What is an MBA? Everything You Need to Know

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After earning a bachelor’s degree, many students choose to return to grad school to continue their education. If you have any connection to the business industry, you’ve likely heard about an MBA degree, and perhaps you know a coworker or friend who’s earned one. 

Whether you decide to go back to school immediately or wait a few years before pursuing a second degree, an MBA is an excellent option for furthering your education. But what exactly is an MBA?

What is an MBA Degree?

In the most straightforward sense of the definition, MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. Like many graduate-level degrees, an MBA is associated with professionalism, hard work, and specialization.

These programs typically include classes focusing on: 

  • Organizational psychology and behavior
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership 
  • Management 
  • And more.

One of the hallmarks of any MBA program is the wide variety of course material. You can expect to gain a general breadth of knowledge in a lot of areas connected to the business world. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a degree path specific to a certain career or niche area of work, an MBA may not be right for you. 

An MBA is broad and meant to expose students to many aspects of business. MBA.com defines an MBA degree as “the world’s most popular graduate management degree.” With thousands of individuals who apply to these programs each year, the degree benefits the individual professional, as well as the organization they work for. 

However, in a world where students and professionals can earn almost any type of undergraduate or graduate degree, why is an MBA so popular for students and professionals interested in advancing their business careers? Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business may desire to apply for an MBA right after graduation. Others may want to gain a few years of experience in their field before earning their degree. 

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The Origins of the MBA degree

While over 1,000 MBA programs currently exist in the U.S. alone, Harvard introduced the first MBA program in 1908. Since then, as individuals and businesses alike began to see the benefits of an MBA, more and more universities — such as Point Loma Nazarene University — began to introduce their own programs across the country, and students have continued to flock to this secondary business degree with regularity. 

How are MBA Programs Accredited? 

MBA programs can be accredited by the Association of MBAs, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or EFMD Quality Improvement System. Additionally, programs like PLNU’s Fermanian School of Business, are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). However, even without this mark of approval, MBA degree programs hold high levels of credibility since they’ve been around for many years and empower hard-working and strategic business professionals.

How Long Does it Take to Earn an MBA?

The time it takes to complete an MBA varies. The Early Career MBA is designed for recent graduates while the General MBA program is curated for experienced working professionals who want to advance in their careers. Each can be completed in as few as 12 months.

  • International Business
  • Leading with Service
  • Leadership Communication
  • Financial Management

While a full-time MBA program can benefit individuals in many ways, taking 12-24 months to earn a graduate degree might not be as easy for professionals who are already working. Due to this, PLNU's Master of Business Administration program is designed to be completed in as few as 12 months. Students in the MBA program appreciate the flexibility to advance their careers while remaining employed at their companies or organizations while actively taking courses such as:

  • Business Ethics
  • Legal Environment of Business
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Applied Research Methods

Is Getting an MBA Hard?

Earning any type of graduate degree requires patience, dedication, and commitment. Workloads and classes are often more specialized and difficult than their undergraduate equivalents. However, while MBA programs consist of more theoretical classes and assignments, they also offer practical lessons and projects. MBA curriculum is designed to help students approach real-world issues and identify solutions. 

In most situations, finding success in the business field can come down to how prepared you are for your role as a leader. By developing strong knowledge, skills, and experience in the field, you can increase your chances of having a successful career you enjoy.

These programs help professionals develop new perspectives about problems they’ve encountered in the past. For example, perhaps a student has dealt with financial obstacles in their entry-level business jobs. Courses are designed to help students enhance their accounting and economics skills so they’re more prepared when they step into mid-level and high-level positions.

Professors also help students consider solutions to problems they might not have encountered yet. For example, perhaps students haven’t dealt with supply chain management issues in previous positions but will encounter them in future roles. Different courses help students contemplate what kind of business leaders they want to become by teaching them how to manage employees, create business plans, and engage in strategic marketing.

An MBA might be more difficult than earning an undergraduate degree in business, but that’s to be expected; the stakes are higher but so is your potential. Putting in the time and effort to succeed in an MBA program can yield many meaningful, long-term benefits.

Can Anyone Earn an MBA?

While there’s no standard, required business experience or undergraduate degree to apply to an MBA program, most universities require prospective students to have a bachelor’s degree and to take and pass the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) with appropriate scores. PLNU does not require the GMAT to apply to the MBA programs

Generally speaking, however, when applying to an MBA program, it’s always more helpful to have some business experience on your resume. Many former MBA students express that their experience in business school was enhanced by either working prior to applying or working while taking classes.

What Makes a Great MBA Program?

MBA programs range from full-time in person to part-time hybrid or fully online. PLNU offers both an Early Career MBA and General MBA program options. As one of the oldest secondary degree programs in the U.S., the Master of Business Administration was designed after the European post-bachelor’s degree program model to encompass a variety of topics young students would need to know before pursuing business.

Since then, these programs have continued to become broadened and specified to help students prepare for careers in:

  • Management
  • Organizational leadership
  • Hospitality
  • Entrepreneurship
  • And more

Many of the best MBA programs offer flexible course paths with students earning their degree in 24 months or less with options for financial aid and scholarships. Almost all MBA programs include some courses around accounting, business strategy, economics, and finance. Many also offer classes in human resources, statistics, ethics, sustainability, and technology and systems information. 

It’s important to remember, like any secondary degree program, the best MBA program is going to be the program that fits best with your schedule, current experience, and career goals. Regardless of which MBA program you pursue, this degree is widely considered one of the most helpful and applicable secondary degrees you can earn.

How Will an MBA Benefit My Career?

If you’ve been working in the field for a while and want a change or simply to renew your passion for business in the first place, an MBA can teach you innovative ways to address different ideas or problems. If you’ve been at a company for a while and want a promotion that’s seemed just out of reach, an MBA can be a stepping stone to a more advanced role. 

Additionally, if you’ve worked in plenty of other businesses but want to start, an MBA can cultivate your entrepreneurial ideas and help you establish yourself as a business owner.

Earning an MBA can help you jumpstart your business career, or it can help experienced business leaders continue to enhance their skills. 

If you’ve been wanting to break into the business industry but aren’t sure how to do so, earning a graduate program might be a good next step. According to the Business School Hiring Report: Corporate Recruiters Survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), “77% of the U.S. companies that responded to the survey planned to hire people with MBAs.” Employers have witnessed the benefits of MBA programs for several decades now since programs help both young and experienced students develop business management skills and leadership competencies.

Regardless of your educational background, an MBA can help you better understand business principles, communication tactics, ethics, and international and cross-cultural skills.


What Types of MBA Degrees Exist?

MBA degrees are extremely varied. Most will include a concentration element, so when researching possible programs, this is one of the most important options to consider.

If you’re interested in leadership, it might make sense to choose a program with a concentration in that area. Alternatively, you may even find a more specialized master’s degree with coursework similar to an MBA, such as a master’s in organizational leadership.

How Do I Start an MBA Program?

The process of applying for your MBA starts with researching various programs and reaching out to counselors or directors for more information. Make careful note of application deadlines so you can be sure to have your materials submitted on time. You can request more information about PLNU’s MBA programs here

After receiving more info, you’ll need to make a note of what your desired graduate school program requires in the application. Some programs require work experience; others require specific test scores on the GMAT or GRE. Plan to take the GMAT or GRE well before the application is due so your scores are ready to submit. 

It’s also a good idea to be prepared with two to three letters of recommendation from former professors, supervisors, colleagues, or personal connections before starting the application process. Do your research and make sure your recommenders are willing to send you positive letters of recommendation and can send them to you within the application deadline. Don't forget to also thank them for writing a letter on your behalf!

Once you have your scores and your letters of recommendation you can start the application process. You’ll most likely have to pay a one-time application fee to apply to any program, although some programs will waive this in extenuating circumstances. You’ll include your test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any other materials the application requires.

Applications may also require a written essay or personal statement. If so, be prepared to accurately reflect on your current experience and accurately communicate what you hope to gain from the program, as well as give back. 

After that, you’ll submit your application and wait to hear back from your chosen program(s). Some MBA programs can take a few months to respond.

What’s the Average Salary for MBA Graduates?

Pursuing a job for the sake of earning a specific salary isn’t necessarily the best way to find a career you’re passionate about. However, individuals who desire a career in business will be happy to know many management positions come with competitive salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in management occupations earned an annual median salary of $102,450 as of May 2021.

Specific salaries can vary, based on the specific business or industry. For example, the annual median salary of financial managers is $131,710 while the annual median salary of sales managers is $127,490.

According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) Survey, “median salaries for MBAs [are] $115,000 compared to $55,000 for bachelor's-degree holders.” While salaries can range based on job location, company, position title, and years of experience, the median salaries for MBA holders are higher than the median salaries of bachelor’s-degree holders.

MBA Programs in San Diego, California

Earning an MBA can have both short-term and long-term benefits for your life and business career. You can develop specialized skills, learn how to make sustainable data-driven decisions, and create solutions for complex problems.

If you’ve been looking for an MBA program in San Diego, consider looking into Point Loma Nazarene University’s Early Career MBA or General MBA program. With options to accommodate your life and work schedule, PLNU can help you take the next step on your journey in the business industry. 

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