Going through a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program can be an important step in achieving your business career goals. This degree can open more doors for you in the business world and improve your chance of obtaining a leadership position. You’ll also have the necessary training and education to run your own business, if you choose to pursue an entrepreneurial career path.
When you enter an MBA program, knowing what to expect in terms of classes and coursework can help you feel more prepared.
While your MBA workload might seem challenging, keep in mind that it will also teach you essential skills. The following information on MBA coursework can give you an idea of the kinds of topics you’ll be learning about and the types of work you’ll be expected to do.
What Is the Coursework for an MBA Like?
The coursework for an MBA degree depends in part on the type of program you take. While the workload might be the same for a full-time program and a part-time program, the amount of time you have to complete your schoolwork differs. You’ll be able to earn your degree faster with a full-time program, but you’ll be handling more coursework within a shorter time frame. With a part-time program, your coursework will be spread out over a longer period of time. You might take three courses a semester in a full-time program, while a part-time program might have you take only one or two courses each semester. Accelerated MBA programs sometimes have students take four courses each semester or two courses per term.
MBA coursework might also differ depending on whether you’re in an online, in-person, or hybrid degree program. An online MBA program is fully online and does not typically have scheduled times that you need to be in class. An in-person or on-campus degree program takes place in the classroom, which means you’ll have scheduled class times. A hybrid MBA program includes a mix of in-person and online classes. You might have scheduled class times with a hybrid program, but these often include evening hours to accommodate those who work full-time.
Depending on the school you go to, the coursework for these different types of MBA programs might be the same, or there might be some differences in the amount or type of coursework included.
MBA Course Expectations
When you’re in an MBA program, your coursework will cover certain business concepts and skills. In order to help you understand these concepts and develop business skills, you’ll have assignments and projects to work on. You’ll also be expected to put considerable effort into your classes. Course expectations can differ based on factors such as the type of MBA program you take and whether you choose a concentration. However, a few basic expectations are common in MBA programs overall.
Active Class Participation
Active class participation is expected from MBA students, no matter what type of program you’re in. You might have to give presentations, answer questions from your instructor, and participate in other ways when you take in-person classes. For online programs, you might be expected to post in discussion boards or use an online chat to participate in class.
Case studies are a key part of MBA programs since they are a valuable learning tool. These studies give you examples of different business situations or scenarios you might face. As a student, you’ll be expected to analyze these case studies to find potential issues and come up with effective solutions. Depending on your coursework, you might work on a case study for a project or discuss these studies during classes.
Group projects offer a good way to work on developing leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. You might do smaller group projects in one or two classes or have larger group projects that involve giving a presentation or writing a paper. MBA project topics can vary, but examples include sustainable business models, investment options, social media management, corporate level ethics, and consumer decision analysis.
Networking during your MBA program is another expectation to keep in mind. You might have opportunities to network while doing an internship or attending conferences. Networking with your instructors, fellow students, and alumni can also be helpful. The connections you form through networking can provide important business opportunities after you graduate.
Is MBA Coursework Hard?
MBA coursework can be difficult at times, but just how much depends on your individual strengths and weaknesses. You might find group projects, complex assignments, or certain kinds of material harder, for example. The key to doing well in your MBA program is finding a balance between your coursework and your lifestyle, especially if you have other responsibilities, such as full-time work or family. Developing good study habits and using your time management skills can help you accomplish this.
Do MBA Programs Have a Lot of Homework?
MBA programs often have a significant amount of reading assignments and other homework requirements. You might have assigned reading in the textbook, or you might be spending more time reading through case studies. Doing prep work before classes is important since you’ll need preparation to intelligently participate in class. You can also expect to have considerable take-home assignments throughout your MBA program.
What Will You Learn in an MBA Program?
When you’re in an MBA program, you’ll learn a wide range of skills to help you succeed as a business professional. You’ll also take classes that teach you core concepts in different areas of business, such as finance and marketing. If you decide to specialize, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge in a certain area, such as business analytics or healthcare administration.
MBA Course Topics
MBA programs include core courses and electives and often concentration courses. When you’ve completed some of your core courses, you can choose electives or concentration courses that allow you to focus on topics that match your career goals. The number of core courses and electives or concentration courses you’ll need to take will depend on the school you go to. The following are common MBA course topics.
Data analytics courses teach you how to process data for business purposes, such as identifying problems and creating solutions. When you take these classes, you’ll typically study data collection, applied analytics, database management tools, statistical analysis, and quantitative research methods. These courses help you learn how to gather data, analyze it, and interpret your findings in a way that executives and other business professionals will understand.
Human Resource Management
Human resource management classes teach you the skills and concepts you’ll need to understand how to effectively manage employees in order to boost productivity and improve employee morale. During these classes, you’ll learn the basics of human resource management, such as recruitment, compensation and benefits, HR data, performance management, and HR information systems.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management classes can help you understand the difficulties that businesses deal with in a global economy. These courses cover supply chain topics, such as logistics, planning, operations, and sourcing. You’ll learn about the challenges and complexities businesses face to move products to different markets and ensure that enough products are available.
Strategic leadership courses are an important part of learning to be a leader in the business world. Through these classes, you’ll learn how to visualize ideas or goals in a business setting and make a plan for accomplishing them. Studying strategic leadership in an MBA program helps you develop skills, such as communication, measuring objectives and key results, strategic thinking, management, integrity, and planning.
Business Accountability and Ethics
Business accountability and ethics courses are valuable classes that teach you the importance of conducting business in an ethical way and maintaining an ethical work culture. You’ll study ethical business principles such as respect, citizenship, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility. You’ll also learn to assess and handle ethical challenges or dilemmas that businesses face.
Economic Statistics and Operations
Economic statistics and operations classes help you learn how to gather economic data, analyze statistics, and share your results or findings. These classes might cover topics such as foundations of statistics, decision models for economics, data science, data models, and data analysis methods. With these skills, you’ll be able to analyze economic or business data to predict business practices, improve organizational efficiency, and analyze past business performance.
Leadership, Teamwork, Management, and Organizational Behavior
Classes in leadership, teamwork, management, and organizational behavior are highly important for succeeding in business. These classes focus on teaching MBA students how to lead or manage companies, teams, and departments while also improving teamwork skills. Studying organizational behavior can help you become an effective leader by making decisions and creating policies that benefit your company.
Finance courses teach you concepts and skills related to economics, banking, and other financial aspects of the business world. When you take finance courses, you might study asset markets, corporate finance, financial markets, financial planning, economics, risk management, venture capital, and private equity. These classes are helpful if you want to pursue a career in finance, such as financial trader, investment banker, commercial banker, financial manager, or financial consultant.
Marketing classes in an MBA program help you understand how to advertise or promote products and services or a brand. Through these classes, you’ll learn about traditional marketing methods, as well as digital or online methods. Marketing courses might include consumer behavior, digital marketing and social media, visual marketing, strategic brand management, and marketing strategy.
While accounting deals with finances, these courses have a narrower scope than finance courses. Accounting courses cover topics such as information systems, auditing, budget analysis, financial accounting, international accounting, quantitative analysis, tax accounting, and business strategy. Accounting courses can prepare you for a career as an accountant or other accounting-related jobs, such as budget analyst, payroll administrator, tax advisor, or bookkeeper.
What Skills Does an MBA Help You Develop?
MBA programs help you develop the practical and technical skills you’ll need in the business world, such as project management and marketing skills. You might gain additional skills if you choose to specialize in a certain area, such as finance. These skills are necessary for the long-term success of your business career.
MBA programs also help you develop soft skills that are just as important as practical and technical skills. When you’re in an MBA program, you’ll have a chance to work on leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. Other abilities you’ll hone during your MBA program include problem solving, decision making, and critical thinking. You’ll need to develop these skills to effectively handle day-to-day operations and situations as a business professional and achieve your career goals. The coursework during your MBA program provides you with opportunities to develop both soft skills and hard or technical skills.
If you’re looking for an MBA program that offers a high quality education while helping you develop the skills for a rewarding business career, please contact the Gary W. Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Our Master of Business Administration program is available as a fully online degree program or a hybrid program with online and in-person classes. Concentrations for our MBA program are also offered, including business analytics, finance, and healthcare administration.