By DeVry University
If you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree or are finishing it soon, you might be considering enrolling in an advanced degree program. But which degree should you choose? While master’s degrees are available in a variety of different fields, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be a flexible option.
If you’ve been asking yourself “why earn an MBA degree,” there are many reasons you might consider. People in many different industries pursue an MBA to meet a wide variety of career objectives. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons to earn an MBA, and exactly what the degree entails.
What Is an MBA Degree?
MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. Many professionals in the field of business strive to earn an MBA as their highest-level degree as it provides an opportunity to hone a deep understanding of business leadership, from finance to technology to people management. Because it covers so much ground, an MBA degree can be extremely flexible, making it a good option for those who want to pursue management roles.
MBA vs. Specialized Master’s Degree
An MBA is a type of master’s degree, but it is different from other specialized master’s degrees that you can earn. An MBA is primarily a business-oriented degree. You can choose a specialization such as finance or accounting, but the majority of classes you take will focus on broader business concepts. By contrast, a specialized master’s degree focuses primarily on the subject matter of the degree, along with a few business courses.
Those who wish to become accountants, for example, may prefer to earn a Master’s Degree in Accounting, while those who want to get into the accounting side of business management may prefer to earn an MBA with an Accounting Specialization. Of course, these paths may not apply to your specific situation, but a good rule of thumb is that those who want to delve deeply into a specific field may want to consider a specialized master’s degree, while those who are primarily focused on business with a general interest in a certain field may be better served by earning an MBA.
MBA Admission Requirements
Every school sets its own admission requirements for an MBA program. Some schools may require a personal interview, letters of reference, a minimum GPA or standardized test scores.
At DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management, for example, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Bachelor’s degree: All MBA applicants must hold a valid bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution.
- English proficiency: Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English.
- Math and verbal skills proficiency: MBA applicants at DeVry need either a 2.5 or higher undergraduate GPA or satisfactory scores on either the GRE, the GMAT or a Keller-administered admission exam.
There may also be prerequisite skills required, depending on your chosen program. Program descriptions and complete admissions requirements can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an MBA?
Exactly how long it takes to earn an MBA depends on your course load, if you take any breaks while completing the program or whether you attend full-time or part-time, but students can earn their degree in approximately two years or less. At DeVry, for example, we offer an MBA program1 that may be completed in as few as 10 courses2, which may allow some students to earn their degree in less than two years. If you hold an undergraduate degree in a qualifying business or technology field, you may also be eligible to waive up to three courses3, finishing your MBA degree in an even shorter timeframe.
An MBA can be a great choice for those who are unsure exactly where they want to land and may choose to earn a general MBA. Those who have a specific goal in mind might prefer to specialize. At DeVry, our MBA specializations include:
- Business Intelligence and Analytics Management
- Global Supply Chain Management
- Health Services
- Human Resources
- Information Systems Management
- Project Management
Why Earn an MBA?
Whether you choose a specialization or not, an MBA remains a highly flexible choice. But what can you do with an MBA degree? Why is earning an MBA the right choice for many people? Here are some of the reasons you might consider enrolling in an MBA program.
1. Pursuing Higher-Level Opportunities in Your Field
One of the biggest reasons to pursue an advanced degree is to open up the potential for new opportunities. Perhaps you have your eye on a specific job title, or maybe you want to take on more responsibility for shaping the direction of your current company. An MBA could help you better meet the requirements of companies who prefer advanced degrees for their employees.
2. Changing Careers or Working Toward a Role in a Different Industry
If you’ve been in the same industry for a while, you might be ready for a change. But how can you prove to a potential employer in a new field that you have what it takes? Earning an MBA can help you develop new skill sets to highlight on your resume. Choosing a specialization in the area you want to pursue could be especially beneficial, since you will have the chance to gain insight and learn skills that may be required for that industry. Whether you want to get into marketing, finance or health services, for example, a specialized MBA can help you fill in knowledge gaps about a particular industry.
3. Honing Your Skills in a Niche Area of Your Field
Even if you’re not planning a major career change, you might be interested in shifting focus to a particular area of your current field. Perhaps you’ve discovered that you have a knack for data analysis, or you might have some ideas on how to improve global supply chain issues within your industry. Earning an MBA can help you hone your skills, potentially preparing you to pursue a more niche position.
4. Increasing Your Earning Potential
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that, in general, those with a master's degree tend to earn more than those with only a bachelor’s degree. While there are no guarantees, earning your MBA could help increase your future earning potential.
The BLS also cites that while upper level professionals typically need a bachelor’s or a master’s in their field of work, they may also have an MBA as well.
5. Gaining Soft Skills
Employers often search for team members who have strong soft skills. These are non-technical skills that make use of an employee’s interpersonal abilities in the workplace.
An MBA program can be an excellent place to hone your soft skills, which can include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Communication: Whether you are speaking with coworkers or clients, communication skills form the backbone of workplace relationships. An MBA can help teach you techniques such as active listening, presenting your ideas and giving and receiving feedback.
- Teamwork: No one is an island, and learning how to collaborate with others at all levels of your company, regardless of job title or area of focus, can be a positive skill to acquire.
- Leadership: Being a good leader is more than simply telling others what to do. An MBA can teach you how to lead by example, motivate others and give feedback that is constructive rather than punitive.
- Problem solving: The modern office moves quickly, and you’ll need to solve problems as they arise. Good problem-solving skills run the gamut from quickly processing incoming data to looking for clues that may not be obvious.
- Organization: No matter what industry you’re in, odds are good that you will need to work on a variety of different project types. An MBA program can help you learn organizational skills to help keep your to-do list on track.
- Time management: Time management is an offshoot of organization. You’ll learn to plan out projects, dividing them into achievable milestones. You might also learn how to perform time estimates and manage projects throughout their lifecycle.
- Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to sort through conflicting data and draw logical conclusions while learning to recognize bias and evaluate sources. Learning how to effectively think through problems and solutions is a helpful skill to have in nearly any role.
- Decision making: Strong decision-making skills involve much more than a gut feeling. An MBA program can teach you how to balance different factors and opinions and make the most logical decisions with the information you have.
- Adaptability: Modern workers need to be flexible, adaptable and able to rapidly pivot. An MBA program may be able to teach you techniques for becoming more agile and better able to think on your feet.
- Conflict resolution: You’ll work with many different people throughout your career, some of whom may have personalities that clash with your own. An MBA program may help you learn to resolve conflicts rather than avoiding them, and to do so in a healthy way that doesn’t damage workplace relationships.
- Creativity: Not everyone is born creative. Your MBA program may contain hands-on scenarios that promote creativity and teach you to trust your own judgment while thinking about problems in different ways.
- Resourcefulness: Resourcefulness is the ability to get things done, even when challenges arise. Learning how to make things work, even when circumstances are less than ideal, can be very helpful in the workplace.
- Persuasion: At some point in your career, regardless of your industry or job title, you will need to be able to persuade others to see your point of view. MBA programs may help you learn the basic elements of persuasive communication and how to put them into practice.
While soft skills might not get you a job on their own, they can play an important role in highlighting your capabilities as you compete with other candidates.
6. Personal Satisfaction and Lifelong Learning
Humans are built to grow and evolve as we learn new things. If you’ve been out of school and settled in a career for a while, you might start to feel bored. Or you might simply be curious about topics such as leadership theories, project management or entrepreneurship. Earning an MBA is an opportunity to expand your understanding of new concepts and skills that can help you become a more well-rounded person and professional which can help boost personal satisfaction.
7. Learning the Tools and Technology Used in Your Industry
Technology evolves at an incredible pace. Remaining competitive means that employees need to keep up with the ever-changing needs of their organization. As you progress through your MBA program, you’ll have the opportunity to work with various technology or analytical tools, if applicable to your field. Getting this type of hands-on experience is a great way to show employers that you’re ready to hit the ground running in your role.
Does an MBA Matter in My Industry?
While earning an MBA may seem like the logical next step on your education journey, how can it help you in your specific area of interest? Here are a few examples.
MBAs for Technology Majors
If you’re in tech, there are many reasons to consider earning an MBA. While it is true that some companies might only require a bachelor’s degree for certain positions, an MBA with a Specialization in Information Systems Management, for example, can teach you many useful skills. These include, but are not limited to:
- Systems analysis
- Networking applications
- Global perspectives
MBAs for Business Majors
An MBA can be a beneficial degree to have when working in the business sector. If you’re considering starting your own company, a Specialization in Entrepreneurship will help you take a deep dive into what makes companies successful throughout their lifecycle, from conceptualization through implementation. Whether you want to start your own company or simply grow your business skills, this degree can help you prepare to pursue your goals. Things you’ll learn include:
- Venture finance
- Entrepreneurial execution
- Management theories
- Exit strategies
MBAs for Healthcare Majors
As the healthcare industry becomes more complex, data-driven and reliant on technology, it needs forward-thinking leaders who are capable of understanding both the big picture and the finer details. An MBA with a Specialization in Health Services can help you learn how to become a strong, well-rounded leader in this ever-evolving industry. You will also learn more about:
- Public and private health insurance
- Healthcare analytics
- The US healthcare model
- Healthcare collaboration
Should You Earn an MBA Degree?
Like anything else in life, earning your MBA depends on your goals and your reasons for pursuing the degree. Either a general or a specialized MBA can help you gain specific skills and knowledge that may help you prepare to pursue goals such as pursuing higher-level roles at your current employer, focusing on a more niche area within your field or changing industries entirely.
Earn an MBA in as Few as 10 Courses*
Are you ready to take the next steps in your education? For many people, online learning is the right move.
At DeVry University, we offer 10 MBA Specializations, all of which can be earned 100% online. Student resources, like academic tutoring4 and robust career support, can help you as you take the next steps toward your future. Classes start every 8 weeks.