Nov 25, 2021

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8 Essential Facts About an MBA

Are you interested in pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree? As an internationally recognized degree, focused on business and management knowledge, an MBA provides transferable, critical skills for any company.1

As for what you can do with an MBA, its value isn’t strictly limited to the business world. An MBA can be useful if you’re working toward a managerial career in the public sector, government, or private industry. Common positions sought with an MBA include accountant, commercial banker, marketing manager, business operations manager, chief executive officer, human resources manager, financial officer, and operations analyst.2

Harvard Business School was the first institution to offer an MBA degree, responding to demand from businesses around the United States.3

But Harvard wasn’t the world’s first business school. This was the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP), founded in 1819 – making it the oldest establishment dedicated to business and finance teaching in the world. Today, the school is still in existence and offers a full-time MBA in International Management and a part-time Executive MBA. Last year it placed eighth in the Financial Times’ European Business Schools 2020 rankings.

Here are eight essential facts worth knowing about an MBA:

1. The demand for MBA graduates is at an all-time high

Completing an MBA degree increases your career prospects. Among recruiters, 92 percent expect demand for MBA graduates to increase or remain stable over the next five years. The greatest rise in optimism is in Europe, where 54 percent of recruiters anticipate an increase in demand for employees with MBAs in 2021, compared with 36 percent in 2020.4

Demand varies across different industries. Those wishing to pursue a business management career in the aviation or tourism industries, for example, should bear in mind that these have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the technology, pharmaceutical, and data analysis sectors have seen new opportunities arise for MBA graduates.5

2. The different MBA formats

Several business schools are adapting or considering an adaptation of their curriculums to meet changing market demands. Although there’s a huge range of programs from which to choose, MBAs generally fall into seven main categories:6

Full-time MBA

These programs typically last two years. They tend to attract high-quality applicants and are well suited to those considering a major career change. Unsurprisingly, networking with other top-level professionals is a significant component of a full-time MBA.

Part-time MBA (in person or online)

Appealing to career climbers more than career changers, the part-time MBA offers greater flexibility, with students able to vary their course load each term. In-person students attend lectures at night and on weekends, while online students complete coursework remotely and attend classes through video conferencing.

Executive MBA

With in-person classes usually held twice a month (or online, potentially more regularly), this MBA option is of interest to professionals with more than 10 years’ experience who are keen to increase their managerial knowledge.

Specialized MBA

An increasing number of graduate business schools offer specialized MBA programs that impart deep management expertise in a specific industry. Management, accounting, finance, and data analytics all experienced significant growth in specialized MBA applications from 2019 to 2020.7

Global MBA

A global MBA is aimed at those wishing to work in an overseas office or for a multinational company. This MBA is usually offered as a full-time course that examines how functional business areas are experienced in different institutional contexts.

Accelerated MBA

For those with less time or who don’t wish to take a career break, an accelerated MBA condenses studies into a one-year program. Costs are also likely to be lower.

MBA dual and joint degrees

These degrees vary in structure, requirements, and length, but generally enable students to study business alongside a second degree, with separate coursework. Typically, some course credits can be applied to both degrees. Dual and joint degrees are a good choice for those whose interests or career meet at the intersection between business and other fields.

3. Hard skills vs soft skills taught during an MBA

An MBA program teaches hard skills – the relevant practical knowledge that enables you to work in a specific field. These are, of course, a prerequisite for most jobs, but they’re inherently teachable.

On the other hand, soft skills relate to interpersonal relationships, leadership, project management, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork. These are acquired through work experience, and trial and error.

While the necessary hard skills are a prerequisite for working in a particular field, MBA employers rate soft skills more important than hard ones. The 10 top-rated skills are:

  • Communication skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Management skills
  • Leadership skills

It should be noted, however, that hard skills rate closely behind these soft skills, with data, information technology, and finance skills all rating highly.8

4. The average age of MBA students

The average age of MBA students appears to be increasing. In 2020, the percentage of applicants for two-year, full-time MBAs who had six to 10 years’ experience was 32 – almost double that of 2019, and significantly higher than ever before. The stats for full-time, one-year MBAs were 31 percent (up from 22 percent in 2019) and 23 percent (up from 12 percent), respectively.

Flexible, online, and part-time MBAs have proven to be a popular option for young professionals with less work experience.9

5. What salary can you expect to earn with an MBA?

An MBA is a costly investment in terms of time and money, but it can yield significant rewards. While pursuing such a program provides no guarantee of a higher starting salary, candidates who invest wholeheartedly in their studies and the associated networking opportunities will glean crucial workforce skills.10

Although the median salary for MBA graduates declined to $105,000 three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s expected to recover to its pre-pandemic level of $115,000. This median salary is 77 percent higher than for employees with a bachelor’s degree and 43 percent higher than for those hired directly from industry.11

6. MBA networking opportunities

One of the biggest attractions of an MBA program is the networking opportunities it provides. Many MBAs emphasize group work, connecting participants with other students from a range of different backgrounds. MBA alumni are often also willing to advise participants, as having completed such a course themselves, they’re likely to understand the value of networking.

7. Online MBA trends

While standard full-time, two-year MBAs experienced almost no growth in 2019–2020, online MBAs saw 43.5 percent growth.12 In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this isn’t surprising. Interestingly, online courses are particularly attractive to older applicants who want to continue working while furthering their career prospects.13

8. What can you do with an MBA?

What you ultimately achieve with an MBA is entirely up to you, but it’s clear: management skills are globally recognized and in demand. Applicants from varying industries and backgrounds enroll in these courses for many reasons. Usually, however, it’s to increase their chances of career advancement, prepare for a career shift, or improve their skills in their present leadership position. Most C-suite leaders are MBA graduates.

If you’re still deciding if the full degree is right for you, or would like to acquire MBA skills for your professional development, why not enroll in an MBA online short course? The MBA Essentials online certificate course from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) trains you to see the business world differently. In 10 weeks, you’ll develop a toolkit of key strategic, leadership, and financial skills – helping you to succeed in the modern business world.

  • 1 (Nd). ‘What is an MBA?’. Retrieved from Find MBA. Accessed October 21, 2021.
  • 2 Whited, J. (Oct, 2021). ‘What can you do with an MBA? (Plus tips and steps)’. Retrieved from Indeed.
  • 3 Garner, B. (Jul, 2021). ‘What is the history of the MBA?’. Retrieved from
  • 4 Choudaha, R., et al. (June, 2021). ‘Demand of graduate management talent: 2021 hiring projections and salary trends – corporate recruiters survey June 2021’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 5 Symonds, M. (Jun, 2020). ‘The unexpected resilience of the MBA jobs market’. Retrieved from Forbes.
  • 6 Friedman, J. (Apr, 2021). ‘7 types of MBA programs – and how to choose the right one for you’. Retrieved from Fortune.
  • 7 Choudaha, R., et al. (Nov, 2020). ‘The global demand for graduate management education – application trends survey 2020’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 8 Chisholm, A. (Feb, 2021). ‘Employers name the skills they seek in MBA graduates’. Retrieved from
  • 9 Choudaha, R., et al. (Nov, 2020). ‘The global demand for graduate management education – application trends survey 2020’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 10 Driscoll, K. (Apr, 2021). ‘Will your online MBA result in a higher salary?’. Retrieved from Fortune.
  • 11 Choudaha, R., et al. (June, 2021). ‘Demand of graduate management talent: 2021 hiring projections and salary trends – corporate recruiters survey June 2021’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 12 Choudaha, R., et al. (Nov, 2020). ‘The global demand for graduate management education – application trends survey 2020’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 13 Moules, J. (Mar, 2021). ‘Pandemic accelerates growth in online MBAs’. Retrieved from Financial Times.