Your Complete Guide to

Master of Business Administration

Online Masters Degree
on February 13, 2024

Why We Love It

  • High Salary Potential
  • Large Demand
  • Lots of Career Options

* The Why We Love It section is solely based on the opinion of's Editorial Team. Any salary & growth research or estimates should be referenced further at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for your specific desired career.

What is an MBA?

Business administration involves many moving parts, all of which are important to the success or failure of a company.  MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, the gold standard for executives in the US.

This is a professional degree for students with a mastery of the knowledge and competence required for scientific management (also known as Taylorism), which is the study of workflows in order to improve efficiency and productivity.  Many giants in their industries–household names like Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, and Tim Cook–hold an MBA or MBA-related degree.

An MBA degree could prepare you for a career in management, marketing, accounting, banking, or another field crucial to helping a business achieve success. It could lead to an important career in running a successful business, and there will always be potential for growth in the field, it can often get your foot in the door for higher-paying upper-management roles.

Also, enrolling in an MBA program can give you ample opportunities to connect with other students, graduates, and professionals in the industry. This networking can help establish valuable contacts that can increase your chances of finding a job in your desired field.

An MBA program will typically cover a broad range of business administration-related topics, such as:

  • Managerial Economics: This applies economic concepts to solve practical problems and make business decisions.
  • Business Strategy: Jumping into business without proper planning is suicide.  Strategy is important for achieving long-term goals under uncertain conditions.
  • Human Resources: A strategic approach to effective management of people could help your business gain a competitive advantage.
  • Applied Statistics: This covers the science of collecting data, identifying patterns or trends, and applying this to your business in a useful way.
  • Business Ethics and Business Law: It is important to prepare for the moral and ethical problems that could arise in a business environment, and to understand the laws that govern people and organizations.
  • Entrepreneurship: This is especially important if you want to start your own business.  This could teach you how to design, launch, and manage that business successfully.

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What Can You Do With a Master of Business Administration?

Since an MBA is traditionally one of the most marketable master’s degrees, the sky’s the limit.

A business analyst helps a company to integrate new software which will increase their efficiency and productivity.  An investment banker helps a client secure a financial future for their spouse and children.  A marketing associate rolls out a new ad campaign that connects with a new demographic of customers. An entrepreneur finds a new company destined to change the world.

These are only a few examples. The possibilities are endless. You get to choose what you’ll do, and you don’t have to know what that is right now.  An MBA could give you the tools you need to do a wide variety of jobs, so you’re not committing to a career before you even finish your degree.

Best Programs for Master of Business Administration

Here’s the best part: We’re going to give you the secrets to finding the best programs for adults, programs that could help you get your MBA degree faster and with as few headaches as possible.

We know planning for college can be confusing, and is dedicated to helping you find the right path for you so that you can complete your degree and start your new career as soon as possible.

Why We Love an MBA

  1. Competitive salary: MBA holders are well-paid and can sometimes command a better salary based on their degree alone. According to a study by GMAC, MBA grads receive at least 70% more of what a person with a bachelor’s degree would get.
  2. Excellent growth potential:  The versatility of an MBA degree makes it a valuable asset across many different industries. This means that professionals can pursue a career that aligns with their interests, providing them with ample opportunities for professional growth and development.
  3. High demand: An MBA is traditionally one of the most marketable degrees, and it may be required for certain upper-management positions. In today’s unstable economic situation and rising inflation, having an MBA degree can be really helpful in securing high-level executive positions, and teaching important skills such as strategic planning, financial analysis, leadership, and innovation. These can set you apart in a highly competitive job market and help you find a rewarding and well-paying career in your desired field.

Online vs. Traditional Campus MBA Programs

Most people who think about going back to school and getting their MBA never even get started.  Not only are there various entrance hurdles like exams and application fees, but it’s also tough to make school work around your schedule, especially if you’re surrounded by family and work commitments. Already managing both is so challenging and with that, adding study commitments is definitely impossible

Fortunately, times have changed.

With adult-friendly schools, there is really no reason not to go back to school anymore.

What makes a school adult-friendly?  Here are a few key attributes:

  • Adult-friendly schools are totally online.  Online learning is best for busy adults, who have to balance their ongoing education with work, kids, and everything else that comes with being a grownup.  Enrolling in an online MBA program offers the advantage of managing your education around your personal and professional commitments. The convenience of virtual classrooms and flexible scheduling makes an online MBA an excellent option for professionals who want to enhance their skills and advance in their careers, with as limited constraints as possible.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer accelerated programs, with ongoing enrollment. What’s better than getting your MBA in two years?  Getting it in fourteen months. Several universities now have flexible admission policies for MBA programs. This means that students can enroll in these programs at any time of the year, instead of only during traditional semester dates. This rolling admission process allows students to start their studies whenever it suits them.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer more support than traditional schools.  MBA programs can offer valuable career services to help you succeed. They can assist you in finding job opportunities, networking with professionals, and connecting with industry experts. With these services, you can overcome challenges and achieve your career goals. These can be extremely useful in securing a job, even more so in unstable economies and joblessness.

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Admissions Requirements for Master of Business Administration

So what do you need to go to grad school?  You need to take the GRE or another entrance exam, right?

You might be surprised to learn that many adult-friendly schools do not require GRE or entrance exams.  Online MBA programs generally require only a bachelor’s degree to get started, and there are no application fees to worry about.  You start when you’re ready.

Master of Business Administration Curriculum

As mentioned above, a Master of Business Administration degree will expose you to key aspects of management science such as operations management, accounting, economics, marketing finance, human resources, statistics, business ethics, business law, and entrepreneurship.  These areas of knowledge are all essential to leading a successful company, whether it’s one you join or start yourself.

What Courses Will I Take in My MBA Program?

Because running a company is a challenging endeavor that requires a broad spectrum of knowledge and business acumen, the core curriculum of an MBA program will include a healthy mix of courses designed to build and develop your knowledge and skills in these crucial areas.

Examples include:

  • Microeconomics: It is important to understand basic microeconomic theory, including supply and demand, cost, production, consumer behavior, and market equilibrium.
  • Introduction to Marketing: This would typically cover concepts such as branding, distribution, promotion, pricing, and targeting.
  • Foundations of Leadership: Any successful manager must understand the fundamentals of teamwork and how to lead a team effectively.
  • Business Communication: This is designed to strengthen your public speaking skills, including persuasion and confidence, as well as your ability to develop arguments in written form.
  • Introduction to Accounting: All business managers need to have a grasp of fundamental accounting concepts such as billing, cash flow, profitability, assets, and liabilities.

Specializations and Concentrations

While many people will complete a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with no specialization or concentration, there may be some available for you to focus your studies as they apply to specific career areas.  These could include:

  • Accounting: Accounting is the language of business.  It involves measuring, processing, and communicating financial information about your business.
  • Marketing: One of the primary aspects of managing a business, marketing is essentially studying the needs of people, and using that information in a way that is profitable to your business.
  • Finance: The acquisition, spending, and investment of capital is a significant part of running any business.
  • Business Analytics: This focuses on using data and statistical methods, such as regression analysis, to gain new understanding of business performance and drive planning for the future.
  • Cybersecurity: This could help you specialize in protecting computers and networks from damage, data theft, and disruption of the services they provide.
  • Economic Development: This refers to improving and developing the economic well-being of a community, such as a city or country.
  • Global Communications: Particularly useful in international business, this facilitates teamwork between employees from different cultures.
  • Healthcare Administration: Managing a hospital or other healthcare organization could require a working knowledge of health in addition to your business skills.

You could also find that a different, MBA-related degree is a better fit for your career of choice.  Other master’s degrees include:

  • Master of Science (MS) in Management: This is similar to an MBA, but it is often more theory-oriented (as opposed to an MBA, which is usually more practice-oriented).  It could be more suitable for someone with little or no job experience.
  • Master of Accountancy: This is designed to prepare you for public accounting and is required by most states before you take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam).
  • Master of Economics: This could provide you with a mastery of economic theory, applied economics, and/or econometrics.
  • Master of Finance: Designed to prepare you for a career in finance, this would likely focus on financial management and investment management.
  • Master of Science (MS) in Marketing: This degree could be a good fit if you plan to work in a marketing position, especially in middle management or higher.

Master of Business Administration Program Length

Most Master of Business Administration degrees require between 40 and 60 credits to graduate.  Normally, an MBA program takes about two years to complete.  An accelerated plan, however, could take 12 to 16 months.

Schools that cater to adult students are known for their capacity to adapt to the requirements of their students who frequently juggle between work commitments, familial responsibilities, and other time constraints, which make it hard to comply with a strict academic timetable. The best adult-friendly schools make the process as convenient as possible, and they could get you into the workforce as fast as possible because they know that’s what adults want.

Choosing the Right University or College MBA Program

Choosing the right school for you can be exciting, but it can also be a hassle.  Tuition costs, application fees, accreditation, enrollment windows, and entrance exams are just some of the variables to consider.

That’s why we created the Smartplan.  We want to help people go back to school, to make college more accessible and affordable for everyone.  With our Smartplan, we make it easy for you to start on your path towards your Master of Business Administration.

Here are just some of the benefits of your Smartplan:

  • No application fees
  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • No entrance exams or testing
  • Faculty and professors who understand adults
  • Discounts and scholarships available
  • Open enrollment dates

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Best Jobs for Those With a Master of Business Administration

What can you do with an MBA?  What kind of salary can you expect?

Here are some common careers for MBA holders, with salary data estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Investment Banker/Financial Analyst: This is someone who provides guidance to individuals and/or businesses regarding investment decisions.  You could make anywhere from $57,900 to $166,560 per year.
  • Training and Development Manager:  Needed in nearly every industry, this is someone who plans and coordinates programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s staff.  You could make anywhere from $64,370 to $207,420 per year.
  • Market research analyst:  This involves studying market conditions, examining potential sales, and interpreting this data in a useful way.  You could make anywhere from $37,570 to $128,320 per year.
  • Management Consultant:  You could specialize in advising managers on improving efficiency and increasing their organization’s profits by reducing costs and increasing revenues.  You could make anywhere from $50,190 to $163,760 per year.
  • Top Executive:  This includes CEOs, general managers, operations managers, founders, and other positions responsible for directing the work activities of a company or organization.  You could make anywhere from $60,300 to well over $208,000 per year.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite careers, but this degree does provide you with broad skills to work in a variety of positions, as MBA holders are usually in high demand across many industries.

Best of all, you could work for a company to gain experience and then go into business for yourself!  These are just some of the endless possibilities you can choose from.

Cost and Tuition

Cost and tuition vary from school to school, and you’ll want to speak with each of your prospective schools directly. Luckily, online universities usually charge less money for tuition than traditional schools, which can be particularly helpful during times of economic uncertainty and high joblessness.

Schools that cater to adult students know that affordability is essential and aim to provide financial aid to students who are eligible. These help decrease the cost of tuition and other expenses. You’ll definitely want to speak to a few schools, and can help you with that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Do I need to know what job I want before I start an MBA program?

A: No!  An MBA program could prepare you for a wide variety of careers.  You certainly don’t need to know what job you want today.

Q: Will I make more money with an MBA?

A: That depends on a variety of factors.  But as you can see above in the “Best Jobs for Those With a Master of Business Administration” section, your MBA could mean excellent earning potential.

Q: How long will I be in school?

A: That could depend on you, your current job, and any other obligations you might have.  An MBA program could take anywhere from one to four years, but our Smartplan is designed to help you find the right degree for you, so you can finish as quickly as possible!

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Master of Business Administration degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

Create Your Free SmartPlan

There are many ways to make college affordable and accessible.

That’s why we created a helpful tool called SmartPlan.

It’s free, and helps you find potential ways to save and tons of information about each school you’re considering

Think of it as your “college blueprint”, to help you instantly craft a path to your degree:

  • Which Colleges Match Your Needs
  • Ways You Could Save Time & Money
  • Free Courses You Could Take for Credit
  • Valuable Data and Insights on Each College
  • Detailed Steps You Should Take!

See what’s possible for you and generate a free plan within just a few minutes

Create My SmartPlan

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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