The MBA (Master of Business Administration) was first offered in 1900 at the Tuck School of Business in Hanover, New Hampshire; only four students enrolled. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Education, the MBA has become the most popular postgraduate degree program in the United States. It accounts for 25.4% of all master’s degrees conferred.
Businesses, big and small, continue to search for leaders who can bring the knowledge and acumen to help steer them through the changing world of business. The MBA has done well in keeping up with these demands, maintaining its foundations while adapting to a digital and global worldview.
“Economists are not certain about many things. But we are quite certain that a college diploma or an advanced degree is a key to economic success.” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said of acquiring an advanced degree.
The Federal Reserve cites that college graduates’ annual earnings in 2015 were on average, 70% higher than those with no college experience – a rise of 50% from 1980. The MBA has become, as Fortune described it, the “most successful educational product of the past 50 to 100 years.”
The availability of the modern MBA has transformed, accommodating student’s work-life balance. Online MBA programs in particular take into consideration a student’s already packed schedule, and works with it, allowing the student to set the pace for completion. The online MBA degree is ideal for working professionals and students who cannot make it to a campus. The degree can commonly be completed in two years.
Top MBA Careers
The coursework covered in online MBA programs, from accounting and economics to data analysis and marketing, is applicable to a breadth of fields. An MBA prepares a professional to take on the challenges for any type of business. Common MBA specializations students can choose from include healthcare, finance, accounting, project management, entrepreneurship, and human resources. The skills acquired through an online MBA are the very skills that businesses, across all industries, are looking to bring on board to help them organize, manage, build, and plan for success.
Often called management consultants, management analysts aim to help businesses reduce costs, increase revenue, and become more profitable. Much of their time is spent researching and gathering data to analyze and unearth a solution. Companies from all sectors can benefit from the investigative expertise of a management analyst, from a city planning commission to a Silicon Valley startup. Management analysts are often on the road, traveling to interview personnel or investigate a project site that has popped up on their radar.
Degree: B.A. or B.S; however some employers would prefer to hire candidates with an MBA
Licensure Required: No. (However, the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) may improve prospects.)
Time Commitment: 4-9 Years
Financial analysts advise businesses and individuals on investment decisions. The job requires professionals to spend many hours researching, both macro and micro economic conditions and the fundamentals of the business or investor. Then analysts come to a decision to either buy, sell, or hold. Financial analysts, while concerned about current developments, are constantly looking to the future in a bid to predict economic conditions to best help investors stay one step ahead.
Degree: B.A. or B.S.; however an MBA or master’s degree in finance is often required for advanced positions
Licensure Required: No. (Not to start as most require sponsorship from an employer.)
Time Commitment: 4 Years
Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun,” and that’s what marketing managers bring to a business. Marketing managers help businesses get their product, service, or brand to the people through advertising, promotions, and events. Their focus can be singular or broad, creating offline and online campaigns that gain the attention of the consumer. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff to bring their ideas to life, and profitability to their clients.
Licensure Required: No.
Time Commitment: 4-7 Years
A specialization can be the key to acquiring a desired job. Specializations for online MBA programs include business economics, health care, and marketing . Coursework in any one of these concentrations better prepares a student in pursuing leadership roles within them.
Most Common MBA Degree Subjects
The predecessor to the MBA was called the Master of Science in Commerce, and seems closely aligned with what the online MBA finance specialization is today. It focuses on subjects in costing, budgeting, capital management, and banking. Online MBA finance courses emphasize financial theories and best managerial practices. Students learn how to oversee the financial concerns of an organization or client, including investment, flow of cash, fund-raising, tax and regulations, and borrowing.
Example Careers: Financial advisor, hedge fund manager
The online MBA marketing degree specialization focuses on promotion: marketing, advertising, public relations. Successful candidates typically have strong communication skills and an aptitude for working with others. Online MBA marketing courses cover the fundamentals of marketing strategy, consumer behavior, quantitative research, and resource mobilization. The marketing concentration for online MBA programs has evolved over the past decade, finding ways to innovate and keep pace with the growth of the internet, social media, generational trends, and globalization.
Example Careers: Product manager, marketing analyst
|Supply Chain Management|| |
A subset of operations management, the online MBA supply chain management concentration focuses on optimizing the flow of goods and services for a business, devising strategies and solving issues within the supply chain. MBA supply chain management online courses cover areas in inventory management, warehousing, logistics, and the global market. Focusing on how technology has fueled changes for organizations, their supply chains, and the reach of their brand in a more connected world.
Example Careers: Purchasing managers, logistics managers, consultants
The accounting concentration prepares students for the CPA exam and a leadership role in business administration accounting. Curriculum at online MBA schools cover topics in accounting reports, information systems, forecasting, and taxes. Accounting students in online MBA programs learn how to effectively apply accounting and economic principles in business and financial planning and how to use quantitative analysis in the management and operation of an organization.
Example Careers: CPA, tax consultant, budget analyst
|Healthcare Administration|| |
The online MBA healthcare administration specialization takes administrative acumen and applies it to a healthcare setting, including hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and elderly care facilities. Online healthcare MBA courses explore how financial, operational, and marketing activities are applied to health organizations and the legal aspects of managing such an enterprise in health care reform, insurance, and policy. Students who choose the online MBA healthcare administration concentration leave with the skills required to lead a nonprofit, government, or private health practice.
Example Careers: Hospital CEO, hospital administrator
The online executive MBA focuses on the science of leadership, one that can be applied to any sector. Students in online MBA programs learn how to apply various disciplines in finance, economics, accounting, and strategic thinking, to real-world settings, preparing them for a future leadership role. Executive MBA online courses cover executive leadership, teamwork, and professional development, and the program’s broad scope makes it applicable to every industry. It’s a popular choice for those looking to change careers mid-stream.
Example Careers: Managing director, VP of sales
MBA students who specialize in entrepreneurship attain the business administration skills and strategies that will take their ideas and make them into something concrete. Coursework in online MBA programs typically involves work in a real-world setting, through which students take away a practical understanding of the issues involved in starting a business. Entrepreneurs working toward an online MBA degree learn how to foster innovation as a solo enterprise, with a startup team, or in a corporate setting.
Example Careers: Entrepreneur, inventor, product manager
|Business Intelligence|| |
The business intelligence specialization for online MBA programs focuses on helping students learn how to use both data and models to support decision-making in business, analyzing patterns, and breaking down raw data. As online MBA students learn how to develop meaningful insights from what their research and metrics reveal they become more proficient.
Example Careers: Business intelligence administrator, SQL data analyst
|Healthcare Management|| |
The online MBA healthcare management concentration builds on the MBA’s management core and applies it to the unique facets and issues of the healthcare industry. Online healthcare MBA students gain the practical business skills, leadership, competence, and compassion to take on a leading role within an organization in the healthcare field. Through the online MBA healthcare management specialization, students graduate with the knowledge needed to make critical decisions in the real world at hospitals, government agencies, biotech firms, group practices, and insurance companies.
Example Careers: Hospital administrator, policy analyst
|Human Resources|| |
An online MBA with a specialization in human resources focuses on the skills and knowledge needed for those looking to advance and lead in the HR field. Experts in human resources play a vital role in establishing company culture, from hiring top talent to creating a work environment conducive to employee satisfaction. Curriculum from online MBA programs covers topics in labor markets, recruiting, training, team building, OSHA compliance, compensation, and benefits.
Example Careers: HR director, HR managers
The Quickest, Cheapest Path to an MBA
Who should pursue an MBA?
For those wondering, “What can you do with an MBA?” the quick answer is: career advancement. An MBA could mean the difference between staying in middle-management or advancing to become an executive. Many online MBA degree students are working professionals looking to take that next step or change careers. Entrepreneurs and future business leaders are also prime candidates for a Master of Business Administration degree.
How many years will it take to complete?
Since many MBA students are working professionals, online MBA programs are a popular option and take about two years to complete, consisting of 45 to 60 credits and ending with a capstone or thesis project. Some programs can be completed in a much shorter time. These online MBA programs, which can be finished in just under a year, typically waive the GMAT and offer credit for life experience.
Is a thesis or capstone usually required?
Yes, a thesis project or capstone is often required, and is usually done in the student’s chosen specialization during the second year of their online MBA. Cost of the program is also a consideration for potential MBA candidates to weigh. Students should be reminded that it’s an investment in themselves, with the payoff being a degree that can lead to career advancement. For an online MBA, cost is commonly less than traditional, on-campus programs.
What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?
What jobs can you get with an MBA? — think leadership. Online MBA programs serve professionals across industries, with learned skills applicable to different types of business. Graduates who have an online MBA are ready to make decisions on production, strategy, budget, promotion, and staff. Career paths include hospital CEO, marketing director, financial analyst, healthcare manager, human resources manager, IT manager, and chief technology officer.
What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?
MBA salary varies by industry and years of experience. Working for a nonprofit organization will not pay the same as an investment bank. Given this, according to a dynamic Payscale survey, the average MBA salary is $71,462.50.
Online MBA programs create the foundation students will build upon to become leaders in business. Disciplines such as finance, economics, ethics, communication, operations, and statistics, give online MBA students the essential knowledge, reasoning, and analytical skills needed to effectively lead.
The language of business, including the interpretation, analysis, and evaluation of financial reports, and the basics of forecasting, budgeting, and financial statements.
Insight into how financial markets function, the relationship of supply and demand, and the impact of globalization.
Topics include the environment, quality control, and the supply chain as it relates to the production, manufacturing, or provision of goods and services.
Fundamentals, including the basic concepts of probability, variables, and statistics of relevance as it pertains to decision making.
|Economics for Business||Introduction to both micro- and macroeconomic theory, covering market behavior, cost theory, GDP determination, and how a market-based economic system reconciles the needs of the consumer and producer.||Decision making in markets with perfect and imperfect competition|
|Leading in an Organization||An overview of personnel management, including individuals, teams, departments, and internal and external staff, such as contractors or vendors.||Interpersonal skills, conflict management, negotiation|
|Corporate Ethics||An examination of business ethics and values and the ethical framework of social responsibility as it concerns the community and environment, from cultural awareness to sustainable practices.||Civic engagement|
|Operations Management||Focused study on project management, with topics covering key performance indicators, automation, sustainability and case studies that make use of common methodologies, and strategic planning.||Analysis, critical thinking|
The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a 3 1/2-hour standardized test that graduate business schools use to make decisions on MBA admissions. The test—comprised of four sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal—measures a student’s analytical ability, reasoning skills, and judgment.
Scores on the GMAT will determine what online MBA programs are available to the student, with the top tier schools requiring the highest scoring. For an admissions panel, the GMAT score immediately tells them a lot about a prospective student: their likelihood of academic success, their aptitude, and their commitment.
The GMAT can provide a promising candidate a second chance. If the applicant’s undergraduate performance is lacking, a high GMAT score can help bridge that gap and prove the determining factor in admission. Students should plan on studying 100-120 hours over the course of 2-3 months. The highest scores are usually achieved by applicants who spend at least 120 hours preparing, according to Kaplan Test.
The test provides students with a preview of what will be required of them if admitted to an online MBA. Some program have no GMAT requirements for their online MBA programs. These schools waive the test for qualified candidates with sufficient GPA or significant life experience. For online MBA programs with no GMAT requirement, pre-program test prep is not needed, but studying for the test does provide a good primer for the graduate coursework ahead.
Students who need to improve their score can take the test again after 31 calendar days. The limit per 12-month period is five times.
Sites You May Also Be Interested In
MBA Job Boards
- LinkedIn: MBA The business- and employment-oriented social networking site has job listings for candidates in the United States with an MBA.
- HeadHunter.com Career site specializing in matching qualified candidates with management and executive level positions.
- VentureLoop List of current job opportunities for startups across all sectors, from healthcare to finance.
- MBACareers Founded in 1998, MBACareers connects MBA candidates and new graduates with professional opportunities.
- Monster: MBA Features job listings for MBA graduates from around the world and career services.
- CareerBuilder: Entry-level MBA List of entry-level management positions, in particular for new graduates with an MBA degree.
- US News & World Report: MBA Admissions Provides insight on business trends, tips, and what to avoid when it comes to the daunting MBA admissions process.
- Financial Times: MBA Blog Includes blog posts from MBA students and alumni sharing their experiences from around the world.
- Tuck 360 Home of the first MBA program in the U.S., Tuck at Dartmouth College continues to inspire with insights from both student and faculty.
- Berkeley-Haas: The Berkeley MBA Blog Updated by the Berkeley-Haas School of Business, this academic blog includes admission tips, career inspiration, and an inside-look at Berkeley’s MBA program.
- Yale: MBA Blog Yale School of Management posts about the MBA application process, school projects, and alumni.
- TopMBA.com Provides news and updates from the business school world, covering application tips, MBAs and careers, and choosing a school.
- Payscale: Best-paying MBA Majors A look at some of the jobs available to MBA graduates and which concentration is, on average, the highest paid.
- MBA Association Members have access to a network of graduate business professionals from around the world who share experiences and opportunities.
- Association of MBAs A professional membership association based in England that connects MBA students, MBA graduates, accredited business schools, and MBA employers throughout the world.
- National Association of Women MBAs NAWMBA is dedicated to propelling women into leadership roles and enhancing diversity in the workforce worldwide.
- National Black MBA Association Established in 1970, NBMBAA is dedicated to developing partnerships that result in the creation of opportunities for the African-American community.
- National Society of Hispanic MBAs Established in 1988, NSHMBA is dedicated to increasing the number of Hispanics graduating with MBA degrees.
- Executive MBA Council An academic association representing the Executive MBA (EMBA) industry and working to advance the cause of EMBA programs.
- MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance A global alliance dedicated to the support and development of individuals in the MBA career management and employment professions.