If you’re interested in a business career, you might be considering an MBA. But what is an MBA and what is involved in obtaining one? Are there any personal or career benefits to pursuing this course of study? Who hires MBA graduates anyway?
To help you better understand the benefits of an MBA, we’re going to outline the different formats that MBA programs can take, the standard curriculum and structure of an MBA program, as well as some employment-related statistics.
What is an MBA?
Let’s start with the basics: what does MBA stand for? It stands for Master of Business Administration. This is a program designed for individuals with work experience who are looking to advance their career. This could mean they’re looking to start their own business venture or perhaps want to take on a managerial position at their current place of employment.
MBA programs accept students from a range of academic backgrounds, not only those who have earned an undergraduate degree in business. While there is a minimum amount of work experience you need to have in order to be accepted to MBA programs – usually about 2 years – they also welcome applicants from diverse employment backgrounds. In fact, they often encourage applicants from a variety of industries to apply! It provides a diversity of perspectives which adds depth to classroom discussions and projects, as well as insights from the real business world.
Since MBA programs are designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge-base to accelerate your career, they highlight the importance of networking and provide many opportunities to facilitate it. For example, Ivey’s MBA program connects students with career advisors and hosts several events, including industry-specific networking forums during which you can connect with alumni and other professionals. These vital interactions can help you establish strong bonds and build your network early on.
There are a few different MBA program options, each of which is designed with a different audience in mind. In particular, while there’s some overlap, each option has a distinct format and program length. The following table provides an overview of each MBA program option, including who they’re designed for, their format, and the length of time it takes to complete them:
*Accelerated MBA programs are not offered by all business schools, although they are exceedingly common at Canadian universities. Think of them as a compressed part-time MBA program. They’re still designed with working students in mind, but the program is completed in a shorter period of time.
MBA curricula are composed of a combination of core courses and electives. The core courses included in most MBA programs relate to the following subjects:
- Business ethics & strategy
- Economics, accounting, and finance
- Data analytics
Usually, MBA students complete their core courses in the first half of the program and spend the remaining time completing their electives. While you can pursue a general MBA, you can also pursue a specialization in areas such as healthcare management, business analytics, or human resources. Programs provide modules – a list of the electives that fulfill the requirements of each specialization – that you can use as guides when selecting your electives. For example, take a look at the Rotman School of Business’ list of specializations.
Some programs, such as Ivey Business School’s MBA program, allow you to pursue a specialization beyond the ones they offer! In this case, you would create your own module and pursue the electives that allow you to develop the necessary skills and knowledge-base to meet your specific career goals.
Near the end of MBA programs, there is typically a major project – often referred to as a capstone project or a field project – which assesses the skills that you’ve developed over the course of the program by requiring you to use them in a practical setting. While the specific details of the project differ from program to program, you usually have the option to complete one of two assignments:
- Work with an existing organization to develop solutions to a real-world problem they face
- Develop your own business venture
Many programs, such as the Sauder School of Business’ MBA program, have also included an optional travel component in which you consult for companies abroad. Pursuing these travel opportunities challenges you by testing your skills in an international context while also expanding your network on a global scale!
Benefits of Pursuing an MBA
Earning an MBA allows you the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge-base necessary to succeed in business. It also gives you a head start on building your network, both within your peer group as well as with alumni and other established entrepreneurs. Maintaining regular contact with members of this network will help you when seeking future employment, collaboration, or investment opportunities.
Having an MBA also helps you stand out to recruiters and increases your chances for employment. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) conducts their Corporate Recruiters Survey (CRS) on an annual basis in order to gather data on hiring trends for the previous year as well as projected trends for the following year. In the 2021 survey, 91% of recruiters indicated that they were planning to hire MBA graduates in the coming year. These recruiters worked in a range of industries, including finance, accounting, technology, and consulting.
The CRS also gathers data on salary trends. Their reports consistently demonstrate that MBA graduates have significantly higher median salaries than those with an undergraduate degree as their highest level of education. As reported in the 2021 survey, the median salary of MBA graduates was about $115,000 USD, while those with an undergraduate degree earned $65,000. In other words, MBA graduates earned 77% more than those with undergraduate degrees.
In addition to the salary benefits, an MBA also prepares you for careers ranging from analyst to managerial positions in a variety of industries including the following:
- Health Sector
That’s all the information we have for you today!
If you found this content informative and you’d like to learn about the MBA application process, check out our MBA Do’s and Don’ts and the information we share on the GMAT to better understand what applying to an MBA program entails.
Still unsure whether an MBA is the right path for you? Book a free consultation with one of our experts. We’ll answer all of your MBA questions and help you get started on the path to meeting your career goals.