For many seeking to take the next step in their career and conquer the business world, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an obvious choice. This graduate degree provides individuals with the necessary tools to thrive in business and can help them stand out in the eyes of many employers. It’s an enticing opportunity for those looking to advance their careers, increase potential earnings, and broaden their skill sets.
In today’s business landscape, organizations are grappling with numerous complex challenges, from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting workplace culture to supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainties that threaten profitability. Many companies are looking for leaders who can develop strategies to help them effectively navigate these obstacles toward new opportunities. In short, they look to those who have proven they have the qualifications, high-level knowledge, and expertise to help them face these challenges head-on. These attributes are exactly what an MBA degree represents, which is why getting an MBA is a great idea for those seeking to become business leaders.
Why It’s a Great Time to Get an MBA
An MBA is a graduate degree designed to provide students with advanced knowledge and skills in business operations, strategy, and leadership—ultimately preparing them to help businesses adapt to the rapidly changing business landscape.
Prepare for Business Challenges
While it has long been considered a valuable degree for professionals looking to advance their careers, the pandemic added additional complexity to the business landscape, making an MBA even more relevant. For example, an MBA can equip aspiring business leaders with the necessary tools to develop contingency plans for supply chain disruptions, navigate economic uncertainty and instability, and implement strategies for remote work and virtual operations—all of which have risen to prominence in the past few years.
Inflation can also be a significant challenge for businesses, as rising prices can eat into profit margins and make it difficult to stay competitive. An MBA can help professionals cultivate the skills to develop pricing, cost management, and financial forecasting strategies, which can help businesses navigate inflationary pressures and maintain profitability.
The transition to clean energy is another crucial consideration for businesses today, as governments and consumers increasingly demand more sustainable practices. MBA graduates can apply their strategy, finance, and leadership skills to help companies develop and implement sustainable business models and navigate the challenges of transitioning to clean energy sources.
Expand Career Opportunities
Getting an MBA can significantly enhance an individual’s chances of climbing the corporate ladder, particularly for new graduates. According to survey projections from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), more than 90% of corporate recruiters hired recent MBA graduates in 2022. The survey also suggests that companies looking to expand are increasingly interested in taking on new industry-leading experts. Since 94% of companies are focused on growth, this provides graduates with many career opportunities.
Despite the increased opportunities for career recruitment, switching careers can feel daunting for those who have already established themselves in a job. But an MBA can help professionals enhance their knowledge and skill set to make the transition smoother. The degree’s broad focus on business operations and strategy can give graduates the versatility and adaptability needed to succeed in a new field. An MBA can also provide access to a network of industry professionals and job opportunities, making it easier to break into a new career.
Those that desire to stay with their current employer might also find now a great time to get an MBA—particularly if their employer will help them pay for it. Survey findings by GMAC found that, due to conditions created by the Great Resignation and a hot hiring market, employers are showing a desire to retain and expand their workforce, offering MBA incentives for those willing to remain with the company. Taking advantage of this opportunity now can result in an increased salary and career advancement without having to leave one’s employer or build a new career.
How to Get an MBA
Obtaining an MBA can be a significant investment of time, resources, and finances. But it can also be a valuable opportunity for professionals looking to advance their careers and gain additional expertise in the business world.
For individuals exploring how to get an MBA, it’s essential to understand the steps involved in the process and what one can expect along the way. While the details of each stage may differ depending on an individual’s experience or chosen MBA program, the typical steps are as follows:
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
MBA programs often require potential students to first obtain a bachelor’s degree to build a foundation in business management and general academic principles. Students should consider a major that focuses on a related field such as business, accounting, economics, or management. Having a firm grasp on these subjects will be beneficial when tackling the more rigorous curriculum of an MBA program.
Additionally, prospective students should attempt to attain a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 rating scale, which is traditional at most colleges and universities. However, those who may have struggled to earn a high GPA or have only earned a professional degree (but not a bachelor’s degree) should not be discouraged from seeking an MBA. Many programs look at an applicant’s experience holistically and may consider other factors such as prior work and life experience.
2. Take the GMAT or GRE
To earn an MBA, individuals will typically need to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination). As part of the MBA application process, these necessary exams assess one’s aptitude for graduate-level study at many business schools. A high score on these exams typically increases the chances of being accepted into a top MBA program, and strong exam performance may qualify an individual for scholarship opportunities.
The GMAT exam measures a student’s analytical writing, integrated reasoning, and quantitative and verbal skills. It is the most common assessment tool used by business schools. The GRE is a more general test that measures an individual’s verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. While not specifically designed for business school applicants, many MBA programs accept GRE test scores as an alternative to those from the GMAT.
3. Choose an MBA Program
When choosing an MBA program, there are several factors that an applicant might consider. These may include the reputation and accreditation status of the program, the availability of specialization tracks or dual degree options, career services, job placement support, and the overall cost of tuition and fees.
Another important factor to consider when selecting an MBA program is whether it aligns with one’s lifestyle. If an individual wants to dedicate most of their time to school, they can enroll in a full-time program, which typically takes one to two years to complete. There are also accelerated programs that end sooner but have a heavier academic workload. A full-time program may be ideal for individuals who want to advance or completely change their careers.
However, there are other options for those who feel like a full-time program will not work for them: Online MBA programs offer the flexibility and convenience that many working professionals need. Online programs allow individuals to complete their coursework from anywhere and at their own pace, making it easier to balance their studies with other commitments. Online MBA programs may also be more affordable than traditional ones, as they often have lower tuition costs and do not require students to travel or relocate.
The advantages of online MBA programs add to the reasons why getting an MBA is a smart decision—and their popularity is growing. According to Fortune, the number of accredited schools with fully online MBA programs in the United States nearly doubled between the 2016-17 and 2020-21 academic years, rising from 284 to 526. Additionally, Forbes reports there were more students enrolled in online MBA programs in 2020-21 than full-time, on-campus programs: 45,038 vs. 43,740.
4. Prepare for Business School Applications
Alongside exam scores, applicants should include a résumé of relevant experience to demonstrate their qualifications and highlight their unique strengths, and an application essay to help them stand out. These application sections can help a candidate convey their unique personal and professional experiences to their prospective MBA program, establishing themself as a name rather than a number.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?
The length of an MBA program can vary significantly depending on a person’s goals, schedule, and the type of program they choose. Individuals should carefully consider these factors to ensure they choose an MBA program that fits their needs and lifestyle. Additional factors that can influence how long it takes to get an MBA to include an individual’s chosen concentration and whether they pursue the degree online or on campus.
Deciding what type of MBA program to pursue will not only help individuals determine the program’s duration but what courses or concentrations may be available to them and what institutions align with their goals. Here is a list of five different MBA program types to help potential students determine which option is right for them.
- Full-time MBA programs usually take one to two years.
- Part-time programs can take anywhere from two to five years, depending on how many courses students take per semester.
- Executive MBA programs, intended for experienced professionals, are typically shorter, lasting one to two years.
- Accelerated MBA programs, which offer a more intensive course load, may also be more concise, lasting one to two years.
- Dual MBA programs, which allow individuals to earn an MBA and another advanced degree simultaneously, may take longer to complete, depending on the length of the other degree program.
The concentration an individual chooses for their MBA, such as finance or marketing, can also affect the length of the program. Some concentrations may require more coursework and take longer to complete, while others may reduce the time necessary by having a tighter and more focused courseload.
Pursuing an MBA online can also impact how long it takes to earn the degree. Online MBA programs typically offer more flexibility than on-campus programs, allowing individuals to complete coursework at their own pace. This flexibility can make it easier to balance work and school, but it can also extend the time necessary to complete the program.
Are MBAs Worth It?
While earning an MBA can be a significant undertaking, the potential benefits of increased earning power and career opportunities suggest MBAs are worth it for many individuals. The advanced degree can help professionals increase their influence in the business world through its focus on leadership and strategic thinking, which can give graduates the confidence and expertise needed to take on leadership roles and make informed decisions that impact their organizations.
Of course, one of the primary benefits of an MBA is the potential for increased compensation. According to data from Payscale, the median annual salary for an MBA holder was $94,000 as of December 2022, which is significantly higher than the $69,000 median annual salary of those who only hold a bachelor’s degree.
In addition to increased earning potential, another great reason to get an MBA is that it can provide individuals with opportunities to network with industry leaders and greater access to new career opportunities. The comprehensive business education an MBA program offers can make individuals more competitive in the job market and open doors to various industries. An MBA can also provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to advance within their current organization or transition into a new field.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an MBA?
The cost of earning an MBA can vary significantly depending on the school and program. On average, an MBA program will cost students $61,800, according to 2021 data from the Education Data Initiative. Online MBA programs may vary in cost, with some offering tuition discounts to online students. The exact amount will vary depending on the school, and students should consider the type of MBA program and its specifics before making a decision.
In addition to tuition, MBA students may also be responsible for ancillary costs such as textbooks, fees, and living expenses. These initial investment costs can ultimately be recouped through the benefits an MBA provides such as increased earning opportunities and greater flexibility in career changes or advancement. For individuals who need financial assistance, there are many methods for making tuition more affordable such as federal and private student loans and scholarships.
Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, can provide individuals with federal student loans, which may help with the financial burden of tuition. These loans may be beneficial because they offer flexible repayment options based on income that don’t require a strong credit history to apply. Private loans are another option if individuals don’t qualify for federal student loan options, or if they don’t cover the full cost of tuition.
Potential students should also consider corporate sponsorships, which allow them to offset some of the costs of tuition through reimbursement via their employer. Companies often partner with schools to incentivize their employees to pursue higher education. More companies are considering this option due to an increasing loss of employees looking to change roles or industries, according to findings by GMAC. Individuals should consult with their employer and potential school to determine if this cost-saving opportunity is an option.
Many schools provide scholarships to help MBA students afford tuition as well as other graduate-level expenditures. Typically, these scholarships are offered based on various considerations such as the individual’s financial needs, future goals, and academic and professional achievements.
The amount of scholarship funding can vary widely, with some covering the majority of tuition costs and others providing a more modest sum to offset some of the financial burdens of a graduate program. There are several types of MBA scholarships available to students.
- Individual colleges and universities may offer school-based scholarships, typically awarded based on academic performance, test scores, and other qualifications.
- Organizations or businesses may offer national scholarships open to candidates from around the country or the world. These awards may be based on similar criteria as school-based scholarships or may have additional requirements, such as a specific area of study or nonacademic qualifications.
- Partner schools or other organizations may offer military scholarships specifically for U.S. military veterans.
- Employers can provide workplace scholarships to their employees as an incentive to continue their education and may include tuition assistance or partnerships with academic institutions to secure discounted tuition rates.
To apply for a scholarship, individuals will typically need to complete an online application and submit documents such as transcripts, essays, reference letters, and personal information. It is essential to pay attention to deadlines and carefully review the requirements and qualifications for each scholarship to increase the chances of being selected.
Advance Your Career with an MBA
The current business environment is full of trends and challenges that present opportunities for businesses and professionals. An MBA degree reflects the acquisition of the knowledge and skill sets necessary to tackle these challenges, which is why getting an MBA can help you propel your career.
Those considering a career change or climbing the corporate ladder should consider Washington State University’s Online Master of Business Administration program. With a focus on real-world applications and a flexible online format, the program can help you pursue your professional goals while balancing your other commitments. The program also offers multiple concentrations, allowing students to specialize in fields such as finance, marketing, and international business.
Discover what opportunities await you in the world of business with Washington State University.