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Some Misconceptions About the MBA Degree

Some Misconceptions About the MBA Degree

Of all graduate degrees offered by institutions of higher learning, the MBA is probably the most popular. An examination of some of the questions about the MBA degree on the popular site Yahoo Answers ( reveals that there are many misconceptions about the degree. Here are some of the most common ones.

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Myth: One must have an undergraduate degree in business to enroll in an MBA program.

Fact: The MBA degree was originally developed in response to needs created when engineers and scientists were promoted into management positions and found that being skilled in one field or background does not make one skilled in management. Universities responded by creating the MBA degree. Although about 40 percent of MBA students have undergraduate business degrees, the preference is for other undergraduate fields because good managers need a broad background beyond just business education. Majors in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences are best but all other majors are acceptable. I have taught MBA students with backgrounds in history, music, languages, medicine, law, dentistry, psychology, and many others.

Myth: MBA programs only accept students with considerable work experience.

Myth: It is best to get the MBA degree immediately after the undergraduate degree.
Fact: MBA programs prefer students with 2-4 years work experience after the first degree. Although most programs boast that they require students with work experience, many accept students right out of college if they have good grades and a high GMAT score. Some MBA programs are designed specifically for new college graduates without work experience. But in those programs, you don't get the benefit of learning from other students who have work experience. A lot of valuable learning takes place through class interaction. Also when you graduate, your job offers will be about the same as a business undergraduate gets because you have no work experience, and you've been two years out of your undergraduate field so it's hard to get work in that area.

Myth: The MBA degree is available in a variety of academic fields.

Fact: It is common to see questions such as "Which schools offer the MBA in pharmacy?" or "I want to get an MBA in aviation management." or an MBA in finance, marketing, accounting, or human resource management. There is no such degree. Universities don't grant MBA in information systems, or MBA in finance. They grant the degree Master in Business Administration, or they offer the MS in finance, MS in marketing, etc. The MBA is a general degree preparing students for management positions at any level of a business, up to CEO. MBA students study accounting, finance, marketing, management, statistics, economics, strategy, policy, and other courses. Many MBA programs offer concentrations in these and many other fields, but that amounts to only 2-3 courses in your chosen field in the second year of study. Many students avoid a concentration and take a variety of elective subjects to gain a broader background. You don't become a specialist in a field with 2-3 courses. It generally takes a year of concentrated study which is attained with the degree Master of Science in finance, pharmacy, mechanical engineering, or other specialization.

Myth: The MBA degree is worth the cost and effort only if it is earned from a top-tier school.

Fact: The top-tier MBA programs receive many more applicants than they can admit, and may reject 90 percent or more of highly qualified applicants. It is true that graduates from the top-tier schools get the highest salary offers upon graduations. But many other very good MBA programs provide a valuable degree with great financial benefits. The average salaries in some of the most lucrative undergraduate fields (business, accounting, paralegal, and nursing) range from about $41,000 to about $53,000. On the other hand, MBA graduates in 2010 earned a median salary of about $79,000 not including a $13,000 median sign-up bonus. Moreover, career advancement with an MBA degree tends to be much faster than with only a bachelors degree.

Prospective MBA students searching for MBA programs to which they can apply should consult the Official MBA Guide before deciding on a program. With more than 2,000 MBA programs listed worldwide, the Official MBA Guide is the most comprehensive database of program information. It is a free public service and features a search engine that enables candidates to specify their preferences and criteria to obtain a ranked list of MBA programs that satisfy their needs

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