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Types of MBA Programs


Getting your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a great way to advance your current career or break into a new one. MBA graduates see increases in salary, promotions and overall job satisfaction. In addition to pursuing traditional careers in business, MBA holders are sought out for their management skills by big industries such as health care, engineering and technology. Getting any business degree is hard work, but deciding to get your MBA is a big decision. If you have life or career needs, such as you need to stay on the job while you earn your MBA, there are different types of MBA programs that can make your quest a little easier.

Take a look at some of the types of MBA programs available for adult learners:

Full-Time MBA

The most widely available MBA program is the 2-year, full-time program. The Master of Science in Business Administration (MSBA), and Master of Science in Administration (MSIA) are equivalent degrees. The MSBA is designed for those who have some knowledge of management concepts, but who either don't have an undergraduate degree in business or don't have extensive work experience.

The first year of the full-time MBA program is dedicated to introducing the student to a core set of business fundamentals like accounting, marketing, operations and finance.

During the second year, students choose focus areas and/or take elective courses based on their specific interests. Students typically complete an internship in the summer between the first and second years.

Part-Time MBA

Part-time MBA programs typically hold classes during evenings or on evenings and weekends, and in most cases, attendance is limited to those who work full time during the day.

Sometimes it's further limited to those who already work in managerial positions, especially when the program requires the completion of fewer courses than the traditional, two-year MBA program.

In some cases part-time programs cover exactly the same material as the full-time programs; in other cases, particularly when the program is an abbreviated version of the traditional MBA, fewer core classes are offered, or there are limited opportunities to specialize. What is important to consider is that your part time MBA degree is earned through an accredited school's MBA program.

Part-time MBA programs usually take two to three years to complete but, in a few cases, may take five years or more. Because the majority of part-time students already hold jobs, internships are not usually part of the curriculum.

Accelerated MBA

Here's how accelerated programs differ from traditional MBA programs:

  • Accelerated MBA programs spend far less time covering the core business subjects traditionally taught in the first year of business school.
  • They also offer fewer opportunities for specialization and run on an intensive schedule. For this reason, attendance is generally restricted to those who have an advanced knowledge of the fundamentals of management, gained though some combination of undergraduate coursework and industry experience.

The accelerated MBA program is a good option for those who have ample business knowledge, but who aren't prepared for an executive-level MBA program, some of which require 10 or more years of experience. Because of the compressed schedule, internships are not typically part of the curriculum.

Evening and Weekend MBA

A variation on the part-time MBA, Evening/Weekend MBA programs may hold classes on both evenings and weekends, or there may be separate tracks for "evening" and "weekend" students.

Evening and weekend MBA programs cater to working professionals who are looking to advance in their current career or begin a new career at a management level. Because part-time MBA students generally only meet one or two evenings a week or on weekends, only a couple of courses are taken at a time.

Executive MBA

Executive MBA or EMBA programs typically admit only mid- to senior-level managers, and they are designed to build executive leadership skills. These programs are designed for high-achievers who are looking to enhance their education without disrupting their successful careers.

Classes for the Executive MBA program are often held on Friday and Saturday of every other week; on this alternating weekend schedule, programs usually take two years to complete.

The ideal aspirant for an EMBA is a professional who fits the following profile:

  • Has 10 to 14 years of experience, some of which is managerial
  • Has maintained a steady progress through the company in which they are employed
  • Is a candidate for senior management
  • Has an employer who is willing to invest in sponsoring the employee for an EMBA program

4 + 1 MBA

Combined BA / MBA degree programs, also called BS / MBA or 4+1 programs, allow students to substitute an undergraduate business degree for the first year of the traditional, two-year MBA curriculum.

After completing their undergraduate degree, students move directly into the MBA program and are able to complete it in one year. A combined BA / MBA degree program allows an undergraduate to complete a bachelor and master's degree program in five years.

Generally, students will apply to the program during their junior year and candidates are evaluated based upon their academic achievements. In most cases a GPA of 3.0 may be required to be considered and some schools require submission of your GMAT score and letters of recommendation from faculty or staff members. Additionally, you may be required to compose a statement of objective or participate in an internship in order to be accepted into the program.

All Types of MBA Programs Should Be Accredited

No matter which program fits your needs, make sure it's accredited! Accreditation ensures quality of program content and that your coursework has been vetted and approved by accreditation boards who monitor and make suggestions to improve programs. Some accreditation agencies in the U.S. (there are other international agencies) to look for include the following: