What Is a Mini MBA?
Many working professionals want the benefits of a master of business administration (MBA) but cannot commit to a 1-2 year program. As an MBA alternative, some colleges and universities offer mini MBAs. A mini MBA condenses the most important courses and topics of an MBA into a short, 35-40 hour program.
First introduced in 1949 at McGill University, the mini MBA became a popular program thanks to its short time frame, low cost, and relevant subject matter. Various accredited institutions now offer the accelerated MBA program to students interested in learning new business skills.
This page explores what future learners can expect when they enroll in a mini MBA program, including course format, program length, and why business professionals pursue these programs. Those interested in a mini MBA also discover how much a mini MBA costs and how a mini MBA could help them achieve their short- and long-term career goals.
How Much Do Mini MBAs Cost?
Because mini MBA formats and structure vary based on the institution, the cost of a mini MBA program usually ranges $1,000-$5,000. Some schools allow mini MBA students to roll the credits they earn into a normal MBA program, should they choose to pursue the full degree. Program costs also vary depending on the materials covered, the faculty teaching the modules, and the prestige of the institution. Regardless of price, however, mini MBAs represent a significantly lower cost than traditional MBAs.
Fortunately, some students avoid paying for the mini MBA entirely. Learners can use scholarships to cover some, or all, of the program costs. Alternatively, students can secure other forms of financial aid. Learn more about paying for a mini MBA below.
Who Gets Mini MBAs, and Why?
Business professionals pursue a mini MBA for various reasons. Many use a mini MBA to explore the experience of pursuing a traditional MBA without committing the money and time up front. Others use the mini MBA to gain new business skills while completing college credit. Some stop pursuing higher education after securing a mini MBA certificate.
Those that might benefit from a mini MBA include:
- Professionals considering enrolling in a full-time MBA program who want some exposure to the material first.
- Managers with no graduate or business school experience looking to enhance their skills.
- Individuals who want to learn valuable skills to improve their chances of receiving a promotion, pay raise, or new position.
- Busy workers who cannot commit to a multi-year program.
- Workers currently unwilling or unable to pay the tuition costs of a full-time MBA program.
- Current MBA holders who want a refresher course or the chance to dive deeper into a specific subject.
- Future MBA students who want to begin by completing some college credits while earning a mini MBA certificate.
- Those with a genuine interest in MBA topics.
Is a Mini MBA a Good MBA Alternative?
A mini MBA offers a short, focused education for those interested in business. Due to the abbreviated nature of a mini MBA, those looking to complete an MBA should not view a mini MBA as a suitable alternative. However, some professionals may achieve their current goals by completing a mini MBA.
Before committing to a mini MBA or an alternate MBA option, consider your short- and long-term career goals. For some, another MBA option may offer more value.
- Mini MBA Versus MBA
A mini MBA requires as little as 35 hours of study, where an MBA takes a full-time student 1-2 years to complete. A traditional or online MBA also costs more than a mini MBA; however, learners graduate with a master's degree instead of a certificate. Some positions require at least an MBA, so employers might not offer positions to applicants with a mini MBA.
- Mini MBA Versus Accelerated MBA
- Unlike a traditional MBA, an accelerated MBA takes as little as one year to complete. However, a mini MBA still takes far less time to complete. Accelerated MBAs sometimes cost less than a traditional MBA but more than a mini MBA. Because an accelerated MBA requires intensive study, those willing to take time off work to focus on their education should consider an accelerated MBA.
- Mini MBA Versus Other Certificates
- Mini MBA programs typically end with the student receiving a certificate. While useful, some professionals might benefit more from a different certificate program. Prospective learners should also weigh the cost and benefit of different certificate programs. A mini MBA might cost less than another program, but some certificates could make professionals eligible for a promotion or pay raise. Regardless, both options require a time commitment of just several weeks.
- Mini MBA Versus MOOCs
- Created at the turn of the century, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) allow students to study remotely without committing to an entire program. MOOCs and some mini MBA programs embrace online study, satisfy college credits, and take far less time to complete than a full-time program. While MOOCs teach valuable skills, many employers prefer to hire candidates with degrees and/or certificates. Some MOOCs come free of charge, so those interested in a mini MBA should consider enrolling in a MOOC to test the waters of completing online coursework.
What Are the Benefits of Mini MBAs?
Mini MBAs offer plenty of benefits to learners. Thanks to the low cost and program length of a mini MBA, individuals learn new skills with a relatively low commitment. However, mini MBAs do not cover nearly as many topics as a traditional MBA.
Mini MBA Pros and Cons
Mini MBAs come with a different cost, length, and format as many traditional MBAs. Most mini MBAs function as one course that introduces a variety of MBA topics. Plenty of professionals or individuals interested in businesses find this information useful. Of course, students also choose other options, including a full-time MBA, accelerated MBA, or a MOOC. Pros and cons of a mini MBA include the following:
- Pros of Mini MBAs
- Complete a mini MBA program in 35-40 hours.
- Earn a certificate at the end of the program.
- Study entirely online and complete the program in as little as one week.
- Earn your certification from an accredited university.
- Increase your earning potential with the certificate.
- Improve application and resume quality with a mini MBA.
- Get a look at how an MBA program might look at a relatively low time and cost.
- Specialize your education through the mini MBA course.
- Complete college credits while earning your mini MBA certificate.
- Cons of Mini MBAs
- Does not cover nearly as many materials as an MBA.
- May not open up a vast number of new management and leadership positions.
- Only focuses on a small part of business administration.
- Other options might provide more utility to students.
- Not all employers recognize the credentials a mini MBA offers.
What Is There to Show for Getting a Mini MBA?
After completing a mini MBA, most programs award students with a certificate of completion and an online badge to be used on networking sites. While not as impressive as a traditional MBA, including a mini MBA on your resume shows at least some education beyond the undergraduate level. Some schools also let you transfer into a full-time MBA program and carry over credits earned during the mini MBA.
Mini MBAs also introduce you to other learners, increasing the size of your professional network.
What Are Employer Perceptions of Mini MBAs?
Every employer views candidates, backgrounds, and education differently, so the impact of completing a mini MBA varies by business. Organizations that understand mini MBAs know that these short programs do not come close to the quality and prestige of a traditional MBA. However, these same businesses also understand the quality of mini MBAs and how they help candidates stand out.
Where an applicant completes a mini MBA also influences how employers view the certificate. Much like traditional degrees, employers prefer to see mini MBAs complete at accredited institutions. Earning a mini MBA at a prestigious institution could make a potential new hire's job application stand out even more.
Note that most mini MBA programs embrace the online format, and some employers treat online education differently. Check out this useful resource to learn more about employer opinions on online education.
Is a Mini MBA Worth It?
Anyone interested in whether a mini MBA is worth it must understand that value depends heavily on the circumstance. Current professionals, individuals seeking a new job, and those planning on returning to school all approach a mini MBA differently.
How a Mini MBA Benefits Your Current Position
- Supplemental Learning: Professionals must continually adapt to the changing field of business, and a mini MBA introduces relevant topics in an easily digestible format. Mini MBAs also serve as excellent refresher courses for MBA holders.
- Continuing Education: Whether professionals require continuing education credits for a certification or they want to learn new skills, a mini MBA offers education at a relatively low cost.
- Management Training: MBAs prepare professionals to enter leadership and management positions. Anyone preparing for a management position could use a mini MBA to prepare.
- Climbing the Career Ladder: When hunting for a promotion, professionals use different tactics to help them stand out. Completing a mini MBA looks great on resumes and LinkedIn while teaching important business skills. It also shows that the individual takes initiative, a trait that employers might require for the new position.
- Personal Learning Goals: Some people choose to enroll in a mini MBA because of a genuine interest in the subject matter.
How a Mini MBA Benefits Your Job Hunt
- Learn New Skills: While they cover much less material than a traditional MBA, mini MBAs offer a compressed version of an MBA. Learners take away plenty of actionable information, cover new skills, and learn new ways to approach business.
- Fill Educational or Resume Gaps: Those with large gaps on their resume can avoid awkward questioning during an interview by completing a mini MBA. Completing any amount of education shows your drive to learn new skills.
- Demonstrate Initiative: Employers often want candidates that show initiative. Taking the time to complete a mini MBA demonstrates your initiative to learn new skills.
- Gain a Certificate: Certificates may not match the quality of degrees, but earning a certificate makes candidates stand out above those with only an undergraduate degree.
- Network: Though most mini MBAs embrace the online format, students can still connect with each other while completing the program. These connections could help with the future job hunt.
How a Mini MBA Benefits Your Education
- Gain MBA Insight: Instead of committing to a multi-year traditional MBA program, today's students sometimes enroll in a mini MBA first. Learners use the mini MBA as a test run for a full-time MBA. If they enjoy the materials and realize the multi-year time commitment is worth the degree, then they often go directly into a traditional MBA.
- Supplement Your Education: Professionals with an undergraduate or graduate degree in a non-business field use mini MBAs to quickly gain business skills. Mini MBAs prove particularly useful for professionals that find themselves in management or leadership positions.
- Earn College Credits: Many colleges and universities allow students to convert their mini MBA into college credits. Not only does this provide the student with a test run for a traditional MBA, but it reduces the time and cost of the full-time program.
- Earn Continuing Education Credits: Various certifications require continuing education credits, and some mini MBAs also count toward continuing education.
What Will Your Mini MBA Program Look Like?
Like other programs offered by colleges and universities, mini MBAs require learners to gain admission, complete the program of study in a specific format, finish the mini MBA in a set amount of time, and study required topics. The following sections cover what a mini MBA program could look like for different students.
Mini MBA Admissions
Mini MBA programs usually feature a straightforward admissions process. Most mini MBA programs do not set strict admissions requirements; however, not every applicant gets accepted into the program. Programs often target professionals with 1-5 years of work experience, and some schools might only accept applicants that meet this requirement. Aside from work experience, mini MBAs often require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree.
Students apply for a mini MBA online by filling out an application form. Aside from general information, applications ask individuals about their previous education and work history. Applications may require students to submit transcripts and a resume.
Because many mini MBAs are online and can take as little as one week to complete, most schools use rolling admissions, meaning learners may apply at any time. However, start dates occur only a handful of times each year, so applicants must wait for the next start date to begin learning.
Mini MBA Format and Length
Every institution creates its own mini MBA format, length, and style, so program expectations vary by school. For the most part, mini MBA programs require 40 hours or fewer and take no more than 14 weeks to complete.
Class format varies between online, in-person, or both, and this format impacts the length and style of the mini MBA. Most online options allow learners to study at their own pace, and students often finish the program in roughly three months while completing three hours of coursework each week. Those interested in an accelerated option usually complete the program in person during specific hours, typically from 9-5 on weekdays for an entire week. These synchronous courses require students to attend class at the same time. Alternatively, an online option allows students to study asynchronously, meaning they can access and complete courses whenever they choose.
The time of year for programs also varies. Online formats offer the most flexibility, typically allowing students to begin on any weekday. However, some schools set specific start dates for the online format. Accelerated in-person mini MBAs may only take one week to complete, but most schools only extend this option several times during the year. So, depending on the time of the year and how quickly students complete the self-paced online options, waiting for the accelerated in-person program could take more time than completing the online mini MBA.
Do Specialized Mini MBAs Exist?
Mini MBAs might only offer a glance into a full-time MBA program, but some schools allow learners to select a specialization or concentration for their mini MBA. Specializations usually relate to specific industries or backgrounds. For example, some schools offer specializations in pharmaceuticals, customer management, or management for veterans. However, students should only select a specialization if it relates to their current or desired field.
If a school does not offer a mini MBA concentration, expect the program to cover broad business topics required in the general education of a traditional MBA. A non-specialized mini MBA fits most business roles.
While a mini MBA specialization helps individuals learn skills critical to their field, those looking for a highly specialized education should consider a traditional MBA. Traditional MBAs offer many more specializations than mini MBAs, and some specializations help learners secure promotions or new positions. Traditional MBA specializations also dive much deeper into the subject matter than mini MBAs. Students who complete a specialized mini MBA might also consider completing a full-time MBA with the same concentration.
Mini MBA Courses
Mini MBA courses usually break subjects down into modules or components. This format allows instructors to teach new subjects during each class while following the same sequential ordering of a full-time MBA. Some modules and topics you might encounter during a mini MBA include:
- Marketing/Digital Marketing
- Marketing and digital marketing classes examine strategies used by marketers to promote products, services, or businesses. Students learn to plan marketing campaigns, analyze data as it comes in, and adjust marketing strategies to meet customer needs. Many of today's business professionals work closely with marketing on a daily basis.
- Supply Chain Management
- An important course for anyone interested in enterprise solutions, supply chain management covers the process of sourcing, shipping, and delivering all types of goods through the global marketplace. This module usually focuses on the integration of supply chain management and an analysis of the supply chain's success.
- Many mini MBA students enroll in their program to learn new leadership skills. Leadership means more than just directing employees to perform -- leaders must analyze the constantly changing field of business, adjust strategies, and remain competitive. Most leadership modules combine the theory and practice of leadership.
- The modern business world combines multiple forms of communication, including face-to-face, email, telephone, video, and chat. Effective business leaders must learn to assess and embrace each style of communication to successfully interact with individuals at every organizational level. This module also teaches techniques to enhance communication skills.
- Business Law
- A critical course for all management-level workers, business law covers the complex legal implications of various actions. Students cover contracts, government regulations, competition laws, and laws protecting consumers. By the end of the module, learners can assess potential legal risks and avoid these situations.
Selecting Your Mini MBA Program
Every student's experience with a mini MBA depends on the program they select. Spend time researching different institutions and assessing their approach to the mini MBA. Look at the subject matter taught in the program and determine whether this aligns with your professional needs. Early factors to consider include the prestige of the school, the time commitment of the program, the subject matter taught, program outcomes, and any specializations offered.
After selecting several schools that fit your needs, compare the cost, format, and instructors of the course. While choosing the most affordable option might seem tempting, a more expensive mini MBA could provide flexible, online, asynchronous modules taught by well-respected faculty.
Finally, consider your long-term goals. If you plan on completing a traditional MBA in the future, consider a program that awards college credit. If the specific courses do not teach skills required in your field, perhaps a different program works better for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a mini MBA degree?
- A mini MBA degree introduces some of the topics covered in a traditional MBA program. However, a mini MBA takes as little as 40 hours to complete and leads to a certificate instead of a degree.
- What can I do instead of an MBA?
- Instead of an MBA, professionals can enroll in a mini MBA, a MOOC, or a different certificate-granting program. However, these options do not replace the full breadth of an MBA.
- How can I get an MBA certificate?
- All mini MBA programs offered by accredited institutions lead to an MBA certificate. Graduates can then enroll in a traditional MBA program and transfer in college credits earned during the mini MBA.
- Are mini MBAs worth it?
- Not all professionals benefit from a mini MBA, but those looking to learn new skills or prepare for an MBA at a low cost will find mini MBAs are worth the investment.
- Are mini MBAs respected?
- Yes, employers respect mini MBAs. However, since these short programs take far less time to complete than a master's degree, employers do not consider mini MBAs substitutes for traditional MBAs.