There are a lot of influential people who also earned their MBAs, such as Michael Bloomberg, who earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1966. Also in this list is Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight, Abigail Johnson who is the CEO of Fidelity Investments, and Charles Schwab who earned his fortune in investments. While not everyone who earns an MBA will find themselves on the list of the wealthiest people on the planet, it can be a good starting point for those who wish to earn a good wage, and have a career in the business world.

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Chelsea Castonguay


Chelsea is a Student Affairs expatriate, who now works as a freelance writer and editor. She homesteads in a small town in rural Maine, USA. She enjoys hiking, fishing, cooking, reading, all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, spending time with her family, and chasing her black lab puppy, Cash.