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What is an MBA in Business Administration?

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is a postbaccalaureate degree program that prepares graduates for leadership roles in business and industry. Featuring courses in accounting, finance, organizational behavior, business strategy, and corporate accountability, the MBA delivers cross-functional knowledge and training. Because MBA graduates are well-versed in all facets of business, many view the degree as a necessary tool for career advancement.

Now is a better time than ever to earn an MBA. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial operations jobs will increase by 8% through 2024. This is expected to be particularly true in the financial and banking sector due to increased government compliance regulations and consumer demand for transparency.

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Because MBA graduates are well-versed in all facets of business, many view the degree as a necessary tool for career advancement.

Advances in technology have revolutionized the way we do business. As the industry has changed, approaches to sound business practices have continued to gain steam, and employers increasingly believe that a solid understanding of these factors can only be achieved at the master’s level or above. An undergraduate degree is no longer all it takes to be competitive in the workplace. As you’ll see in the table below, undergraduate degree salary returns also pale in comparison.

Comparison of Business Administration Master’s Degrees

There is no shortage of graduate degree programs tailored to the needs and goals of aspiring business leaders. These programs are designed to be convenient for working adults to complete, delivering advanced knowledge and leadership training that’s often specific to a particular industry or area of interest. Depending on one’s career goals, a more specific master’s program may be appropriate. Other students, however, may find that an online MBA in business administration provides a comprehensive framework that leads to a satisfying career.

Degree Description Average Salary* Length
Master’s of Construction Management A master’s of construction management is a multidisciplinary degree program that focuses on highly technical management principles and techniques applicable to commercial construction. Executives in this industry collaborate with other professionals across a wide breadth of specialties, including architecture, building, contracting, real estate, engineering, and project management. $52,000 1-2 Years
Master’s of Marketing & Management This master’s degree emphasizes the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to meet a business’s marketing objective. The program delivers a thorough review of marketing strategies, media and technology, research and analytics, and product management. This degree is ideal for executives who aspire to lead marketing departments in any industry. $58,000 1-2 Years
Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) The general MBA prepares its graduates for management roles in all sectors of industry. Employing a cross-disciplinary approach, these programs explore the business functions essential for success in today’s economy: accounting, finance, business law, ethics, marketing, strategic planning, organizational behavior, and leadership. In many cases, MBA students concentrate their studies on specific industries or skillsets that match their career goals. $54,000 18-36 Months

Every business administration online MBA program designs its own curriculum, but they all work toward the same goal: to equip graduates with a working knowledge of specific core competencies. Below, we offer a sample online MBA business administration curriculum, and illustrate how this knowledge translates in the workplace.

Course Competencies Developed Occupational Skill Level
Financial Modeling Use quantitative models for financial decision-making. Perform financial statement analysis. Apply corporate finance theory and advanced Excel skills to forecast potential outcomes. Calculate time value of money, cash flows, regressions, risk analysis, options, equity valuation, and stock portfolio growth.

TITLE: Vice President, Finance

SALARY: growth of 10%

Strategic Marketing Create target customer profiles and determine target needs. Develop strategies to bring products to that market with attractive promotions. Measure, analyze and refine marketing efforts. Develop data-driven pricing and promotional plans.

TITLE: Marketing Manager

SALARY: growth of 11%

Corporate Communications Deliver essential information that is easily understood, appropriately detailed, grammatically sound, and structured for its intended audience. Communication styles include written, spoken, and mixed media.

TITLE: Director of Communications

SALARY: growth of 21%

Organizational Behavior Establish productive relationships with peers. Effectively manage subordinates. Promote company culture’s role in its success. Lead teams effectively.

TITLE: Director of Operations

SALARY: growth of 11%

Ethics and Compliance Develop, implement, and maintain programs in accordance with regulatory compliance requirements. Identify ethical issues and propose solutions. Mitigate risk via transparency.

TITLE: Compliance Officer

SALARY: growth of 9%

Depending on personal interests and natural aptitude, an online MBA in business administration can lead to an upwardly mobile career in a number of specialty areas. Here, we’ve listed five senior-level positions to which MBA candidates can aspire. While all salaries are impressive, their range reflects differing levels of personal responsibility and professional certification.

Director, Communications Median Salary: $72,000
  • Corporate offices in businesses of any size in any industry
  • Nonprofits
  • Government agencies
Collaborate with senior executive to develop messaging. Direct company public relations efforts, including crisis response. Manage media coverage. Oversee communications team.
Manager, Marketing and Promotions Median Salary: $62,500
  • Corporate offices in businesses of any size in any industry that brings a product to market
  • Advertising agencies
Collaborate with product management to bring products to market with attractive promotions. Oversee concept development, design, production, implementation and analytics of marketing campaigns. Manage marketing team.
Vice President, Finance Median Salary: $134,500
  • Banks
  • Insurance firms
  • Investment and financial services firms
  • Medium to large companies in any industry
Plan, implement and coordinate budgets. Develop strategic plans for financial growth. Manage investments. Oversee production of financial reporting. Manage accounting team.
Director, Business Operations Median Salary: $93,600
  • Corporate offices in businesses of any size in any industry
Direct and oversee daily business activities, including policy development, human resource strategy, resource allocation, contract negotiation, and project management.
Chief Compliance Officer Median Salary: $113,000
  • Corporate offices in firms of any size in any industry
  • Consulting firms
  • Industrial settings like plants or factories
Ensure that external regulatory legislation and internal policy rules are met. Identify risks, design programs to mitigate risk, and report status to senior executives.
To keep up with market demand, the MBA in business administration is one of the most popular online programs available. Browse our comprehensive directory of schools offering this degree HERE.

If you’ve decided that an MBA in business administration is right for you, then it is time to start narrowing down the list of schools you are interested in. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you through this process.

  • Search for schools in your area

    Even though you are looking for online programs, it can be helpful to choose a school that is within a 100 mile radius of your home. Online students often report that they enjoy having the ability to visit campus if they want to. In addition, schools often partner with local businesses, meaning a school in your area will have a better chance of helping you find a job close to home.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Many schools will readily provide this information on their website; however, if you can’t find it, be sure to contact the school and ask for it. This data should include graduation rates, employment rates, and the compensation levels of recent graduates. When looked at side-by-side, this information can give you an easy glimpse of program quality.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Prospective students often underestimate the total cost of their program. Make sure you calculate the total number of credit hours you will need to graduate, and multiply that by cost per credit hour. Do not forget to include the cost of supplies, internet, and time you will spend not earning an income. Additionally, compare financial aid options, different schools may offer better financial aid packages and/or scholarships that can offset the cost of education.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    One of the central benefits of online education is flexibility. However, some programs will require set meeting times, synchronous workshops, and mandatory campus visits. Be sure that you are aware of all time commitments and that they will fit into your current schedule.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses/hospitals

    The main objective of getting your MBA in Human Resources is to find a secure job with a healthy salary in a field you enjoy. To that end, attending school that is well connected with local hospitals and businesses can be a fantastic leg up upon graduation. Many of these partners will offer internships to students that can lead to full-time employment or provide the network and experience you need to get a job elsewhere.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation is the formal review process that ensures a school is offering a reputable program adhering to minimum academic standards. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the national agency that accredits for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs in business and accounting. By checking a program’s status with the AACSB, you can be confident you are receiving a recognized, quality degree. Employers generally will not hire job candidates who possess a degree from a school that is not accredited, and schools will not accept academic credentials from an unaccredited program.

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    One of the best resources when it comes to making a final decision on an online MBA in Human Resources program is actual students and graduates. They can give you an unbiased, real-world take on how the program has served them, what they have liked, and what they have disliked. Ask an admissions counselor to put you in touch with a current student or recent alumni. Alternatively, use LinkedIn or Facebook to find and reach out to people.

Business administration is by definition a multidisciplinary field. Within these disciplines, professional credentials demonstrate that an individual has met a standard of knowledge and skills that are applicable to specific roles. Some roles require certification or licensure; controllers and auditors, for example, must be CPAs. In other positions, employers may expect a particular credential even though it isn’t legally required (this is often the case in, for example, project management). Some online MBA in business administration programs make it possible to earn professional certification during one’s course of study, while others require additional study or exams. Below, we’ve listed a small sample of the credentials available to a business administration online MBA candidate.

Liscense Description
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) The CPA credential is required by all states for professional licensure. In addition, only CPAs may perform federally mandated audits of publicly traded companies. Controllers, financial officers, and securities analysts are required to hold CPA licensure.
Project Management Professional (PMP) Considered the industry gold standard, the PMP credential is based on rigorous training and testing. This certification is useful for any executive who leads cross-functional teams.
Lean Six Sigma The Six Sigma family of certifications is based on process improvement that leads to efficiency and cost savings. Practitioners of the method identify weak organizational areas, analyze them, and seek to improve them, ultimately strengthening the company. Employers hold these four credentials in high regard.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Arguably one of the most difficult professional designations to earn in business, the CFA credential guarantees advanced knowledge in investment analysis and portfolio management. Any senior-level finance executive can benefit from holding CFA charter.

While scholarships at the graduate level aren’t plentiful, they are available to the diligent researcher. Pursuing external scholarships can be time well spent, particularly for a distance learner unable to defray costs by working on campus. External scholarships vary widely in size and eligibility requirements, depending on the granting body. Often, membership in an organization is required. It’s important to note that professional organizations offer many benefits that go beyond the opportunity to apply for a scholarship — a membership fee may be a sound investment. Below we’ve listed a small sampling of the variety of scholarships available for the right online MBA business administration candidate.