If you are interested in career advancement in a corporate environment, then an MBA is something you need to seriously consider. Not only is it one of the most prestigious qualifications any graduate can acquire, but it can also equip you with knowledge and skills that will help you achieve your professional goals.
Although, the initials stand for Master of Business Administration, the truth is that an MBA is far from a traditional postgraduate programme. In fact, it’s extremely intensive and almost guarantees professional growth.
What is an MBA?
An MBA is a postgraduate qualification that prepares students for management positions in business and is highly valued by employers around the world. In fact, MBAs are often considered a fast-track to promotions.
The majority of these programmes help students gain an overview of key business practices and develop skills in management, marketing and accounting. Note, that these courses are quite challenging, and also generally cost more than other master’s programmes,so they can be quite a financial commitment.
Because an MBA can costs a lot; prices range from £10,000 to £15,000 for a year, while prestigious universities such as Oxford can charge significantly more (e.g £45,000) - it can be difficult to decide whether to take this step or not.
But, there are many reasons to choose this postgraduate degree to boost your career.
- Increases your earning potential: It’s been proven that an MBA qualification can increase your salary by up to 50 per cent.
- Promotion: Because it is so prestigious in the business world, graduates are far more likely to get promotions than their counterparts who do not have one.
- Business Knowledge: No other course or programme can help you gain the insight that this postgraduate course can.
- Leadership skills: MBAs are created to mould future leaders, and through these programmes you will learn everything you need to know to successfully lead teams.
- Networking Opportunities: One of the most significant benefits of an MBA is that it gets you introduced to important people. Whether these people are classmates who are going to end up running companies or tutors who have connections with every major player in the industry, it’s important to hone your networking skills before showing up for class.
- Entrepreneurship Opportunities: Many people dream of starting their own business, but few possess the willpower and skills to do it. An MBA can help prepare you for this significant move.
Types of MBA
Although MBAs have been around since the beginning of the 20th century, it’s only in the past few decades that they have gained so much exposure. During this time the field has expanded and developed massively, and there are currently many different programmes available. The programmes are now tailored to the specific needs of students, and they can usually be placed into four categories.
A general MBA is the most common type of programme. It’s targeted towards people who wish to develop and fast-track their careers. Ideal candidates should possess some experience (a minimum of 3 years is generally required) which means that you’ll have to spend some time in the workforce before applying for such a programme.
Executive MBAs are more high calibre than general MBAs and tailored to people who are already in senior corporate positions and who are looking to rise to executive positions. There are generally more strict requirements in place for these types of courses so expect a lot more scrutiny when applying. An average of five years in a corporate environment is required for this type of programme.
Specialist MBAs are targeted towards professionals who are looking to gain extensive knowledge and experience in a specialised area of their targeted industry. They generally require students to focus on a single, specialised, area and as such can provide a lot of insight into the chosen sector.
A mini-MBA is essentially a highly intense course that takes students through the most critical information offered in general MBAs. It’s an ideal option for people who are already in a managerial position and need to brush up on field-related knowledge. It can also be great for professionals who want to test the waters of this qualification without committing too much time. An increasing number of institutions are now offering this option online.
Top MBA Programmes
Quite literally every university offers an MBA programme these days but if you are interested in reaping the benefits mentioned earlier you need to focus on programmes that are credible. Keep in mind that employers aren’t just interested in seeing an MBA qualification on your job application, they are also interested in seeing that you’ve got the qualification from a trustworthy institution.
The Financial Times run an annual study on all MBA programmes. Below you’ll find the 5 programmes that topped this year’s list.
Insead has been at the top for the past couple years, and it’s not hard to see why. With three fully integrated campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and an accelerated ten-month curriculum, Insead is very serious about shaping tomorrow’s business leaders. Requirements include an average of 5 years relevant work experience which is nothing compared to the average 95 per cent salary increase.
With a 93 per cent chance of salary increase once the programme has been completed, it’s no wonder that Financial Times ranks this programme as the second best in the world. Like all MBA programmes in the USA, this course takes a full two years to complete so it’s definitely a huge commitment, but with a 74 per cent value for money rating there’s no doubt that this course can help improve your career.
As an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania is considered as one of the best universities in the US. Wharton, its business school has a long standing tradition of top notch laureates and with an eye-popping 95 per cent rate of people employed within the first three months of graduation, it’s not hard to see why. Data report a 92 per cent salary increase for graduates from this school.
Another Ivy League college in this top five list, Harvard Business School has traditionally been one of the best schools for MBA programmes. Data reports a stunning 97 per cent salary increase for graduates from this programme, while 30 per cent of graduates report a senior management or executive position only three years after receiving graduating.
The only British university in the list, Cambridge’s MBA has a reputation as one of the most highly ranked programmes in the world. Graduates from this programme should expect up to 107 per cent salary increase, and unlike its American counterparts, this postgraduate degree only takes a year to complete. What’s more, the programme is highly focused on experiential learning and there are currently two client projects that the department is running.
Requirements vary depending on the school and programme you choose, but you should expect universities to request another degree or equivalent title from an internationally recognised body. Having said that, some universities will also take on professionals who do not hold another degree, but have significant experience in management.
Most schools also require some relevant work experience. Expect a minimum of three years for general MBA courses and five for executive courses.
More than academic requirements, however, admission tutors are interested in seeing people who are motivated. As mentioned earlier, MBAs require a lot of determination and commitment, and you need to be able to demonstrate this.
Deciding to enrol on an MBA programme is a big decision, both in terms of time and money. But, it’s the right decision to make if you are interested in management or executive positions.
Do you think MBAs deserve all this hype? Let us know in the comment section below.