Before you make the commitment to earn an MBA, you must first understand exactly what an MBA is, as well as whether it’s the right degree program for you. An MBA, or a Master of Business Administration, provides a graduate education in foundational business practices, such as accounting, finance, marketing and management. It is often a beneficial degree choice for working professionals who need to obtain additional education to reach their career goals and climb the corporate ladder. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to learning, MBA programs are not only meant to deepen students’ understanding of business management, but also to further develop their critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.
A Brief History of the MBA
Although institutions of higher education around the world now offer MBA programs, this degree is American born and bred. The first graduate school of management, the Tuck School of Business, was founded in 1900 at Dartmouth College. According to the school’s website, it was the original graduate business school to award the Master of Commercial Science degree, which later became known as the Master of Business Administration. This idea of a graduate business education quickly caught on and in 1908, the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration enrolled 80 students in the first ever MBA program, according to its website. Throughout the years, MBA programs have grown in number and range of subject matter.
The MBA Today
There are various types of MBAs available through online business schools. The most common type of MBA is designed for students whose professional interests center on traditional business functions. These MBAs offer such concentrations as finance, accounting, marketing, human resources, economics and business administration.
For the student who wants to make his or her mark in a particular business specialization, there are MBAs with concentrations in areas such as international, sports management, entertainment and electronic. Those who would rather focus on developing certain qualities or learning about a particular approach within business can choose such concentrations as entrepreneurship, leadership, e-commerce or six sigma.
The goal of most business professionals is to obtain a management position, and to effectively manage an organization within a particular industry substantial knowledge about it is necessary. Management MBAs are designed to help professionals develop their industry expertise in such areas as health care, hospitality, IT and supply chain. There are also MBA concentrations for those students who want to become experts within a certain area of management such as operations, organizational, project, risk or global.
For those who would rather focus on a certain field, there are concentrations in criminal justice, education administration, health care and technology. MBA programs have much to offer to someone who wants to specialize within a certain area of health care with concentrations such as health information technology, health services, health care administration, health care management and nursing. Technology is another big area for MBA programs, with many schools offering concentrations in computer systems, information technology, network administration and security, and technology management.
And then there is the Executive MBA, which is designed to augment the working professional’s career. The EMBA is typically geared toward accomplished professionals with several years of work experience. The program consists of refresher courses on functional business areas as well as classes that focus on the development of leadership qualities, networking abilities and problem-solving skills.
What an MBA Can Do for You
There are many benefits of getting your MBA, with the most significant one being greater employment opportunities. In a Graduate Management Admission Council 2011 Alumni Survey, 93 percent of respondents said that they were employed and 55 percent reported significant satisfaction with career progress since finishing their management education.
Not only do MBA graduates have better employment options, they also earn more money than people who haven’t been awarded the degree. Of the alumni who graduated in 2010, 7 out of 10 reported that their starting salaries were either as much or more than they expected, with a median starting salary of $78,820. Out of all the alumni who responded to the survey, the median starting salary was $94,542.
If you are still asking yourself whether you should go back to school to earn your MBA, consider the following: Although a bachelor’s degree and work experience are invaluable commodities on any resume, a graduate-level education can guarantee employers that you have the knowledge, abilities and motivation that will be demanded of you in a higher-level position. An MBA gives you credibility and distinction that cannot be earned in the workplace alone. Obtaining an MBA will prepare you to work in a wide range of industries, automatically increasing the number of positions for which you are qualified. MBAs are recognized in most countries as respected business credentials, opening up a world of career opportunities for such degree holders.