Congratulations! You've decided to pursue your MBA, whether to get a promotion at your current job, switch career fields or accomplish a life-long goal of pursuing higher education. Here, we're diving into the different types of MBA programs to choose from, along with how you can secure MBA financing when you decide to take the plunge.
MBA, or Master in Business Administration, consists of a program of curriculum that provides a foundation in the core concepts of business, including management, finance, economics, sales, marketing, human resource management, and supply chain management.
There are many different types of MBA programs. The information below provides you with an overview the different types of MBA programs available based on your working situation, the types of specializations available, and how you'll find MBA financing.
Types of MBA Programs
There are a variety of MBA programs to fit your schedule. Many colleges and universities offer:
- Two-year Full-Time MBA Program - Requires full-time attendance, which means you can't easily work while attending school. Most traditional colleges and universities offer this type of program.
- Accelerated MBA Program - Usually completed in 18 months, the accelerated program is similar to the full-time program, but with less down time between semesters. For example, you may have to take classes over the summer and winter breaks.
- Part-Time or Weekend MBA Program - The part-time MBA program is popular with working adults, because it allows you to attend classes on the weekends or weekday evenings. The drawback is the part-time MBA program takes longer to complete.
- Executive MBA Program - This program takes two years to complete and is reserved for executives with eight or more years of experience. Classes generally meet on the weekends or evenings to accommodate a full-time work schedule.
- Distance Learning MBA Program - Another option for busy and working professionals, the distance learning program allows you to take classes from your computer and is less time intensive since there is no commute and coursework may be completed on your own schedule.
- Dual MBA Program - These are usually in combination with another closely related discipline. The most common is an MBA in combination with a Juris Doctor, a.k.a. the JD/MBA program. Other popular programs are the MBA/MA program and MBA/PhD program.
Types of MBA Specializations
The purpose of your MBA is to help you land the job you want in the area of business you want. To that end, there are many different MBA specializations to help you do that. Every college and university has its own set of options when it comes to MBA specializations, so it's important to consider your desired specialization before you choose your school. In addition to the more common specializations, like economics or finance, other specializations include:
- MBA in Health Care Management - Prepares you for middle to upper level management in healthcare. Keep in mind that many of these positions may require some sort of medical credential in addition to your MBA.
- MBA in Human Resources (HR) - Prepares you to work as the head of the HR department - advertising for, recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating and firing employees.
- MBA in Marketing - Prepares you for a job in marketing, which may include media purchasing, working with a creative team, or writing ad copy for an advertising agency or PR firm.
- MBA in Communication - The study of communications prepares you for jobs related to journalism, PR, media and advertising.
- MBA in Project Management - Project management is essential for fields like construction, technology, software development, architecture, and R&D firms.
- MBA in Entrepreneurship - Focuses on developing critical thinking skills necessary for flexibility and innovation in a rapidly changing environment, usually best suited for technology endeavors.
- MBA in IT Management - Prepares those with a background in programming, software development, CIS, database administration or IT to take on greater responsibilities managing a team.
In many cases, you may also have the choice not to specialize. In this case, you receive an MBA without a specialization attached. This is also referred to as a Vanilla MBA.
Online MBA vs Regular MBA
There are benefits and drawbacks to both online MBA programs and regular MBA programs. Studying online can help with issues like busy work schedules and family commitments. However, with an online MBA program, you will miss much of the interaction that goes on in the classroom with a regular MBA. However, a regular MBA program will not be flexible in terms of your time commitment and it will be very difficult to work while you attend school.
When people are considering an online MBA vs a regular MBA, the question of legitimacy always arises. People want to know if a company will take their online MBA as seriously as a regular MBA. Although online MBAs have as much credibility as a regular MBA, it's advisable to also talk to the companies where you'd like to work, and determine the hiring manager's views on an online MBA vs a regular MBA.
MBA programs are not cheap, with some of the most expensive ones from top-rated business schools costing upwards of $100,000, not including books. If you're not able to work during this time, you also have to tack on your loss of income to the total cost of your program. In order to finance your MBA, you can look into grants and scholarships, speak with your employer to see if they offer any sort of tuition reimbursement, and comparison shop student loan lenders online. By shopping around for your student loans, you can lock in a lower interest rate and potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
From deciding which type of MBA program to pursue to how you'll finance your MBA, you should do as much research as possible before making a decision. Best of luck on your journey!