MBA programs are applied graduate programs, which gives students the tools necessary to succeed in a variety of professional careers. The particulars of what MBA programs teach students vary across programs and formats. Traditionally, MBA programs have two years of coursework, of which the first year mainly consists certain course requirements. These requirements prepare students for their second-year courses, which are mainly electives in a particular area of interest.

Business Basics

MBA programs vary greatly, but all programs aim to teach their students standard graduate-level theories of business and management. MBA programs require students to take a certain number of core courses in subjects such as statistics, economics, accounting, finance and leadership. All of these courses are applied, meaning that students learn information that is relevant to business, rather than the academic and theoretical aspects of a material. For example, a course in statistics covers only the statistical concepts directly related to interpreting and analyzing business data.

Advanced Areas of Business

In addition to learning graduate-level theories of business and management, students in MBA programs also take electives that build upon the material covered in the core courses. Many MBA programs offer a variety of specializations that allow students to choose an area of interest. Common areas of specialization are finance, international business, marketing, accounting and real estate. Some specialized MBA programs may also offer additional areas of specialization, such as information technology. These specializations allow students to gain a thorough understanding of a particular area of business.

Data Analysis Skills

Students who complete an MBA programs learn to interpret and analyze data. These are important skills for all business people, but they are especially important for those who pursue careers in managerial positions, like many MBA graduates. Thus, MBA programs require students to take mathematically rigorous courses, such as advanced business statistics, to give them the tools necessary to perform data analysis. MBA programs develop these skills further in the second year of the program by requiring students to work on case studies and write policy analysis essays.

Leadership Skills

Another important aim of many MBA programs is to give their graduates a solid foundation and understanding of collaboration and leadership. Most courses in MBA programs require students to work in teams to solve problems, which mimics the real-world business environment. Furthermore, most programs also require students to take courses in leadership to prepare them for future managerial positions.