What is an MBA?
The Master of Administration (MBA) degree is that one certification that is in a class of its own, a proof that the bearer has acquired the necessary skills to manage any business of any size and in any industry.
As the 4th Industrial Revolution kicks into full gear, the MBA degree becomes even more critical for businesses who want to meet the needs of the present and future, as well as thrive in a fiercely competitive environment.
The MBA is an internationally-recognised degree packed with the essential skills and knowledge required to take strategic decisions and oversee the day-to-day running of all kinds of businesses.
MBA courses are designed to generally equip the candidates with the crucial skills they would need to function effectively as business leaders or in management positions.
Beyond privately owned businesses, an MBA is also vital in the public sector where decisions about how to manage public funds for the good of society are made as well as in the development sector which includes non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations.
Candidates are expected to study as many as 12 modules. They would, subsequently, be assessed using formative and summative tests and exams.
Candidates are expected to score a specific number of points earned from such assessments, assignments, and examinations.
Most professional MBA programmes also require a candidate to research a chosen topic and after that write a (mini) dissertation as part of the requirements for fulfilling the conditions of getting awarded an MBA.
Why Study for an MBA?
Since the turn of the 20th century when the first steam-powered machines and assembly-line factories ushered in the 1st Industrial Revolution, the need for highly skilled managers to oversee automation and complex processes became evident.
That innovation then resulted in the creation of senior management-focused academic programmes, otherwise called business management.
This need for well-trained managers, subsequently, necessitated the creation of specialised institutions that are designed to cater to these needs. Such an institution is commonly called a business school.
If this kind of education was that important a hundred years ago, then it is even more crucial today, and indispensable for managing businesses, going forward.
The digital revolution sweeping the world at the moment is a visible indication that a whole lot is going to change with the way businesses are started, operated, and sustained.
5G technology, coupled with artificial intelligence, faster and more efficient automation, and e-commerce is about to transform the world into one giant never-sleeping organism that is connected seamlessly, breaking cultural, physical, and language barriers in its wake.
This anticipated transformation has reached a fever-pitched crescendo, prompting present business owners, international conglomerates, and startups to rethink how they make strategic decisions as it affects their businesses and its relationship with the customers and the world at large.
From sourcing raw materials to production, packaging, marketing and distribution, advertisement, payroll, and sundry aspects of a business, there is going to be a cataclysmic shift in the way decisions are made.
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How Significant is an MBA Degree?
For an organisation to survive in this swiftly evolving corporate world, it would have to mutate; the managers would need to change the way they do things and adapt to the new changes imminently coming soon.
A rigid business with an inflexible mode of operation would not survive the rapid change.
Current realities confirm that assertion considering the number of mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships taking place at breakneck speed – and daily – all over the world.
It is evident, then, that there is no better time to be a certified MBA graduate because all these changes require people that are highly skilled in the art of business, people who have been well-trained in the science of taking hard and timely decisions that would flow with the complex nature of new business models.
Are There Different Types of MBA Degrees?
Even though candidates studying for a Master of Business Administration degree focus on several compulsory modules throughout the programme, many universities and standalone business schools around the world offer specialised disciplines of the degree.
To be considered well-trained and qualified for the certificate, each candidate is expected to study and pass the examinations for several courses including Economics, Management, and Finance Management, among others.
Be that as it may, there are specialised MBA programmes focused on streamlined disciplines. Some of these are:
- Supply Chain/Operations Management
- Information and Communication Technology
- Global/International Business
- Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability
These specialised MBA programmes (otherwise called a ‘major’ or ‘concentration’) are specifically designed to enhance the careers of people who already work in such fields and are interested in building a career in such a particular sector.
Must I Attend Classes to Get an MBA Degree?
Beyond cultural and language barriers, the internet has liberalised access to information and education hence the race business schools are engaging in to offer the MBA degree online, consequently reaching even more people who may not be able to attend classes physically.
Cheaper data, faster internet speed, and mobile devices have combined to make it easier for more people to be able to access MBA programmes irrespective of their locations.
Thus, the online option is becoming very popular since it gives candidates more flexibility to study at their convenience, research a larger bank of data, journals, books, and other such essential study tools than their local library could ever offer.
There is also the option of exclusive weekend programmes and night schools for really busy professionals who desire contact learning as opposed to virtual interactions.
These variations of MBA degrees are focused more on modules designed to teach practising managers and business leaders the fine art of corporate governance, leadership, and change management, among others.
Who Can Apply?
Most renowned standalone business schools and university business schools generally require that the potential candidate possess a first degree as well as some years of professional work experience.
However, it is at the discretion of individual institutions to set minimum requirements for entry into the programme as there is no one-size-fits-all model in this respect.
While some waive specific basic minimum requirements for mature and well-experienced managers, others demand that the potential candidate possesses a first degree, a statement of purpose, and other related qualifications before they can gain entry into the programme.
Who Should Apply for a Master of Business Administration Degree?
While the MBA programme is open to all who are qualified and interested, this degree is even more critical for thought leaders and business managers in all sectors – considering the forthcoming change that is about to transform the way business is carried out at the moment.
The MBA degree is highly essential for mid-level managers, aspiring managers, operations executives, hedge fund and financial managers, and other such leaders who would make decisions that would seriously affect the business, the employees, customers, shareholders, and its external environment.
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How Much Does It Cost to Acquire an MBA Degree?
Now, this is where it gets very tricky!
As different as the names and logos of each of the 13,000+ business schools are from one another, so is the difference in the fees they charge.
While many of these schools are part of, and run by, universities all around the world, a big chunk is owned and run as a private business (but required to be accredited by education boards in respective countries).
Related to that is the fact that many of these business schools are classified as ‘traditional’ since they have been around for as many as 130 years.
On the other hand, many business schools are classified as ‘modern’ because they evolve fast, transition into new trends (like e-learning), and are quite flexible in the quest to meet the demands of present and future businesses.
In effect, fees for the MBA degree vary widely.
Be that as it may, the reason for desiring such an advanced degree would determine which school a potential candidate eventually chooses and that, in turn, would determine how much he or she would be paying for the degree.
Since the future is going to be defined by thought leaders and decision-makers, it becomes even more essential that such people are well trained and guided while acquiring the managerial skills that such responsibilities demand.
Whether in business, in the public sector, or everyday life generally, skills and knowledge acquired towards getting an MBA degree would transform the candidate into a better human being that can take conscious decisions timely as well as manage people, businesses, the public, and the planet appropriately.