An MBA is, in the strictest sense, a masters degree, but unlike a Master of Arts or Master of Science, is a Master of Business Administration. The MBA is not an academic degree but rather a professional degree like an MPA degree. It focuses on the professional responsibilities of those in business administration roles, unlike a masters degree, which usually focuses on theory and research. Those in masters programs often study full time or work as university research assistants, whereas many MBA programs, especially online, are designed for those already working.
MBA program requirements for admission
MBA program requirements sometimes differ from those for academic masters degrees. These programs may require students to have work experience in a business capacity or strongly prefer those with work experience. They also often require the student to take the GMAT exam for admission, while a masters degree most often requires the GRE. GPA requirements are comparable, though strong work experience or GMAT scores can make up for a weak academic record in the case of an MBA application.
The MBA admissions process is not that different from the masters in other respects. Both a traditional masters degree and an MBA will require you to get letters of recommendation from those who are familiar with your academic or business background. Both will also require you to have at least a bachelors degree, though it is easier to get an MBA with a bachelors outside of business than a masters degree with a bachelors outside that academic field. Additionally, both will require you to provide a statement of intent regarding your interest in the degree program.
Coursework and program format
MBA programs are more likely to be available online than academic masters degrees, though this is not an absolute. When deciding to earn an MBA, you should make sure that you consider your potential schedule in choosing whether to study for an MBA in a traditional classroom setting or in an online program. These programs allow you to learn at whatever time you choose, though they are not exempt from the strict schedules that many MBAs follow.
Another scheduling option is an executive MBA program. Executive MBAs are programs designed for busy professionals that involve weekend courses rather than weekday courses. These programs are more intensive than traditional MBAs but require less time investment during the workweek, which can make them an attractive option for those who are busy Monday through Friday.
Coursework for MBA programs usually involves advanced business concepts. Rather than emphasizing academic theory like a traditional masters degree, an MBA focuses on practical skills such as organizational design, finance, management and marketing. MBA programs also strongly emphasize networking and help MBA students find professional connections in whatever their chosen field may be.
What you can do with an MBA
While masters degrees provide some amount of networking and skills, the MBA focuses more on professional development. As a result, the MBA degree leads more directly into career paths. Students in MBA programs have opportunities to go to MBA conferences and network with professionals in business fields while studying for their degrees, giving them a better chance of finding jobs once they have completed the program.
Additionally, MBA graduates often have more work experience than those with masters degrees, as many MBA programs are designed for those already working. As a result, MBA students have more opportunities to use their knowledge and develop a portfolio that can lead to a career path later on.
Finally, the emphasis of MBA programs on skill development rather than academic knowledge means that MBA graduates often have more clearly applicable abilities in the business world than those with other masters degrees. While a masters program may touch on issues of organizational theory, an MBA will discuss practical management techniques, giving the degree the edge in business management and administration jobs.