A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is the next logical step for many business professionals who want to advance their careers while also honing their business, management and leadership skills. Just how hard is an MBA to complete? What MBA requirements can you easily meet, and which do you need more time to complete? Do you have what it takes?
Answering these questions and others may not be as straightforward as one would hope because there are lots of variables to consider, including the school, the MBA program, the field of study, attendance basis and much more. Plus, every individual is different, with varying skills, knowledge, strengths and weaknesses.
Therefore, to answer the question of an MBA’s difficulty and to determine if you’re up for it, we’ll explore various aspects of an MBA program, looking at what you can expect if or when you decide to pursue this highly respected business degree. Once you’ve discerned these items, you’ll be closer to deciding for yourself if you’re up to the challenge.
An MBA is an internationally recognized business degree with numerous requirements that must be met before being considered as a candidate for acceptance into its ranks. Typical documentation packages include application forms, undergraduate transcripts, test scores or waivers, resumes, essays and reference letters. Each of these components has its own set of MBA requirements.
Let’s take a look at the items you’ll need to prepare when you decide to apply. Prerequisites vary from school to school, so be sure to ascertain the requirements of each school to which you intend to apply. Additionally, prerequisites may change from one year to the next; therefore, if you are reapplying, be sure to recheck all requirements.
Most programs require a “four-year degree or equivalent,” with the equivalent being a three-year degree more commonly found with international students.
An applicant’s GPA is critically important for a student who is petitioning for test waivers and for those applying to the best business schools. According to BSchools.org, top-level business school applicants had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.53 while applicants to all lower-ranked schools’ programs had an average of 3.37 GPA.
Most MBA programs require an admissions tests such as the GMAT or the GRE, although many schools also offer waivers, especially for their online programs and to applicants with several years of work experience. In fact, qualified candidates may receive waivers automatically.
Studying to sit for the GMAT is demanding, especially if you are working a full-time job. In fact, it’s likely to take up quite a bit of the entire application process – at least four months. Since many people take the test multiple times, some recommend allocating as much as a year. Therefore, applying for a waiver or taking the test is one of those MBA requirements that should be addressed early in the application process.
MBA Application Essays
Essay writing is the second-most time-consuming aspect of the application process. It takes time to write a good essay, especially when best practices are employed. Because this step is so important, most applicants to popular business schools hire admissions consultants to assist them with their essay writing needs.
Application forms ask for basic information about candidates, such as work experience and education. They also request additional documentation be included, such as transcripts.
Although there is no hard-and-fast rule concerning work experience, the general consensus among experts is that a minimum of two years is required with an average of four to five years of full-time work experience being the norm. Although certain time period guidelines are recommended by the experts, quality of work experience is more important than quantity. Too much work experience (length of time) as well as too little can be detrimental to acceptance, as well.
Part-time and online programs are more flexible/forgiving when it comes to work experience. Executive MBA (EMBA) applicants require more work experience. Most require a minimum of four years; however, most EMBA applicants average seven years of experience and many have ten years or more.
Cost of MBA
An MBA can come with a hefty price tag. A number of factors can affect the cost, including MBA degree type and the school attended. Cost can be offset, however, by applying early for an MBA scholarship or attending the program on a part-time basis.
When determining the “cost” of obtaining an MBA, you need to also consider the wages lost if your ability to work is reduced or eliminated in pursuit of your MBA degree. The loss of salary can be substantial; however, the return on your investment will easily pay for itself in the long term and maybe even quite quickly.
The full-time tuition cost at leading business schools varies; however, a two-year program can run between $60K to over $120K at a top business school.
Many people just can’t afford the loss of income and must pursue their MBA on a part-time basis. There’s a bonus in this scenario in that part-time programs generally cost a fraction of what you’d expect to pay when attending full-time. Typically, the MBA received is the same whether pursued part- or full-time.
Executive MBAs can be very pricey, exceeding even that of a full-time MBA program. Employers, however, often pay a portion of the tuition cost. They may also ask that you sign a contract, agreeing to remain with the company for a certain period of time following graduation.
An MBA is one of the most prestigious qualifications a person can achieve, and it looks good on a resume too. In fact, many Fortune 500 executives can boast of its appearance on theirs. By the time most people are ready to pursue an MBA, they have been in the workforce for at least four or five years and are ready to up their game professionally. An MBA is the next logical step for those who want to climb the corporate ladder.
Core coursework for an MBA covers various areas of business administration, such as economics for managers, business communications, accounting for managers, marketing management, human resources, organizational behavior and leadership, information technology for business, financial management, business ethics, corporate entrepreneurship and innovation, business law and quantitative decision analysis for business.
Some classes will be specific to the focus of the MBA program.
Types of MBA Degrees: Managing Your Time
Although schools may have various MBA programs, there are three main types of MBA degrees – full-time, part-time and an Executive MBA.
Although some schools offer accelerated programs, most full-time MBA programs take two to three years to complete. Because full-time programs require fully scheduled daily classwork, it’s incredibly difficult to pursue one when holding down a full-time job. When taking part in a full-time program, you’ll spend a lot of time in teamwork activities and networking with peers, providing connections that will be valuable in the future.
A part-time MBA may be right for you if you need or want to work full-time or have other obligations that prevent you from pursuing full-time studies. Classes often take place on weekday evenings and/or weekends. Online classes may be available, as well as hybrid programs that allow you to attend a mixture of in-person and online classes.
The time it takes to complete a part-time MBA depends on the program and class schedule; however, most people complete the program somewhere between two and six years.
Executive MBAs (EMBA)
An Executive MBA (EMBA) is geared towards applicants who have a higher level of work experience or hold high-level/senior management positions. Students generally pursue an EMBA part-time, and it’s typically completed in two years.
Many schools allow their students to pursue 100% online MBAs on a part- or full-time basis. Coursework may also be a mixture of classroom and online learning through a hybrid program. An online MBA allows you to pursue an MBA anywhere, even while continuing to work full-time.
How to Know if You’re Ready to Pursue an MBA
When is the right time to pursue your MBA, and how do you know if you’re ready to meet the intense demands of an MBA program? The answers to these questions vary.
Although you may want to rush in, this decision requires serious contemplation. Knowing the answers to the following will help you determine if you’re ready to pursue an MBA. It will also help you answer some questions the admissions team may have.
Know Your Why
Why do you believe an MBA is the next step for you? There are many reasons to pursue an MBA – both professional and personal. Some include:
- You want to change careers or pursue a new professional goal
- You’ve stagnated and need help for your next career step
- You want to gain skills taught in business school
- You want a better future for yourself and your family
- You want/need to create a better professional network
Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses
It’s important to know yourself and your capabilities; however, few people take the time necessary to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
A strength is something that comes easily or naturally to you. A strength is a quality about yourself you can use and rely on. In knowing your strengths, you know the qualities about yourself that you can leverage – the things you can use to push yourself further.
Weaknesses, on the other hand, are areas you need to develop and build. Knowing a weakness gives you the opportunity to turn it into a strength. Ignoring a weakness allows it to remain a weakness and a stumbling block.
Assess Your Work-Life Balance
Time management is a very important skill for MBA students. Without effective time management skills, you cannot achieve the correct work-life balance. Specific time must be allotted to work, family, school and more if one is to successfully meet the demands of an MBA program.
Assessing your work-life balance will help you determine if you have the time necessary to pursue an MBA or if changes will need to be made.
With delivery methods including 100% online and our flexible hybrid option, UTC’s MBA degree programs are a great fit for full-time students, working adults and anyone in between. UTC also offers several career-focused educational MBA degree options that guarantee you’ll receive the training you need to ensure your long-term business success. Contact us for more information and to learn how we can help you pursue your career goals.