A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree for professionals who seek to acquire an advanced level of business knowledge. Earning an MBA may support the achievement of many different career aspirations, including pursuing a senior leadership position, transitioning to a career in a different field or industry, or improving performance in an existing role. Regardless of the end goal, an MBA is designed to provide a well-rounded understanding of business, with insights and skills across core business areas.
The curriculum included in an MBA typically spans many key aspects of business operations. Fundamental business aspects include those involving accounting, finance, marketing, and human resources. Below is a breakdown of core MBA topics that constitute the usual MBA program, along with a synopsis of what students can expect to learn, and how this education may support them in their career.
Data Analytics – A 2018 survey of 207 global executives conducted by Forbes Insights and Cisco revealed some telling information regarding the role of data analytics in today’s business climate. More than half of polled executives indicated that analytics are a critical resource for maintaining growth and market share. Leveraging the power of data analytics is essential — especially in a world of increasing business globalization and digital transformation — because leaders need the most accurate, detailed, and timely information to make effective decisions.
Data analysis courses within an MBA program explore how to examine data using commonly used software, how to manage the data, and how to interpret the results to the greatest effect. Students may apply the skills and knowledge gained in this course to deliver real-world results, such as reviewing historical data to identify new business prospects or opportunities to reduce costs, or using current data to forecast upcoming issues and create operational efficiencies.
Human Resource Management – An MBA program exposes students to skills that are likely to help them take on leadership and senior business positions. A significant aspect of these roles involves managing an organization’s most important asset: its employees. MBA coursework is structured to ensure graduates have exposure to the processes and standard practices used in behavioral management and to motivate employees. This includes methods to ensure employee alignment with the overall culture, mission, and success strategy of a business. Another facet of MBA-focused human resources training covers how leaders manage change in an organization and generate buy-in from employees. This is important in a global business landscape that is marked by consistent market and economic fluctuations.
Supply Chain Management – Supply chain management is critical to an organization’s success and is fundamental to many business operations. Courses on this topic cover effective practices that contribute to production that prevents product shortages or oversupply, enhanced customer satisfaction through proper product availability, and financial stability through consistent organizational performance.
MBA courses in supply chain management may also touch on other business departments and operations as well. For instance, strategic marketing relies heavily on supply chain management data that relates to product demand, customer feedback, and service delivery and management. Another area that is influenced by supply chain management is organizational risk. Unplanned operational events relating to logistics, outsourcing, natural disasters, or other unforeseen challenges would all require immediate response for the management of the supply chain.
Accounting and Finance – Depending on a student’s career path, an MBA can be used to further develop expertise in the areas of accounting or finance, or to simply provide a foundational knowledge around these numbers-based skill sets. A general introduction to finance typically includes a study of essential financial reporting principles and accounting concepts. The coursework is designed to enable participants to understand and directly contribute to these core functions within a business setting.
An MBA student may choose to delve deeper into accounting or finance by choosing a finance concentration. This focus may include course options that cover portfolio management and investing, as well as concepts relating to financial markets and institutions. An accounting concentration may also include advanced accounting principles such as taxation, auditing, and managerial accounting.
Strategic Leadership – A strategic leadership course is more likely to be taken near the end of an MBA program, as the primary assignment asks students to formulate a business strategy at an executive level, using what they’ve learned in their previous coursework. At this stage in an MBA program, students will have been exposed to a breadth of business knowledge required to take on this challenge. Through this process, they will apply and practice their skills in strategic thinking, demonstrating the ability to:
- Interpret contradictory complex data and make confident decisions
- Critically assess the big picture and challenge what’s currently in place to solve business issues
In addition to these core MBA topics, programs such as the Ohio University online MBA also include a range of elective concentration options from which to choose. These electives can help students fine-tune their course selection to align with their career interests. For example, concentration areas specific to the Ohio University program include:
- Health Care
- Executive Management
- Business Analytics
- Operation and Supply Chain Management
- Strategic Selling and Sales Leadership
- Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship
With a diverse curriculum, an MBA is an academic investment that delivers a toolkit of business knowledge and skills that are in-demand by employers and marketable across various career paths. An MBA degree is intended to provide graduates with a competitive advantage over their peers, and the professional competency to grow, change, and thrive in their careers.
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.