An MBA stands for a Master of Business Administration, so it falls under the general umbrella of Masters degrees as part of the social sciences discipline, however, it focuses much more on acquiring and improving business skills, for example, accounting, employee relations and management.
Whilst many Masters degree programmes could include elements of business development and skills, none go into as much depth or detail as an actual MBA would do, making them the qualification of choice for those who want a career in business – whether as an entrepreneur or within a company.
In order to qualify for a Masters degree, you will need to have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject at an appropriate level. Along with your application, you will also need to submit a personal statement and referees to vouch for your appropriateness for the programme.
Some Masters programmes also require work experience in a particular field although this depends on the programme you want to study and the institution you are applying to. There may also be varied application requirements in different countries so you should research your chosen institution beforehand.
Masters degrees typically require up to two years of full-time study, within which time you will need to meet the semester credit requirements in order to obtain enough of them to qualify for graduation.
There are now also options for flexible learning online or built around those in full-time employment so you don’t need to quit your job, but these will take significantly longer to complete.
Many careers now require a Masters degree in order to progress, such as STEM fields, Education and Healthcare professionals. Of course, Masters degrees are optional but to excel in any field you will need to obtain a Masters at some point.
An MBA is one of the most popular postgraduate course in the world, with most universities and institutions offering them as a core part of their prospectus.
In order to apply for an MBA, you will have to have an undergraduate degree in an appropriate field at an appropriate level; many MBAs also require a level of work experience to be demonstrated to prove your suitability for the programme.
As well as the suitable qualifications you will also need to pass a GMAT or GRE test before you are admitted on your MBA course. Some countries may have separate admissions tests alongside or instead of the GRE or GMAT, but you will have to pass an admissions test of some kind before being accepted onto any MBA course.
The MBA itself can take between 2 or 7 seven years to complete depending on your time commitment – many opt for a 3-year full-time course as a continuation of their studies, although there are flexible options to account for those who are working full time or part-time.
The course structure is similar to a general Masters degree in that there are modules that need to be completed in order to obtain the required amount of credits to graduate, with each module awarding a number of credits upon completion.
The most popular option for most students wanting to study a Masters is to go straight into one from their undergraduate studies, staying in higher education full time until they have completed the course.
Another popular option is for students to take a year or two out to obtain work experience, which will make for a better Masters application and improve their chances of getting accepted into the programme.
The postgraduate nature of Masters and MBA programmes means that there tend to be more mature students on them, with individuals who may have worked in their current role for years and want to complete a Masters either to advance in a current role or to improve their job prospects.
Ultimately there is no right or wrong time to complete a Masters or an MBA, although with an MBA it is generally better to complete it early in your career as this will help you advance in your role or be a big part of your entrepreneurship.
Most universities and institutions offer a wide range of Masters or MBA programmes as part of their prospectus, so there are many options to choose from when deciding where to complete your study.
There are also a number of business schools throughout the world that have expertise in providing MBA programmes along with other key business qualifications, some of which are much better than university courses.
One thing to bear in mind when deciding where to study is the amount of time you will be spending in the city or country you are studying in; especially if you are signing up for another full-time course over three years or more.
A popular option for many students is to start a Masters programme at the same university or institution where they completed their undergraduate degree. This has the benefit of allowing you to stay in a location where you are comfortable and likely settled without too much disruption to your lifestyle.
The proximity to your job and home life may also be a factor if you are planning to complete a Masters or MBA around your current job, as choosing an institution that’s very far away may not be practical.