Written by Sarah Shelley

Earning a bachelor's degree often opens the doors within your chosen industry, allowing you to pursue an entry-level position that may have growth potential. However, there may come a point in your business career when you want to work toward the next level — and that may once again require an investment in your education. An MBA degree is considered by many to be the premier graduate degree for aspiring business leaders. Knowing what is an MBA degree and what its professional impact may be can help you make the best decision for your career. 


Unraveling the Acronym: What is an MBA and What Does It Stand For? 

There's a lot of talk in the industry about the power of an MBA degree, but you may find yourself asking, what is an MBA? The acronym MBA stands for Master’s in Business Administration, and it's a graduate degree program geared toward business professionals who aspire to leadership positions or who want to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. 

The History and Purpose of MBA 

Some business students are surprised to find out that MBA is a relatively new degree program. While other degrees and areas of study have been around for centuries, the MBA degree was first introduced around the turn of the 20th century at Harvard University. According to LinkedIn, the business administration degree program was developed in response to demand from new and emerging industries who were looking for thoughtful, strategic and informed leaders. 

While the MBA degree program has grown and evolved, the purpose of this degree remains to equip business professionals with the advanced skills and knowledge needed to effectively lead and manage others. This degree program includes both theoretical and practical training, and it allows students to select a specialization or focus to carve out their niche within the world of business. 

The Global Impact of an MBA Degree 

The fact of the matter is, we are immersed in a global economy, and the MBA degree can uniquely prepare graduates to interact in a diverse, multicultural business landscape. Numerous MBA degree programs have an enhanced curriculum that explores topics such as international finance, global business strategy and global marketing. Through innovative coursework and immersive experiences, the MBA degree program provides students with a well-rounded global perspective that will position them for success after graduation. 

Who Is an MBA Degree Geared Toward? 

The MBA degree program is designed for aspiring leaders, and the most modern versions of this degree program are geared toward working professionals who want to advance in their careers. 

MBA for Professionals 

In many cases, business professionals interested in management or leadership opportunities will pursue an MBA degree. This program is designed with working professionals in mind, often allowing students to balance their existing work responsibilities along with their coursework. Online MBA degree programs are ideal for working professionals as they offer more flexibility and control than in-person programs. 

MBA for Entrepreneurs 

In other cases, students choose to pursue an MBA degree because they want to venture on their own, and they want to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to do so. Specialized MBA degree programs are available for aspiring entrepreneurs, providing them with advanced information about leveraging business technology, developing marketing strategies, creating an investment plan and more. 

Exploring the Different Types of MBA Programs 

As you begin to understand the professional impact of the MBA degree, you will find that there are a variety of different MBA programs available. By being aware of the different options available to you, you can invest in an MBA degree that will best align with your personal and professional goals. 

Traditional Full-Time MBA Programs 

The most well-established MBA degree program is the traditional, full-time program, which is an in-person degree program that takes two years to complete. Students who enroll in this degree program will need to attend classes full-time, so they are not usually able to work in their chosen industry while completing their MBA degree. Students who enroll in a traditional, full-time program can still earn professional experience because they can pursue internships in between semesters. 

Online MBA Programs 

Online MBA programs are an alternative to the traditional, full-time MBA, and they have been gaining popularity in recent years. Online MBA degree programs offer the same rigorous coursework as traditional programs, but they provide students with the flexibility to earn their degree online while also working in their chosen industry. When you enroll in an online MBA degree, you will be able to participate remotely while completing both synchronous and asynchronous coursework. Most online MBA degrees allow you to set your own pace, giving you the ability to earn your MBA degree in one or two years, depending on your capacity. 

Part-Time MBA Programs 

Part-time MBA programs are designed for working professionals not able to take a leave of absence from their job to complete their graduate degree. These programs may be offered both in-person and online, and they provide students with more flexibility and autonomy to pace themselves as they see fit. However, part-time MBA programs take longer to complete, with most students earning their degree within 3 years. 

Getting to the Core: MBA Coursework 

The MBA degree program is designed for students who have a solid understanding of basic business fundamentals, and who want to explore advanced topics and strategies in their chosen field. As a result, the coursework builds upon that foundation and provides them with actionable insight into the most recent business trends and strategies. Each course within the MBA program is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of the topic while enhancing their global perspective and honing their leadership skills.  

Essential Courses in an MBA Program 

The courses required as part of your MBA program may vary based on the school that you choose to attend. Some of the most common courses according to US News in an MBA program include: 

  • Operations management – This course provides students with an advanced understanding of business operations, particularly from a leadership perspective. 
  • Business leadership – By offering an overview of the best business leadership techniques, strategies and skills, students will learn how to become innovative and effective leaders in their field. 
  • Business ethics – This course allows students to explore ethical issues and standards in business, giving them an opportunity to develop into a conscientious business leader. 
  • Organizational leadership – By outlining the organizational structures of successful businesses, this course allows students to develop a better understanding of what leadership is, and what it isn't. 
  • Business strategy – This course explores the most advanced business strategies, considering the global economy and the rise of advanced technology. 

MBA Specializations and Concentrations 

MBA degree programs may offer specializations and concentrations, giving you the ability to customize your path and pursue a degree program that aligns with your goals. 

Some of the most popular MBA concentrations include: 

Career Prospects After an MBA 

When considering what is an MBA degree and who is it for, most students enroll in an MBA degree program for several reasons: 

  • They are interested in pursuing a higher-level position within their organization. 
  • They want to break into a new industry and enjoy more growth potential within their career. 
  • They want to become an entrepreneur and pursue their own professional endeavors. 

Fortunately, regardless of your reasoning for pursuing an MBA, you will likely find that your career prospects improve significantly after graduation. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for management occupations is positive, with an anticipated 1.1 million new jobs predicted each year between 2022 and 2032. In addition, the BLS notes that the median annual salary for management occupations is about $107,000, which is significantly higher than the median wage of all other occupations, which currently rests at about $46,000. 

Industries Where MBAs Are in Demand 

While the MBA degree is respected and appreciated in every industry, this graduate degree program is in high demand in several growing sectors. These are the industries where MBA degrees are in the highest demand: 

  • Consulting 
  • Finance 
  • Technology 
  • Packaging and Supply Chain 
  • Healthcare 

Navigating the MBA Admission Process 

The MBA admission process will vary based on the school that you are applying to and the type of MBA degree that you are pursuing. These are the typical MBA admission requirements: 

  • Bachelor's degree in a related field. 
  • Professional experience highlighting your business acumen. 
  • A completed MBA degree program application. 
  • Transcripts from all relevant college coursework. 
  • Letters of recommendation. 
  • Entrance exam results. 

In some cases, a university may also require you to complete an interview prior to enrolling in the MBA degree program. If you are interested in an MBA degree program, and you want to know more about admission requirements, you can contact the school admissions office for specific information. 

What Qualities Do MBA Admissions Look For? 

Due to the popularity of the MBA degree and the impact that it can have on an individual's career, there are often several applications for this degree program. The most sought-after qualities in MBA candidates include: 

  • Effective leaders – Universities want to admit students self-motivated, able to manage their own time, capable of self-reflection and willing to accept constructive feedback. 
  • Competent individuals – The admissions team is going to be looking for students who have a well-developed business foundation and an understanding of the most effective business practices. 

Earn Your Master of Business Administration at University of the Cumberlands 

At University of the Cumberlands, we offer a dynamic online MBA degree program designed to expand upon your existing foundation and provide you with an advanced understanding of the most effective business strategies and modern practices. This program will provide you with the skills needed to elevate your career in business. 

Request more information about our online MBA program today.