This past year has been a turbulent one for many people around the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing increases in unemployment and financial struggles as well as disruptions to our social lives. Consequently, you may well be thinking about how you can give your skills and qualifications a boost to ensure that your levels of employability and financial stability remain as high as possible in the future. Of course, there are lots of different routes you could go down if you’re thinking of going back to college level study, and the right program for you will depend on a number of factors including your background, interests and career aspirations. However, one option that is definitely worth considering is an MBA.
This article will go into more detail about what exactly an MBA is, who the qualification is suitable for, and the benefits of studying for one. Hopefully this will help you to figure out if this is the right path for you to take.
What is an MBA?
An MBA is a Master’s course in Business Administration, and it’s one of the most prestigious postgraduate qualifications available in the business sphere. It’s a rigorous and challenging program designed to provide you with an overview of various key business practices in order to enable you to fast-track your career to the next level.
An MBA program can normally be completed in one or two years depending on whether you study on a full-time or part-time basis. Many of the part-time courses are held on evenings and weekends to allow you to learn at the same time as working, so that your career doesn’t have to be put on hold while you study.
Rather than being a purely academic qualification like lots of other Master’s degrees, an MBA intends to help you to develop real world skills that you can immediately put into practice in your professional life.
Who is an MBA suitable for?
The practical, hands-on nature of the MBA means this is a qualification best-suited for those who have a few years of work experience under their belt, rather than those who have just graduated. In fact, most colleges will make such an experience a requirement for enrolment onto the course. Having said that, don’t despair if you don’t have a lot of experience yet – there are courses out there specifically aimed at recent graduates or those making a career change, so you’re sure to find something suitable for you. Likewise, if you are already working at a managerial level or higher, you might want to look for what’s known as an Executive MBA, created especially for those in your position.
One of the great aspects of MBA programs is that they are generally open to a very wide variety of people. You are normally required to have an undergraduate degree, but this can be in pretty much any subject. Even if you don’t have a degree, as long as you have enough professional experience then you may well still be able to enroll. All of this means that even if you have never formally studied business before, the option to take an MBA is still open to you. Finally, while it’s true that an MBA is an expensive course, there are plenty of scholarships available that are worth pursuing so don’t let the price tag make you feel like you’re not suited to the program.
What kind of topics will I study on an MBA?
The purpose of an MBA is to prepare you for high-powered roles within the business world, regardless of the specific company or industry that you want to work in. As such you have the opportunity to study a wide variety of topics during the program. The course will normally be structured as a series of modules, some of which will be compulsory for all students and others that you will be able to choose from a list of optional modules.
The precise titles that you have available to you will vary according to the institution that you enroll with, and therefore the module list is one factor to consider when deciding where to study – you can click here for some more advice on what to look for in an MBA program. As a rough guide, however, the following list gives you an idea of the types of topics that you are likely to cover:
- Leading and Implementing Change
- Business Ethics
- Business Analytics
- Organizational Behavior
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- Critical Leadership Decisions
- Business Strategy
- Digital Business
- International Business
- Big Data
- Sustainability in Business
- Brand Management
- Creativity in Business
- Pricing Strategy and Tactics
- Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances
Some programs have a specialism in a particular area of business, with modules focusing, for example, on healthcare or engineering, while others are general and cover all aspects of the business world.
In addition to these types of academic modules, you will likely also complete at least one major project during the program. This will involve working on a real-world issue that affects a real business, giving you the chance to get some practical experience and work deeply on a topic that you are particularly interested in or is especially relevant to your career aspirations.
What is it like to study for an MBA?
Depending on your previous study experience, an MBA might be a little different to what you’re used to. Of course there will be reading, lectures, exams and assignments, but there will also be a lot of group work, case studies and real-world projects. You can expect the program to be fast-paced and with a heavy workload, but also extremely insightful and a fantastic primer for the rest of your professional life. Basically, if you put in the time and hard work, you can expect to be richly rewarded!
Depending on where you study, you might also have the opportunity to participate in other projects and competitions, work on setting up your own startup, study abroad, or undertake an internship at an external company. Be sure to make the most of every chance that’s offered to you, because many of them will be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities! Studying at business school gives you access to people and resources that you won’t find anywhere else, and this is one of the major benefits of studying for an MBA.
What are the benefits of studying for an MBA?
Speaking of benefits, there are a huge number of them when it comes to studying for an MBA. Firstly, it’s an extremely prestigious qualification that’s recognized around the world, and highly valued by employers. By completing the program you can expect to be able to progress to much higher level job roles within your chosen industry, and earn a correspondingly higher salary. Thus it gives you a competitive edge and greatly boosts your credibility, employability, job security and financial stability.
Likewise an MBA opens many new doors for you. This is not only in terms of qualifying you for better jobs, but also in terms of the opportunities it provides. One of the major benefits of studying for an MBA is the chance it gives you to network. You’ll be studying as part of a cohort of like-minded, driven and passionate professionals who may well become lifelong friends and even future colleagues or business partners. Beyond that you’ll also have the chance to network with industry professionals at special events during your studies, and even work directly with companies on consulting projects.
Plus of course, doing an MBA will vastly expand your business knowledge and abilities, meaning that you will be much better equipped to succeed in whatever job role you progress to. You can also expect to see big developments in your so-called soft skills, such as confidence, leadership, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making, creativity, time management, organization and analytical thinking.
Can I study for an MBA online?
For lots of people, studying for an MBA is a dream, but they can’t afford to quit their job in order to realize it. Luckily, these days as well as having the choice to study part-time, you can also study for an MBA entirely online. This is an ideal option if you have to fit your studies around work and family commitments, or if you want to study at an institution that’s far from where you live.
Online study gives you the chance to study at a time, place and pace that suits you, without sacrificing the quality of education that you receive. You will still develop all the requisite skills, and have the chance to network with your fellow students – just in a virtual way instead! Of course it might require you to have a little more self discipline and organization in comparison to a campus-based program, however, those are skills that are worth developing anyway.
Plus, employers don’t look down on online degree programs in the way that perhaps they did in the past either, so you’ll enjoy the same boost to your job prospects as you would if you completed a more traditional course in person.