A master's degree in business administration is one of the most prestigious degrees that a university offers. MBA programs instill in students strong business acumen and teach them to be future leaders in the business world. Many MBA students complete their programs while working full-time, since many universities offer evening classes. Most day programs can be finished within two years with full-time classes, or four years with a part-time curriculum.
MBA students follow a rigorous curriculum requiring students to complete 18 to 40 credits of required core coursework in the first year. Classes are usually between 3 to 5 credits. In addition, they need to take 30 to 50 credits of elective coursework in their second year, which is around 12 to 20 classes. These electives may include field-study classes that allow students to practice what they have learned in real-life business settings.
An MBA curriculum may offer classes on strategy, management, finance, organizational design, operations and marketing. These classes are taught by professors who are scholars in their field, as well as by established professionals who have years of experience in the business world. Many programs such as the one offered at Harvard Business School allow students to cross-register in classes in other graduate programs.
Schools that offer MBA degrees range from prestigious Ivy League universities to schools that grant an online MBA degree. There are also many competitive international universities that offer an MBA degree, such as Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) and International Institute for Management Development (IMD). Magazines such as Business Week and U.S. News & World Report publish rankings of business schools annually. Business school rankings are important because employers place emphasis on where candidates received their MBA degree.
There may be universities that offer dual-degree programs, where students can pursue an MBA degree simultaneously with another degree. Credits needed for a dual-degree program depend on agreements between school departments, but they are usually around 75 to 100 credits in total.
Students can gear their MBA curriculum toward a certain specialty. They may take more classes in a particular area, such as strategy, communication, information systems, accounting, entrepreneurship, international, marketing and nonprofit. Many students who graduate from business school eventually work in upper management in consulting, at investment banks and multinational corporations, and at foundations.
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