Online MBA program today: global workplace tomorrow

By Kay Easton

The Master of Business Administration or MBA is one of the best-known degrees in the world and is also one of the most sought-after postgraduate degrees, according to the "QS Top MBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2010/11." The report, commissioned by London-based, global career and education network Quacquarelli Symonds, suggests that "MBA" could stand for mobile, bright and ambitious.

Online Master of Business Administration studies as businesses go global

Both campus and online MBA programs generally take from one to two years to complete, depending on the program and whether attendance is full time or part time. In addition to requiring a bachelor's degree, MBA programs may also require prerequisite foundation coursework in business-specific math, economics, statistics, marketing, accounting and finance.

Convenient online MBA programs are popular options for business professionals who work full time while earning their MBAs. With more businesses going global, online MBA schools see distance learning as a logical choice for students who may be conducting tomorrow's business via the Internet.

Campus and online MBA concentrations and coursework

Whether an MBA program is a vehicle for career change or for progression into upper management, it is designed to provide a strong basic foundation in management, accounting, finance, human resources and marketing, with concentrations available in areas such as these:

  1. Entrepreneurship
  2. Finance
  3. Health care
  4. Human resources
  5. Information management
  6. International management
  7. Marketing

Classes vary from Master of Business Administration program to another, but sample coursework can include the following:

  • Financial and Economic Analysis
  • International Business
  • Marketing Concepts and Strategy
  • Marketing Research
  • Operations and Information Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Public Policy

Because the version of business taught in an MBA program may not always reflect the realities of the working world, internships can also be valuable educational and career tools for MBA students without extensive business experience.

Finance, technology and politics: famous MBAs

Graduates of MBA programs pursue business management careers across the nation and around the globe in consulting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, government and nonprofits. The list of notable MBA holders is a long one that includes leaders such as these:

  • Former president, George W. Bush
  • Robert Edward Diamond, Jr., president of Barclays Bank
  • Jamie Dimon, president of JPMorgan Chase
  • William Hague, British foreign secretary
  • Paul Otellini, president & CEO of Intel
  • Several of India's current cabinet ministers

Salaries for grads of Master of Business Administration programs

Earning a campus or online MBA can be costly but should pay off: Average salaries for MBA graduates entering the job market are roughly three times the salaries of most undergraduates entering the job market, reports the QS study.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the mean annual wage for all management occupations in 2010 was $105,440, ranging from $38,470 for legislators to $173,350 for chief executives. The top paying activities were related to financial investment and securities and commodity contracts. Salaries vary widely and depend heavily on industry sector, type and size of the business, geographical area, years of experience, and other factors.

Master of Business Administration degrees and job outlook

Global job opportunities for MBA graduates increased by 24 percent in 2010 after a decline of 5 percent in 2009, according to the QS study. The U.S. lagged behind at 9 percent growth, with emerging markets in China, India and Russia accounting for most of the increase.

The QS report also noted that financial services hiring increased 22 percent in 2010, and industry and manufacturing was up 31 percent. MBA consulting jobs increased by 19 percent in 2010 and are projected to rise by 37 percent in 2011. Employment opportunities for MBAs in pharmaceuticals and health care, however, are expected to decline.

Experience is also an issue; hiring for MBA graduates with less than three years experience has decreased sharply, according to the QS report, with the highest demand for those with three to five years of experience. MBA graduates with more than five years experience are also seeing increased employment opportunities.

Regardless of whether graduates hold degrees from campus or online MBA schools, employers who responded to the QS survey agreed that they are looking for leadership, communication, and interpersonal and strategic thinking skills when hiring. Master of Business Administration programs provide the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to pursue a top career in the highly competitive world of business, or even politics.

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