What is a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?
An MBA, also known as a Master of Business Administration, is a post-secondary degree that provides in-depth knowledge and training from the perspective of business management. The graduate degree can involve a general focus or specialize in areas, such as accounting, finance, marketing, and more.
An In-depth Perspective of the MBA
In order to apply for an MBA, it is students are required to complete an undergraduate degree first. Therefore, a Master of Business Administration is considered to be an advanced education that provides greater opportunities than individuals who hold an undergraduate degree. Generally, the length of time required to complete an MBA program is approximately two years.
Although an MBA program’s curriculum includes core courses such as accounting, finance, and marketing, the subjects are meant to complement its primary goal of teaching students business management – such as business strategy, leadership, and human resources – to understand the human capital aspect of any business across various sizes.
Career Options for MBAs
Many different career options require an MBA. Particularly in finance, they include but are not exclusive to:
- Hedge funds
- Private equity firms
- Consulting firms
- Investment banks
Often, investment banks may fund their investment bankers’ MBA, hoping for them to rejoin the company after completion and take on higher leadership roles in the company.
MBA Admissions Criteria
To be eligible for the MBA program, recruiters consider the following general criteria:
- Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) (Average: 720-730 out of 800)
- Academics (3.5/4.0 GPA and up)
- Extra-curricular activities
Some universities require a certain threshold or recommended GPA cut-off for their applicants to be considered competitive. However, it is important to recognize that each candidate’s profile will be reviewed as a whole. Thus, if students are not competitive in one of the three criteria above, it should not be a discouraging factor to not apply.
Understanding Specialized and Executive MBA Programs
Many MBA programs allow students to specialize in disciplines across various industries. Beyond focusing on a core discipline, many students can choose to specialize in diversified areas such as entrepreneurship, entertainment business, information technology, education, and more. Many times, specialized MBA programs are available for students who are only able to attend school part-time.
As for Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, they are designed and catered toward working professionals who are preparing to enter higher leadership positions within a company. That said, the courses are scheduled during times when they are not at work, such as nights and weekends. Executive MBA programs are generally only for individuals with substantial work experience; thus, they tend to focus less on academics and more on leadership-based skills.
In terms of admission for EMBAs, as they are designed for older adults with several years working within management or leadership roles, recruiters tend to weigh their academic record less and allocate heavier weight on their work experience and professional network.
Full-Time and Part-Time MBA Trade-offs
There are two ways to get an MBA – a full-time or a part-time program. Younger students who recently completed their undergraduate program may prefer to choose a full-time MBA, as it will be difficult to work throughout the duration of the program. The part-time MBA programs, also known as the Executive MBA (EMBA), can be fairly pricier.
Determining When and If to Get an MBA
The MBA is most useful when the individual intends to work in management or become a founder of their own company. Otherwise, considering the time, expense, and effort allocated to the program, an MBA may not be worthwhile.
In addition, it is important to recognize that reputation is indeed a critical factor for employers. As many schools and educational institutions are offering MBAs, they may not be as renowned and prestigious as a top 10 school in the country.
Thus, from a recruiter’s standpoint, they would likely choose the candidate who received the same MBA but from a more respectable program. Thus, second or third-tier MBA programs can ultimately be disadvantageous in time and money.
Alternatives to an MBA to Enter Finance
Although it is difficult to assess whether one would provide equal opportunities over the other, beyond the MBA, the CFA® program also offers a self-study comprehensive curriculum that is considered to be equivalent to graduate education at a significantly lower cost, while bearing similar pros as the MBA.
Other programs, such as the FRM® or CFP®, are also fairly renowned within their own fields of finance.
CFI is the official provider of the global Commercial Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful: