For experienced professionals who are looking to kick their careers out of a lull, there are few better ways to get ahead than by earning a Master's of Business Administration, more commonly referred to as MBA. The degree has an excellent reputation, known as one of the most flexible and widely applicable master's degrees available. This flexibility, however, can make deciding on a program difficult, as there are dozens of different options for formats and specializations which you'll need to navigate. There are also some other types of master's degrees in business that may need to be considered, as the MBA's more general application isn't always the best option. Here are a few tips to take into consideration when trying to decide on a business master's program.
The first thing to consider is what kind of MBA degree program is best for you and your life. Today, master's degree programs are available in a variety of formats, designed to accommodate different lifestyles and learning methods. The most well known, of course, is full-time studying; while this is often the fastest way to obtain a degree, not everyone can take the time off of work for two years to attend school full-time. Universities also commonly offer part-time study, which lowers the number of classes taken at one time, making it easier to do alongside work at the cost of increasing the total time needed to complete the degree to three or four years. Accelerated MBA programs are also increasingly common, which compact the course of study to fit into a single year or less, during which time studying and coursework will likely be your main activity. Online MBA programs are the next format, allowing you to study on your own schedule, even while working. Online programs tend to be more affordable, but also aren't as ideal for networking with classmates. The last format, and the least common, is the executive MBA, which is designed for the most experienced professionals. Executive MBAs focus classes on weekends and evenings, allowing students to continue working uninterrupted while still advancing their education. Executive programs do tend to be more expensive, however, and consequently have smaller class sizes. Deciding which program format is best for you will be a careful calculation of time, money, and speed of study, so be sure to make this decision before even considering applications.
The next thing to consider is specialization. MBA programs typically have concentrations in different areas of business which can help to tailor the degree to fit your career. These concentrations range from typical business fields, like accounting or finance, to more exotic and unique options, like cybersecurity or e-commerce. While all these programs will share the basic courses in common, such as classes on management techniques, concentrations enable students to study in exactly the areas they are interested in and develop expertise within that field. Specialization is key to obtaining the maximum value out of an MBA, but your concentration doesn't have to align with your previous career up to this point. Many people use MBAs to change careers, building up the necessary college-level knowledge of a subject to excel even at high positions.
MBAs are not the only type of master's degree in business to choose from, however. If you are already happy in your career field and hoping to delve as deeply into it as possible, you may be better suited for a Master of Science program in that field. A Master of Science in Accountancy, for example, can be a great choice for those who have a serious love of accounting, and is usually a better fit for those planning to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) than an MBA might be. The MS in Finance is in a similar position, with more specialized niches like risk management better suited by the concentrated degree than the more general MBA. A good guideline to consider when deciding which degree to pursue is how dedicated you are to a particular field, and how much you enjoy it. If there's a real passion for the field in you, it may be wise to consider the more focused degree. If not, and your main goal is to change careers or simply get a boost for higher pay and better jobs, then an MBA is likely the better path.
The decision of which path to take is, in the end, up to you, and pursuing higher education is always something that should be based on personal desire and dedication. Be sure to do your own research, and consider these factors when deciding on the degree that's best for you.
The decision of which path to take is, in the end, up to you, and pursuing higher education is always something which should be based on personal desire and dedication. Be sure to do your own research, and consider these factors when deciding on the degree that's best for you.