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MBA Degrees Explained

By Leigh Goessl,
Staff Writer

An MBA can be what you need to fast track a career in business.

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is an advanced and rigorous degree program. Because of the tremendous growth of distance learning opportunities and the level of customization now available, MBA programs are in reach for many students. Some MBA students are recent undergrads, while others are individuals who have established careers and are looking to advance themselves professionally. MBA degrees offer versatility in career choices because the knowledge gained can generally be applied to any type of industry.

Selecting an MBA program

If you decide an MBA is the right curriculum for you, there are several different MBA structures to meet your individual needs. Options include enrolling in full or part-time MBA programs, accelerated degree programs, or, if already working, you can pursue an Executive MBA. U.S. News describes the differences between a traditional and executive MBA; many students find they need a different structure when pursuing their advanced business degree. Additionally, increasingly, online MBA programs are an option, especially for students who have job and family responsibilities and need the flexibility online degrees can provide.

MBAs are traditionally linked to management level careers, and many colleges offer students several paths to choose from. These options allow you to customize your degree and design your MBA education to include a sequence of courses tailored to your needs and interests in a specialized area.

MBA concentrations

If you decide to earn an advanced degree in business, most colleges will offer the opportunity to augment your degree with a specialized concentration. Today's masters programs provide students the opportunity to not only earn the MBA, but integrate traditional business education with focused training. If you decide you want the MBA, but have a passion in a specific subject area, you can have the best of both worlds.

Some of the common specializations include various technology concentrations, marketing, finance and accounting, human resources, hospitality, health care and international business, however there are many other concentration possibilities as well. Concentrations are valuable in the respect that focusing in specific business areas can provide you the ability to attain expert knowledge in your selected field, further increasing the value of your MBA.

Preparing for MBA

As you research the admissions criteria of different colleges, you'll likely discover criterion may vary amongst colleges. Many schools require students to take the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAT) test prior to being considered for admission. Some schools waive this test if your undergrad GPA is very high, however it is vital to find out prior to applying as many MBA programs require the GMAT. Other items you may need are an essay and/or resume for your application packet.

Most undergraduate degrees are acceptable as prerequisite for the MBA. You do not necessarily have to have a business degree. Increasingly many professionals look to earn MBAs so they can better understand the business end of their industries.

Advantages of the MBA

The MBA is generally aligned with a management path and can carry prestige as a job candidate, opening lucrative career options. On average, according to MBA, graduates earn significantly higher salaries than those who earn a bachelor's degree.

Due to the well-rounded education an MBA degree offers, the possibilities of career choices are vast. Individuals trained in MBA programs are able to provide analysis and solve issues in the workplace. As a graduate, you can apply the knowledge learned in your MBA program to real-world problems and be able to effectively deliver solutions, making you an attractive job candidate in a variety of fields.

Last edited: October 31, 2011, 6:40 pm EST
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