How to Get an MBA

Everything you need to know about how to get an MBA, from understanding the basics of the program to the financing options available.
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Are you considering pursuing an MBA degree? Earning your MBA is a wise decision that can prepare you for a lucrative career in the business world. But before you apply, you should make sure that getting an MBA is the right choice for you. To help you make an informed decision, we’ll give you everything you need to know about how to get an MBA, from understanding the basics of the program to the financing options available.

Understanding the Basics of an MBA

What is an MBA?

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a postgraduate degree program that focuses on improving a student’s leadership, managerial, and strategic thinking skills. These degrees typically cover a wide range of business-related subjects such as finance, marketing, operations, and accounting.

Graduating with an MBA often leads to career advancement, increased earning potential, and greater job stability. Many top business schools around the globe offer MBA programs, providing various options to choose from when considering higher education.

Why Pursue an MBA Degree?

There are several reasons why individuals may choose to pursue an MBA degree, including:

  • Career advancement: Many companies seek candidates with an MBA for high-level managerial and executive roles. Earning an MBA can help improve your career path and help you move up the corporate ladder.
  • Increased earning potential: MBA graduates typically earn more than graduates with other advanced degrees, including other business master’s programs.
  • Entrepreneurship opportunities: An MBA equips students with the skills they need to start, manage, and grow their own businesses. Gaining these practical skills can improve your chances of entrepreneurial success.
  • Networking: Students attending MBA programs can network with peers, faculty, alumni, and potential employers. These connections can prove invaluable in both personal and professional life.

Before deciding to pursue an MBA, it’s important to consider the time, cost, and long-term benefits of the degree. Depending on the program, earning an MBA can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years, with tuition and fees reaching up to six figures. Weighing the potential return on investment is crucial when making this decision.

Types of MBA Programs

There are several different types of MBA programs to cater to the diverse needs, interests, and schedules of prospective students. Here are four common types of MBA programs:

  • Full-time MBA: A full-time MBA program typically lasts for two years, with students attending classes during the day. Students spend most of their time studying, making it difficult to work while completing the program.
  • Part-time MBA: A part-time MBA is designed for students who work, with courses offered in the evenings, weekends, or online. This flexible format allows students to balance their work and personal commitments while completing their degrees. Part-time MBA programs may take up to three years to complete.
  • Executive MBA (EMBA): An Executive MBA is designed for experienced working professionals with considerable work experience, usually around 10-15 years. The program offers a condensed, rigorous curriculum, allowing students to obtain their degrees in 1 to 2 years, while maintaining their job responsibilities.
  • Online MBA: As the name suggests, online MBA programs are delivered entirely or primarily via the internet, enabling students to complete the program from anywhere in the world. These programs are designed for students seeking flexibility and are often well-suited for busy professionals and those with personal commitments.

When selecting the right MBA program, consider factors such as your career goals, work-life balance, academic interests, and learning style.

Preparing for the MBA Journey

Assessing Your Goals and Motivations

It’s essential to assess your goals and motivations before embarking on the MBA journey to ensure that the degree aligns with your aspirations. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my career goals?
  • Will an MBA help me achieve these goals?
  • How will an MBA improve my professional advancement prospects?
  • Can I make the necessary sacrifices, including time and finances, to complete an MBA program?
  • What type of MBA program is best suited to my needs and preferences?

These questions will help you clarify your reasons for pursuing an MBA and ensure that you select the most appropriate program to achieve your objectives.

Researching MBA Programs and Schools

Once you’ve identified your goals and motivations, it’s essential to research the various MBA programs and schools available. Important things to keep in mind when choosing a program include:

  • Reputation and rankings of the business school
  • Tuition and total costs
  • Program duration and format
  • Curriculum and concentrations offered
  • Campus culture and student life
  • Career services and job placement rates
  • Geographical location and proximity to job opportunities

Attending MBA fairs, speaking to admissions officers, discussing program options with current students and alumni, and taking campus tours can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision about where to apply.

Building a Strong Resume and Profile

To be a competitive MBA applicant, you’ll need to present a strong resume and profile to admissions committees. Here are some tips for developing a stand-out resume:

  • Highlight your professional accomplishments and quantify your contributions whenever possible (e.g., increased sales by 25%, reduced overhead costs by 15%).
  • Showcase your leadership skills by describing examples of when you led a team, initiated a project, or influenced decision-making.
  • Include extracurricular activities that show your dedication to the community or other interests.
  • Emphasize your technical skills and any certifications you have earned.
  • Prepare for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and achieve competitive scores; many MBA programs require these exams as part of the application process.

You will also need to obtain professional recommendations, write a compelling personal statement, and prepare for admissions interviews. Exceptional applications highlight a candidate’s strengths, accomplishments, and unique qualities, setting them apart from the competition.

The MBA Application Process

The MBA application process can seem like a challenging endeavor for aspiring business leaders. After all, it requires meticulous planning, significant financial investment, and a great deal of time and effort. But with some basic preparation and understanding, the MBA application process can be straightforward and seamless. Here’s what you should expect in the MBA application process:

Preparing for Standardized Tests (GMAT or GRE)

One of the first steps in the MBA application process is to prepare for and take a standardized test, either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). These tests are designed to measure your aptitude for graduate business school and play an essential role in the admissions process. Most top-ranked MBA programs accept both GMAT and GRE scores.

Writing Effective Essays and Personal Statements

Essays and personal statements are another critical component of the MBA application process. Business schools want to get to know you beyond your test scores and transcripts. When writing your essays and personal statements, it’s crucial to be authentic, concise, and engaging. Focus on making a strong first impression, answering the prompt or question thoroughly, and providing specific, relevant examples to support your points.

Securing Strong Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are another vital aspect of your MBA application, as they provide personal and professional endorsements from people familiar with your work ethic, abilities, and growth potential. To secure strong letters of recommendation, follow these best practices:

  • Choose recommenders who know you well, personally and professionally, and can speak highly of your capabilities and character.
  • Give your recommenders enough time to write your letters (ideally, 4-6 weeks).
  • Clearly communicate your career aspirations and motivations for pursuing an MBA to help them tailor their letter to your specific goals.
  • Provide your recommenders with your resume and a summary of your accomplishments to make it easy for them to highlight your strengths.
  • Be sure to send a thank-you note after they have submitted their recommendation.

Financing Your MBA Degree

Funding an MBA degree can be a significant financial undertaking. However, by carefully exploring different financing options, you can reduce the burden and maximize the return on your investment in terms of both career growth and financial outcomes.

Exploring Scholarships and Financial Aid Options

Scholarships and financial aid options are a great way to help offset the cost of your MBA degree. Many business schools and external organizations offer merit-based and need-based scholarships for qualified applicants. Research available scholarships and their eligibility criteria, and apply to as many as possible to improve your chances of receiving financial assistance. Some resources for scholarship information include the business school’s financial aid office, online scholarship databases, and various professional industry organizations.

Considering Loans and Personal Savings

Taking out loans and drawing from personal savings are other ways to finance your MBA degree. Federal and private student loans are available to borrowers who meet specific eligibility criteria. When considering loans, be sure to research the interest rates, repayment terms, and grace periods so that you can make informed decisions.

If you have personal savings, it’s crucial to evaluate your current financial situation and the potential short-term and long-term impact of depleting your savings to fund your MBA. Work out a budget to strike a balance between utilizing your savings and taking on debt.

Evaluating Return on Investment (ROI)

When financing your MBA degree, it’s essential to evaluate the return on investment in terms of career advancement, increased earning potential, and personal growth. Will the degree help you achieve your desired career goals? Would the financial investment result in a measurable increase in your salary or job opportunities? Take time to research and compare MBA programs, post-MBA employment statistics, and alumni success stories to make an informed decision about the value of your degree.

Making the Most of Your MBA Experience

An MBA is a significant investment in time, money, and effort. To make the most of this opportunity, it’s crucial to embrace all aspects of the experience, both inside and outside the classroom.

  • Networking and Building Relationships: One key aspect of making the most of your MBA experience is networking and building professional relationships. The connections you make during your MBA will be an invaluable asset throughout your career. To get started, consider the following:
  • Participate in MBA events: MBA programs often host events for students, alumni, and professionals. Attend these events to make new connections and learn from successful business leaders.
  • Join clubs or associations: Engage with your fellow MBA students by joining clubs or professional associations related to your interests or career goals. These organizations offer unique networking opportunities and can help expand your expertise within specific industries.
  • Connect with alumni: Alumni can provide valuable guidance, mentoring, and even job leads throughout your career. Keep in touch with former classmates and foster relationships with experienced alumni in your field.
  • Leverage social media: Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with fellow students, alumni, and professionals in your industry. Share your expertise, engage in conversations, and stay updated with industry trends.

Pursuing Internships and Practical Experience

Hands-on experience plays a significant role in maximizing your MBA journey. Obtaining an internship or part-time role during your studies can provide numerous benefits, such as:

  • Applying classroom learning: Internships offer an excellent opportunity to practice the skills and theories you learn in class. Gaining real-world experience enables you to refine your expertise and enhance your problem-solving abilities.
  • Exploring career options: Internships allow you to experiment with various roles and industries, helping you identify your strengths and preferences. By understanding your career ambitions, you can more effectively tailor your MBA experience to suit your goals.
  • Building your resume: Internships demonstrate your commitment to professional growth and provide concrete examples of your achievements. An impressive resume can increase your chances of securing job offers upon graduation.
  • Developing professional connections: Internships can help you establish relationships within your desired industry. These connections can prove beneficial in identifying job opportunities, gaining mentors, or seeking advice.

If you’re interested in pursuing your MBA, see what Xavier University can do for you. At Xavier, we’re driven by a dedication to the common good and the education of the whole person. As a Jesuit Catholic university, we prepare students for a meaningful life of work, service, and personal fulfillment with a rigorous education rooted in the liberal arts tradition. Request information about our Master’s in Business Administration program to learn more about the curriculum, coursework, and your future at Xavier University.


What qualifies you for an MBA?

Students with an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, a good academic record, and relevant work experience may qualify for admission to an MBA program. Some MBA programs may also require applicants to take a standardized test, such as the GMAT or GRE. Additionally, some programs may consider other factors, such as leadership experience, community involvement, and personal essays as part of the admissions process.

What GPA do you need for an MBA?

The GPA requirement for an MBA program varies depending on the school and the program. However, a good rule of thumb is that most top MBA programs expect a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher. Some schools may accept a lower GPA if the candidate has other strong qualifications, such as work experience or a high GMAT or GRE score.

How many years does it take to get an MBA?

The duration of an MBA program may vary depending on the format of the program, the school, and the individual’s course load. Full-time MBA programs typically take two years to complete, while part-time programs generally take three to four years. Accelerated programs may be completed in as little as one year. Executive MBA programs, designed for professionals with significant work experience, may take 18-24 months.

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