A Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is a graduate school degree program that provides students with the core knowledge necessary to take on an executive or managerial role at an enterprise. Graduates of MBA programs often go on to take higher level leadership roles at either their current company or a new employer. Some graduates use the skills and networking connections gained from their MBA education to start their own organizations.
The first MBA program was established by Harvard Business School in 1908 and was based on managerial science education developed throughout the 19th century. The standard MBA program is a full-time two-year commitment, however students may continue working or earn their degree faster through alternative options, such as an online MBA or accelerated MBA program.
For senior level managers, there is also the Executive MBA (EMBA), which typically requires at least 10 years of work experience and is administered part time over the course of two years.
MBA programs require that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree. While most applicants to full-time MBA programs have three to five years of work experience, some top-ranked business schools expect more. In addition to submitting a transcript, recommendations and in most cases the completion of an interview MBA candidates are typically required to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).
The MBA is one of the most multi-disciplinary graduate degrees and includes elements of organizational behavior, economics, strategy, communications and more. Most MBA programs require students to take a variety of classes in core business areas such as finance and marketing, particularly during the first year, but later allow for specialization in elective fields, like entrepreneurship, health management and real estate. Oftentimes, alternatives to an MBA are considered to be MPA/MPP degrees or law degrees (JD or an LLM). Learn about the differences between them and which degree is right for you.