What is an MBA?

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The MBA is a specialized postgraduate degree for professionals who want to master the science and application of management models used to operate businesses. Those who pursue this degree take on concentrated studies in marketing, human resources, accounting, economics, finance and business administration. The degree is considered so prestigious in the business world that some executive level jobs make it a requirement. Some HR recruiters who are seeking to fill higher management positions at corporations will not even consider candidates who have not earned an MBA.

A Brief History of the MBA

When the U.S. started to become more industrial from the mid-1800s through the 1900s, factory managers needed more orderly systems in order to oversee manufacturing processes. The world of automated machines was much different from the agricultural landscape that defined the U.S. prior to the 1900s. The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, founded in 1900, is acknowledged as the first school in the U.S. to focus on management. The master’s degree the school awarded when it first opened was called a master’s degree in commerce. Those first programs focused on more detailed studies of accounting and bookkeeping principles learned in undergraduate programs.

As an academic offering, the MBA degree spread to other countries like Canada, South Africa and Europe in the 1950s. With programs launching outside of the U.S., the programs inside the U.S. came under more scrutiny. Special commissioned reports labeled MBA programs in the U.S. second-rate, a stigma which forced U.S. programs to raise their standards. Program administrators felt the material needed to be more science based. Most programs shifted to emphasize academic research in the first year and a specialization in the second year. The first executive MBA program, which allowed full-time professionals and executives to continue to work while earning their degrees, was launched in 1943 at the University of Chicago.

Qualifying for an MBA Program

Each graduate program has its own requirements for acceptance into its MBA program. Almost all require the completion of an application, which usually calls on applicant to complete one or more essay questions. These essays become the backbone of applications because they reveal to admissions officers the nuances of what truly motivates applicants.

Typically, an admissions committee is looking for an applicant to show how prepared he is for the academic journey and how he can contribute to the current thriving academic community. Trying to write an essay that portrays an applicant as the stereotype he believes a program will likely accept is a mistake. Authenticity wins, in this case. Admissions wants an honest snapshot of all applicants.

The GMAT is another requirement for traditional MBA programs, and low scores could weaken an application. However, those who are entering an executive MBA program may not need to take the GMAT. There are some MBA programs, like the one at the Harvard Business School, that take either GMAT or GRE scores. MBA admissions also require letters of recommendation and an interview before official acceptance.

Why Choose an MBA

Aside from the increase in salary and the ability to pay off student loans much sooner, there are other tangible benefits for earning an MBA. Many candidates find their career paths opening so much wider after graduation. Not only does it give graduates a clear line of site to management positions in their chosen fields, but it allows the possibility of changing paths altogether. Someone who starts working as a project manager, for example, has the chance to become a vice president of operations after earning an MBA.

This degree also boosts credentials and makes the interview process for promotions much easier. The credentials of an MBA graduate are a more impressive introduction to an interviewer than a list of job duties on a resume. The MBA says that a candidate has learned widely accepted principles of management and has invested in his own career with a solid education.

One of the benefits of the MBA that is not always discussed is its currency for networking. There is a wide net of MBA graduates worldwide, and they help each other with job leads and other professional needs. Even when executives are working in other countries, MBA graduatess recognize what they have in common and use it as bonding ground.

The Power of the MBA Today

MBA programs across the country can boast of having some of the most employable graduates of any industry. Those who hold two-year MBAs have an impressive 95 percent employment rate. Though the trend for many seeking a master’s level business education is to pursue the one-year master’s level degree in a specialization, the traditional MBA still holds up against national economic and unemployment stress. Despite the many rumors of its death and decline, the MBA is still one of the strongest degrees to have in the working world. It uses the concepts of business to teach the experienced business mind how to creatively redesign the world.

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