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What Can You Do With an MBA?

Subash  Bijlani
By Subash Bijlani

This article was originally published October 10, 2022, and was updated to reflect changes to UMGC’s MBA program.

The Master of Business Administration (MBA), like other master's programs, is rewarding but intensive. It requires motivation, focus, and time to commit to the course load.  

MBA programs vary in structure. Some MBA degree programs cater to younger, full-time students who are at the start of their careers while others are designed for working adults who need to balance their studies with the demands of work and family. If you are a working adult, look for a flexible online program that allows you to study on your own time and learn at your own pace. These programs are sometimes more affordable than their on-campus counterparts and let you take classes from anywhere.

What is an MBA?

The MBA is a specialized graduate degree with a focus on leadership and management skills. It is the most popular graduate management degree. The MBA focuses on the application of theories to real-world business issues. It provides fundamental knowledge and practical applications of business concepts, such as leadership, finance and accounting, legal and ethical issues, marketing, strategy, and developing business plans. 

Through team projects, peer learning, and class discourse, MBA candidates can also develop a number of "soft" skills essential to business professionals, such as persuasion, team building, negotiation techniques, organizational behavior, and others.

What do MBA programs require?

Admission requirements vary from one MBA program to another. However, there are a few general prerequisites common to most MBA programs.

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution: There is no typical MBA student, so you don’t necessarily have to have an undergraduate business degree. MBA classes are often filled with students from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.

  • Entrance exams: Many MBA programs, particularly at business schools, require applicants to complete the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). However, there are some MBA programs where entrance exam scores are not required or where that requirement can be waived based on an applicant's work experience and undergraduate GPA. At UMGC, there’s no requirement for GMAT or GRE scores.  

  • Work experience: Business schools often require some description of your work history. MBA admissions officers generally like to see evidence of career progression, motivation, and the ability to learn from your experience. It's also helpful if applicants have success stories about how they were able to contribute to their current company, past employers, college campus, or local community.

Is getting an MBA worth it? 

There is certainly a high demand for MBA graduates in business. By earning an MBA, you can build a foundation for a new career path or prepare yourself for better, often higher-paying opportunities. You can also gain functional job skills and a well recognized credential to attract recruiters and hiring managers in a variety of fields.

On the other hand, an MBA represents a major investment in time and money. Tuition fees for an MBA program can vary anywhere from $20,000 to more than $100,000. Depending on the school you choose, an MBA can take 18 to 24 months to complete. Whether the benefits of earning an MBA are worth the cost depends primarily on what you plan to do with it.

At UMGC, you can earn an online MBA in as little as 16 months, for about $21,000. You can develop and advance your competencies in business administration and apply what you learn to real-life business problems. Plus, all MBA course materials are available as no-cost electronic resources through UMGC's online classroom, so you won’t have to pay for a single textbook. Your courses are taught by our faculty of highly successful and experienced scholar-practitioners who are leaders in their fields.

An MBA is not the right fit for everyone. Even with the specializations offered in an MBA, you may find other degree programs better aligned with your career objectives. But, for those who plan to work in a business-related field, in a senior management role, or as an entrepreneur, the benefits can make earning an MBA one of the best investments you can make.

The benefits of an MBA

An MBA develops your leadership and business skills and can help you move up into senior roles in an organization, often at higher annual salaries.

Personal skills development: The knowledge and competencies acquired in an MBA program, such as analysis, planning, and leadership skills, often extend beyond professional work and can be applied to your personal life as well. These include communication skills, financial management, networking, and time management.

Specialized management skills: In addition to the core subjects taught in an MBA, many business schools offer specialized electives in various areas of the business world, such as marketing, finance, operations, human resources, healthcare, and others.

Increased job opportunities: Recruiters and companies often look for knowledge of management practices as well as interpersonal and leadership skills. Earning an MBA can provide you with the experience, expertise, and connections needed to succeed in business. It allows you to gain an advantage for job interviews or promotions and can help you break through to the next level of your career.

What jobs can you get with an MBA?

As an MBA graduate, your business degree can open doors across a variety of industries, such as finance, accounting, banking, consulting, marketing, human resources, technology, and healthcare. The strategic and leadership skills you can obtain are in high demand across multiple sectors, including manufacturing, service, non-profit, and government.

An MBA can help prepare you for a career as a marketing manager, business intelligence analyst, operations manager, management analyst, or program director, as well as various “C-level” positions, (i.e., CEO, CFO, COO, etc.). If you are an entrepreneur, it can help you run your business more effectively. As a veteran, your MBA can enable you to transition into managerial positions in civilian life.

While an MBA may bring a higher annual salary and enhance your business opportunities, it requires a significant time and financial commitment. Clarifying your career and life goals and assessing your motivation to pursue an MBA is an important first step.

Reference on this webpage to any third-party entity or product does not constitute or imply endorsement by UMGC nor does it constitute or imply endorsement of UMGC by the third party.