What Is an MBA Program?

man sitting on couch with laptop, textbook, and notebook on coffee table as he takes notes

A master’s in business administration, perhaps more widely known by its abbreviation “MBA,” is a desirable graduate degree intended to advance a student’s skills and knowledge — and therefore advance their career. If earning an MBA is one of your personal and professional goals, you’ve already taken the first step by asking, “What is an MBA program?” Let’s find some answers for you!

What is a Master’s in Business Administration Program?: An Overview

To begin, we’ll start with the basics: an academic program is a course of study: a defined set of requirements for earning a degree or certificate or even declaring a major, minor, or concentration. An MBA program is simply a specific type of academic program.

An MBA program is comprised of a coordinated series of core and elective graduate-level classes intended to lead toward a master’s in business administration. An MBA program also encompasses its admissions requirements, desired learning outcomes, and all other associated policies and activities. While graduate requirements and outcomes vary from school to school, a good online MBA program from an accredited college or university will typically have the same requirements and rigor as its on-campus equivalent.

From an administrative perspective, an MBA program is typically housed in a college or university’s school of business, and it’s usually overseen by a program director, department chair, or sometimes a dean. For example, National University’s MBA program is located within its School of Business and Management. Dr. Farhang Mossavar-Rahmani, a professor of finance, serves as director of the MBA program at National. He says courses are usually taught by a mix of business scholars and working professionals.

Mossavar-Rahmani believes that having experienced, working professionals on the faculty brings great value to an MBA program. “They’re teaching the same things they are doing in the field,” he says. “They are knowledgeable, professional, and updated in their industries.”

Undeniably, an important part of an MBA program is its people, including the assets and varied expertise that faculty, staff, and students can bring to the educational experience.

What is an MBA Program Like? What Can I Expect?

In an MBA program, students can expect to learn a mix of business knowledge and practical applications; Mossavar-Rahmani says this combination is crucial to help professionals “be more effective in their decision-making.” Core and introductory classes may consist of accounting, finance, marketing, and management basics, while electives allow students to either officially work toward a concentration or simply take courses that match their interests. Often, an MBA program culminates with a capstone project or paper.

In the classroom — whether it is virtual or on-campus —  you’ll find a master’s in business administration program brings together a wide variety of students. Some may be fresh from undergraduate school, and others may have worked in a career for years. Some lead companies, and some own companies. Mossavar-Rahmani says his students hail from around the globe. With classmates of all ages, backgrounds, and work experience, students also learn from each other.

Can You Earn an MBA Through an Online Degree Program?

After working on the job for a while, many established professionals seek an MBA in order to advance in their careers, whether for higher earning potential, increased responsibility, or both. Since large segments of people attracted to this credential are already employed, an MBA program is a natural choice for schools to add to their line-up of online degrees.

Online MBA programs, such as the one offered by National University, allow adult learners to complete assignments and engage with professors and classmates on their own time. This convenience and flexibility makes a 100 percent online MBA program extremely appealing. However, schools like National often offer a hybrid option, ideal for students who enjoy in-person classes but can’t always fit them into their schedule.

What is an MBA Program’s Typical Length?

When it comes to MBA programs designed for adult learners, especially those offering online degrees, students often find value in setting their own milestones and timelines. MBA degree programs vary in length; factors may include type of school, type of program, and a student’s previous education or work experience. A more traditional full-time, semester-based graduate program generally takes two years to complete. Those designed for adult learners, such as National University’s on-campus and online MBA programs, are often based on an accelerated model and have built-in flexibility; this means it might only take 12 to 18 months to complete.

The amount of time it takes to earn an MBA may also depend on a student’s previous education, relevant work experience, or professional certifications, all of which may allow for a transfer of academic credits or lifetime learning credits. Finally, many adult students choose to take MBA classes on a part-time basis with breaks in between, which extends the overall time to complete the program. On the flip side, the online format and scheduling flexibility do allow ambitious students to speed up the completion time.

What Is the Average MBA Salary?

According to ZipRecruiter, using estimates from both employer job postings and third-party data sources, the average salary of an employee with a Master’s in Business Administration is $75,455, as of 2022. With the states of Washington and New York leading the way with an average MBA salary of over $90,000 a year.

Learn More About Our University and Scholarships

Join our email list!

Recent Resources

Your passion. Our Programs.

Choose an Area of Study

Your passion. Our Programs.

Select a degree level

View Programs