The 5 most important FAQs about an MBA

CAREER ADVICE   |   5 minutes  |   January 31, 2017

Each year, over 800,000 prospective students apply for MBA acceptance into one of 4,000 MBA programmes, on offer from more than 450 institutes globally.¹

The competition to gain acceptance into this, most popular Master’s programme is fierce. Aspiring MBA students are increasingly turning to preparatory and bridging courses to round out their applications, or alternatives to a full MBA programme.

The University of Stellenbosch Business School – Executive Development, in collaboration with GetSmarter, now offers an MBA Essentials online short course to fulfill that demand. The 16-week online short course helps prospective MBA students prepare for the full MBA programme, and simultaneously provides a cheaper and shorter alternative to the MBA – allowing working professionals to master technical business skills in economics, quantitative analysis and managerial accounting.

More recently, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) developed the MBA Essentials online certificate course in collaboration with GetSmarter. This online MBA programme focuses on equipping students with the necessary hard and soft skills to achieve success as a leader in the contemporary business environment. It focuses on the financial and strategic skills imperative to business management but also looks at how influence can be expanded in an organisation to drive home new strategies.

How could an institute offer an online MBA preparatory course, without answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the MBA? We’ll take a look at some of the following questions:

  • What does MBA stand for?
  • What is an MBA?
  • What are the MBA requirements?
  • Why study an MBA?
  • What are MBA rankings?

And for the benefit of this article:

  • What is MBA Essentials?
  • Why study MBA Essentials?
  • What are the MBA Essentials requirements?


What does MBA stand for?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration.

What is an MBA?

The MBA is an internationally recognised graduate degree in business administration, or business management.

Whilst most Master’s-level qualifications offer deep, specialised learning into a single topic or subject matter, the MBA grants students a wide array of managerial skills with which to succeed in business and business management.

Each MBA programme differs from the next – sometimes slightly and sometimes less so – and students select the MBA programme for them based on these differences (amongst other variables). However, typical subjects on an MBA usually include some form of:

What are the MBA requirements?

The entry requirements for an MBA programme differ from one institution to the next, but usually include a certain level of education combined with a minimum amount of work experience, in addition to achieving desirable results in aptitude and/or placement tests (such as the GMAT or programme-specific entrance exams).

Whilst test scores are unchanging for programme acceptance, the work experience required can vary with education level. As an example, an individual with a postgraduate degree may not require as much working experience as someone with a bachelor’s degree.

However, meeting the minimum requirements may not always be sufficient to gain entry into the MBA programme of your choice. As demand grows and competition increases, applicants need to stand out from the crowd any way they can.

Why study an MBA?

1. Career development

Having an MBA indicates to prospective employers and your current managers that you have the skills to effectively manage all aspects of a business. As with any degree, it also indicates that you are willing and able to learn – highlighting your ability for growth.

Many students also use the MBA as an opportunity to change career paths. A plethora of engineers, project managers and IT professionals use the MBA to break into the finance and investment industries, as one example.

2. Networking opportunities

In addition to career development, the MBA degree helps expand your professional network.

It’s one of the biggest draw cards that elite schools offer. Why wouldn’t you want to gain valuable business skills, develop your career and simultaneously rub shoulders with future business leaders?

57 per cent of 2015 MBA programme graduates cited networking with classmates as one of their most commonly used job-seeking techniques.² This gives testament to the fact that networking abilities go hand-in-hand with career development.

3. Salary increases

A median salary increase of 90 per cent was reported globally by 2015 graduates of MBA programmes, according to a survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) – owners of the GMAT test.²

“MBA salary” is one of the most Googled MBA terms every month.
The MBA is an expensive and a highly demanding commitment, yet it continues to gain in popularity. “Why?” you ask? The return on investment for an MBA is incredible. It pays for itself within several years, whereafter the career opportunities afforded to graduates far outweigh the costs.

What are MBA rankings?

Each year, institutions, business publications and educational blogs rank business schools globally and by region, based on a variety of factors, such as employability scores and academic reputation (based on the faculty and quality and quantity of academic research).

Whilst these often differ from one MBA ranking source to another, they offer potential MBA applicants the opportunity to gauge the quality of institution against price and course content – helping them make the right choice for their MBA studies.


What is MBA Essentials?

The MBA Essentials is a 16-week online short course designed to help students prepare for an MBA programme and to arm working professionals with some of the technical business skills gained in an MBA – with which to advance their careers.

The course is offered by the University of Stellenbosch Business School – Executive Development (USB-ED) and is presented in partnership with GetSmarter.

The MBA Essentials allows prospective MBA applicants to gauge their appetite for the demanding Master’s programme and gives them a head start in some of the more challenging subjects of an MBA programme, should they choose to pursue it.

This online short course gives you a solid foundation for your future (both professional and academic) by equipping you with theoretical and practical knowledge in three vital business skills: economics, quantitative methods and accounting.

Why study MBA Essentials?

If you’re preparing for an MBA:

The MBA Essentials does not negate any of the entry requirements for an MBA, but does strengthen your application – helping you stand out from the crowd of MBA applicants.

Accounting, economics and statistics-based courses are often found to be the most challenging subjects of an MBA. By studying them beforehand, students will be able to better manage these subjects during a full MBA degree, allowing them to focus more on their soft business skills.

For career advancement opportunities:

For those not considering an MBA programme, or unable to partake in an MBA, the MBA Essentials is an opportunity to gain some of the more technical business skills acquired from an MBA.

If you’re aiming for a promotion, have recently been promoted, want to become more marketable, or wish to manage your own company better, the MBA Essentials arms you with the managerial business skills to do so.

You’ll learn from industry experts, using a practical, case study approach, and will have the opportunity to use your own business as a case study on the course.

Build your professional network:

The MBA Essentials offers networking opportunities, just as the MBA does. Although the course is presented entirely online, GetSmarter’s people first learning model allows for constant interaction and collaboration with your peers on the course, success manager and head tutor.

In gaining hard, technical business skills, you’ll also have the opportunity to practice your soft skills through these interactions.

Earn a certificate from Stellenbosch University:

Upon completion of the course, you’ll earn a certificate from a top-tier university, as verifiable proof of the skills and knowledge you’ll gain. Course completion also grants students 20 short course credits, applicable in the domain of USB-ED.

What are the MBA Essentials requirements?

The MBA Essentials does not have any entry requirements.

However, students do require secondary school level (high school) mathematics knowledge and need to be familiar with Microsoft Excel if they wish to excel in the course.


With so many good reasons to enrol in an MBA, yet so much competition for MBA placement, both these MBA Essentials offer students a way to stand out from the crowd of applicants. For those not yet able to study an MBA, the courses offer the technical business skills with which to grow in their career, earn more and expand their professional network.

Want to gain technical MBA skills without studying a full-time MBA?

Find out more about these MBA Essentials online courses from world-leading business schools.