What is an MBA?

what is an MBA

The MBA is the most identifiable advanced business leadership degree available. MBAs originated over a century ago and have since developed into a program that is flexible, accessible, and even tailored to current students’ needs.

This type of degree helps students develop into:

  • leaders,
  • managers,
  • and entrepreneurs who lead complex businesses and organizations.

It covers the foundations of the major aspects of business organizations, and many allow students to tailor their studies with a specific focus or specialization. These degrees are offered in hundreds of business schools around the country and the world.

It is important for current business leaders and managers to understand the nature and language of a large number of business facets. These business professionals must have an understanding of:

However, business leaders do not need to be experts in each field. They must understand the basic foundation in each field and understand how they work together to drive business success. 


Some students might wonder about the benefit of advancing to an MBA degree if an undergraduate business degree has already been attained. There are many undergraduate business degrees that college students can pursue, including degrees in finance, accounting, or management, but the most common is the Bachelor’s in Business Administration or BBA. 

The Lowdown on the BBA

This degree has many great attributes. The curriculum in a BBA is generally made up of 100-120 credit units. The beginning of the curriculum encompasses a core curriculum including math, literature, history, government, social/behavior sciences, and physical sciences. Beyond that, students will attend courses in their major. In the instance of a BBA, these major courses cover a wide variety of business topics. 

Undergraduate programs are primarily focused on knowledge accumulation, and BBA programs are no exception. Undergraduate programs are an important step in education, but it is important to note that undergraduate degrees vary quite a bit from master’s programs because of their distinct nature.

The MBA Offers…

In contrast to BBA programs, MBA programs are less focused on regurgitating facts but more on leadership development. Will MBA students learn information about business that they might not have learned before?

Certainly! However the curriculum will still be focused more on how these business aspects are managed in regard to overarching organizational goals.

This means that MBA students spend time:

  • getting up to date on cutting-edge tools used in business,
  • communicating with peers on current business topics,
  • learning from experienced business practitioners,
  • working with teams,
  • making connections with partnering businesses,
  • and spending time putting thoughts and ideas into practice.

MBA Curriculum

Because running a business is so complex by nature, an MBA covers a wide variety of business concepts and develops its graduates into multifaceted leaders. An MBA is designed to give students the knowledge, vocabulary, tools, and experience to navigate management and leadership positions within any business or organization. 

Most MBA programs are structured very similarly. The beginning of an MBA covers prerequisite business courses that generally cover basic topics in undergraduate business programs to give a common foundation of knowledge.

Students with undergraduate business degrees can usually place out of these courses. However, a few MBA programs are designed for students with non-business undergraduate degrees that fold these courses into the degree. 

The core of an MBA consists of courses in:

  • statistics,
  • marketing,
  • management,
  • finance,
  • economics,
  • and accounting.

Some core coursework might also feature:

  • business law,
  • ethics,
  • e-business,
  • and global management.

General MBA degrees will cap off their program with current relevant topics for business students or give students a long list of electives to choose from. 

For MBA degrees with specialization tracks, students have a myriad of options. These specialization courses will cover topics, opportunities, changes, and challenges in a particular sector or business role. These can be highly advantageous courses. Common specializations include:

  • marketing,
  • nonprofit management,
  • entrepreneurship,
  • human resource management,
  • project management,
  • and IT management.

Other concentrations include:

  • conflict management,
  • real estate,
  • equine management,
  • taxation, and so much more.

While many professionals can travel up the ranks in a business without an MBA, an MBA can give professionals leverage against other job candidates without an MBA. It provides a specific requirement on a resume and application that many organizations prefer or require.

An MBA degree can also help graduates leverage their talents and skills to fast-track into management and leadership positions. For example, many job applications will give lower professional experience requirements to applicants with an MBA, e.g., applicants must have ten years of experience or five years of experience and an MBA. This not only offers a specific advantage in a job application, but it also allows MBA graduates to widen their pool of job prospects.

MBA Format Options

mba format options

Another great aspect of an MBA is that there are many different formats to choose from. The traditional on-campus, full-time MBA is an immersive experience. Many elite business schools have been offering this degree to tomorrow’s leaders for decades. 

Some students still need to work full-time but want to be on-campus. There are weekend and evening options available around the country. This allows students to continue to work and benefit from a face-to-face experience. 

For students who need a more flexible learning format in order to juggle current work and personal obligations, an online format would be more sustainable. Students can then choose between hybrid and fully online programs. 

One of the great things about the online options is that it not only allows students who require flexibility to attend, but it also allows students to use the online format to their advantage. Online students who graduate from this degree will have experience in virtual teams. That is an additional talent stack.