What Is an MBA Degree?

What Is an MBA Degree?

Erudera's Complete Guide to Getting Your MBA Degree

An MBA degree is a graduate business degree and it is one of the most prestigious degrees worldwide. MBA degrees aim to teach students leadership, technical, and managerial skills which ultimately place MBA holders in various work industries.

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MBA Meaning: What Does MBA Stand For?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. The term MBA was first introduced in 1908 in the United States, at the Harvard University Graduate School of Administration (today known as Harvard Business School). A total of 47 students graduated from the first class.

After the U.S., the second country that awarded MBA degrees was Canada, at the University of Western Ontario. Gradually, the MBA programs have evolved, and now thousands of students are able to pursue an MBA degree anywhere in the world.

Is an MBA Worth It?

With the career opportunities offered to MBA graduates, pursuing an MBA is definitely worth it. If you are wondering what is an MBA degree good for, consider the following:

Enhanced Marketability

An MBA degree can help you in advancing both your personal and professional goals. This will make you even more likable to future employers. Whatsmore, during your MBA studies you will develop and deepen your business expertise. You will also have access to an outstanding network which in turn will optimize your post-MBA life.

Increased Earning Potential

Countles industries are ready to hire MBA graduates. Although MBA degrees require a significant financial investment, often MBA students turn this investment in salary earnings after graduation. Once you earn your MBA degree, you will qualify for job roles that will allow you to earn more than people with a bachelor’s degree alone.

Skill Development

An MBA program focuses in refining business skills that lead to professional success. During your studies, your lecturers will help you develop managerial, leadership, and communication skills. You will also learn how to thrive under pressure and rebound quickly — skills that are needed in every working environment.

MBA Degree vs Masters

MBA degrees as well as Master’s degrees are both postgraduate degrees awarded to students pursuing. The curriculum of an MBA program mainly revolves around business management, and it focuses on professionals that aim to have a strong foundation in business. MBA students also tend to experience more experiential learning.

Generally, master’s degrees fall into Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS). The Master of Arts category includes the field of humanities, art, and social sciences. Master of Science on the other hand includes mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science etc. Master’s degrees usually distinguish you from candidates with only a bachelor’s degree.

The biggest difference between MBA degrees and Masters degree in Business is that they approach different target groups. Generally, MBA programs require applicants to have full-time work experience, which is not always the case with master’s degrees in business. Additionally, the cost of an MBA degree tends to be considerably higher.

Types of MBA Degrees

MBA programs today offer more flexible options than ever before.

  • Full-time MBA. Full-time MBA programs can take 1 to 2 years to complete. If you choose to pursue an MBA full-time, you will not be able to work full-time during your studies.

  • Part-time MBA. Pursuing an MBA part-time is best if you wish to continue working while you complete your studies. One of disadvantages of pursuing an MBA part-time is that it takes longer to complete than a full-time MBA program.

  • Executive MBA. Executive MBA programs are designed for students with an excessive professional background. Sometimes students that pursue Executive MBAs are company sponsored.

  • Online MBA. MBA programs are also offered online. This learning format will allow you to continue your career following a flexible schedule. Most of the time, your geographical location does not matter when attending an MBA online. Read more about Online MBA Without GMAT.

  • Joint or Dual Degree. MBA programs are offered in combination with other full-time programs. Usually, students that choose this option are individuals that are looking to switch careers. Dual degrees take from 3 to 4 years to complete.

Types of MBA Specializations

MBA degrees are known for giving students a wide range of specialization opportunities. As new industries and trends have emerged, business schools have adapted and created new specializations to meet the market’s demand.

Some of the most popular MBA specializations are:

  1. General Management
  2. MBA in Finance
  3. MBA in Marketing
  4. MBA in Business Analytics
  5. MBA in Consulting
  6. MBA in Entrepreneurship
  7. MBA in Human Resources
  8. MBA in International Business
  9. MBA in IT or Technology

MBA Admission Requirements

Admission requirements to an MBA program differ from one country to another, as well as from one university to another. However, there are some general similarities in MBA requirements around the world:

Academic Qualifications

To be eligible for admission to an MBA program you must have earned an undergraduate degree. Your academic background does not necessarily have to be business-related. Part of the admissions requirements is your GPA, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and your CV. If you have a low GPA, you can take additional business courses and this will show the admissions committee that you can succeed in advanced business courses.

GMAT or GRE Scores

Most business schools around the world require that prospective students submit GMAT or GRE scores — a large number of which prefer GMAT over GRE scores. These test scores are used by the admissions committee to predict your academic performance in an MBA program. GMAT or GRE scores are used as a baseline to which the admissions committee compares prospective students with one another.

More on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Related: MBA Without GMAT

Work Experience

Work experience is probably one of the most important factors of an MBA application since not all universities accept applicants without any type of work experience. Generally, business schools require that prospective students have from 1 to 5 years of work experience prior to applying for an MBA. If you do not have any actual work experience, internships or leadership positions that you have taken prior to applying can support your application greatly.

Language Proficiency

Language proficiency is one of the requirements for students pursuing an MBA internationally. Depending on the country in which you are going to pursue your MBA studies, you might be asked to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or CAE scores as proof of English language proficiency — if English is the language of instruction in your chosen university. If you choose to study in a language that is not your native, or English, you must provide proof of certain language proficiency.


Studying abroad comes with another requirement and that is obtaining a visa. Although this depends on the country of your origin and your target country. If you want to get an MBA in Europe, depending on your nationality, you might be required to apply for a student visa. If that is the case, it is preferable to start with the visa application process as soon as you receive your admission letter as it can be a lengthy process. You can apply for a visa in the Embassy of your target country (located in your country) or the consulate that has jurisdiction over your home country.

Financial Resources

Having enough funds to cover the cost of your studies is crucial, especially if you are going to apply for a visa. If you are a student that needs a visa, you must provide proof of financial stability to be eligible for an MBA program. Usually, each country has an estimated amount that is needed to cover both tuition and living expenses while abroad.


Some schools include interviews as part of the admission requirements. Interviews are used by the admissions committee to gain additional information on particular areas of interest. Some schools use the interview to assess your interpersonal and communication skills. If you cannot travel to the target country for the interview, you might be offered the opportunity to have the interview via Skype or other online platforms.

Check out our in-depth guide on this topic: MBA Admission Requirements and Application Process.

How Much Does an MBA Cost?

Tuition fees for MBA programs differ between countries, so the cost of tuition comes at different price points. Some factors that can affect the cost of your MBA program include your enrollment status, program type, and school type.

Here’s the cost range of MBA programs in some of the top study destinations:

Country Average Cost Range (USD/year)
United States Up to $100,000
United Kingdom $23,140– $119,638
Spain $1,049 – $21,854/semester
Germany $3,860 – $49,990
Canada $21,135– $48,310

Remember, there are various funding options available to help finance your MBA education. Find the different MBA funding alternatives in our guide here.

How Long Does an MBA Take?

If you are wondering how long does it take to get an MBA, know that it all depends on the type of MBA program you plan to pursue. There are also many variables to consider which may impact the duration of your MBA program.

Considering that each student has their own needs, MBA programs can be offered in a range of formats and delivery options. These include:

Types of MBA Programs Duration
Full-time MBA 1-2 Years
Part-time MBA 2-6 Years
Executive MBA 2 Years or Less
Online (Distance Learning) MBA) 10-20 Months
Joint or Dual Degree 3-4 Years

What Does an MBA Teach You?

Typically, an MBA program includes classes in finance, economics, accounting, marketing, organizational behavior, and business and management ethics. The curriculum of MBA programs best suits students or professionals who have a clear direction of the future of their careers.

Employees look for interpersonal, communication, leadership, entrepreneurial, strategic, time management, technical, and teamwork skills in MBA graduates. With these in mind, business schools adapt their MBA programs in a way that helps students best develop all the above-mentioned skills.

Do you want to explore this topic in more depth? We've got you. Check our guide on the valuable skills you earn during an MBA program.

What Jobs Can You Get With an MBA?

MBA programs promise a high caliber of job opportunities and a distinguished network regardless of the country in which you earn your degree. An MBA degree from a well-established business school can secure you a high-paying job not only nationally but internationally as well.

Jobs after an MBA include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Project Manager
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Industry Analyst
  • Transportation Director
  • Finance Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Market Research Analyst

What is the Average MBA Salary?

Apart from increasing your job prospects, an MBA degree will increase your earning potential. Your salary also depends on the job position you take after graduation.

Average salaries for some MBA jobs include:

Position UK US Canada Germany Spain
Project Manager £61,025 ($81,060) $88,734 CAD 84,680 (USD 66,225) €79,000 ($89,790) €48,312 ($53,610)
Senior Business Analyst £50,558 ($67,172) $86,728 CAD 85,360 (USD 66,748) €64,300 ($71,320) €42,060 ($46,673)
Manager £42,845 ($56,927) $56,655 CAD 68,225 (USD 53,620) €73,380 ($81,390) €61,500 ($68,245)
Human Resources Manager £36,045 ($47,892) $69,406 CAD 76,350 (USD 59,703) €112,000 ($127,290) €43,817 ($48,620)
Financial Analyst £34,000 ($45,175) $62,568 CAD 61,270 (USD 47,911) €48,577 ($53,880) €29,735 ($32,990)
Accountant £29,714 ($39,480) $52,442 CAD 52,974 (USD 41,635) €39,517 ($43,838) €25,480 ($28,270)
Executive Director £78,430 ($104,210) $81,010 CAD 74,374 (USD 58,455) €99,990 ($110,925) €80,000 ($88,767)

Can You Get an MBA Without a Business Degree?

Yes, it is possible to get an MBA even if your undergraduate degree is not business-related. Actually, a large number of MBA graduates do not come from an undergraduate business background. So, there is not only one background that falls in line with pursuing an MBA program.

Although a background in business might be helpful to comprehend the program’s curriculum, many universities offer preparatory courses for prospective students. These courses are designed specifically for students who, up until their admission, have had little or no exposure to finance, accounting, or statistics.

In addition to this, business schools perceive non-business-degree students as an asset that brings diversity to classroom discussions. Non-business-degrees students also bring their unique perspectives and opinions on business-related matters. So your non-business background can prove to be helpful throughout the admissions process.