Are MBA Programs Hard?

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Pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be a decisive step toward a long, fulfilling career in business. MBA graduates may also be in a better position to compete for jobs and higher compensation.

Are MBA programs hard? It depends on each student’s willingness to learn and challenge himself or herself. Those who wish to reap the potential long-term career benefits should prepare for a rigorous yet highly rewarding experience.

MBA Program Admission Requirements

To qualify for most MBA programs, students must already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most colleges also have undergraduate GPA thresholds that students must meet. Students with higher GPAs generally have better chances of being admitted to selective programs.

Because MBA programs are designed to build upon a student’s existing business knowledge and skills, most programs require applicants to possess a few years of professional experience. Applicants have an average of about four years of work experience prior to enrolling in an MBA program, according to a survey by U.S. News & World Report. Strong work experience demonstrates to schools that applicants are already immersed in the business world and are serious about moving their careers to higher levels. Prospective students may also be required to furnish a resume, letters of recommendation, and a goal statement as part of the application process.

Some programs require prospective students to take the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT. This standardized test provides admissions offices with additional quantitative data demonstrating an applicant’s proficiency in select business-related core competencies. Since not every MBA program requires that applicants take the GMAT, it’s advisable for prospective students to check a university’s GMAT requirements prior to submitting an application.

Managing Program Costs

Enrolling in an MBA program can be expensive. In addition to tuition, students may have other expenses, such as books and fees. Those who enroll in full-time programs may also have to adjust or reduce their work hours to accommodate a full schedule of courses.

However, students can explore several options that can help mitigate some of these costs. Professionals can apply for part-time or online MBA programs that give them enough flexibility to pursue an advanced degree while working around their busy schedules. Students may also qualify for financial aid packages, and some companies offer stipends for employees who take MBA classes.

What Does a Course Curriculum Look Like?

MBA courses typically educate students about fundamental concepts that are critical for success in the business world. These courses often include assignments that are based on real-world situations, allowing students to apply their skills and knowledge in scenarios that are relevant beyond a typical classroom setting.

In addition to offering a general MBA curriculum, most schools offer specialized programs that allow students to focus on a particular business concentration. These specialized programs equip students with a deeper understanding of areas of business that they may want to work in professionally after graduation. In addition to helping students develop specialized skills, concentrations may also give them access to job opportunities within specific fields and industries, such as finance, health care, and accounting. Some MBA courses are designed for students who aspire to become entrepreneurs or venture capitalists. Others provide instruction in skills that are necessary for landing high-level corporate positions, such as executive manager, business analyst, operations and supply chain manager, and strategic selling and sales lead.

The Benefits of Earning an MBA

A key benefit of earning an MBA is the potential to increase earning power. In a 2017 report by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), nearly three in five employers reported that they planned to increase starting salaries for MBA degree holders. However, a higher salary is not the only benefit to earning the degree.

For instance, earning an MBA can provide students with a stronger foundation of hard and soft business skills that they can apply across a wide swath of professional roles. These skills, such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, and IT comprehension, can make it easier to climb the corporate ladder.

Another benefit of earning an MBA begins in the classroom setting, where students work alongside other motivated, business-minded professionals. This type of environment is often rich with promising networking opportunities, enabling students to form connections that can help them secure jobs in the future.

Having an MBA can also improve job security in a time when corporate downsizing is a concern in many industries. Because companies’ reputations benefit from having rosters stocked with MBA grads, these employees may be more insulated when layoffs are necessary.

Worth the Effort

It’s rare that something worth pursuing comes easily, and earning an MBA is no exception. While students must invest time and effort to complete this advanced program, their hard work could result in better career opportunities and greater long-term earning potential.

Learn More

Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Online MBA” program, Ohio University’s online MBA degree program takes advantage of the latest in classroom technology to bring students an engaging and academically rigorous experience that can benefit them in their careers.

With concentrations in finance, health care, executive management, and business analytics, the program offers graduates the business background and team experience they will need to be successful leaders of innovation and business endeavors.

Recommended Reading:

The Benefits of an MBA in Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship

Benefits of Tailoring Your Degree to Fit Your Career Needs and Goals

Master of Accountancy vs. MBA with an Accounting Concentration



Forbes, “Is an MBA Just a Gateway Drug? Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs of an MBA?”

Harvard Business Review, “Should You Get an MBA?”

Investopedia, Master of Business Administration — MBA

Investopedia, MBA Programs Admissions

Investopedia, “The Real Cost of an MBA”

Investopedia, “When Is an MBA Worth It?”

Ohio University, Online Master of Business Administration

The Princeton Review, “What Is the GMAT?”

U.S. News and World Report, “4 Key Career Benefits from MBA Programs”