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Planning Your StudiesWhat Are the Different Types of MBA?

What Are the Different Types of MBA?

Deciding on what type of Master’s Degree you want to do is quite challenging. For some people it comes naturally since they already know what they’re good at. For others, it might take some time and deep thought to finally make the choice.

A staggering amount of people choose to go into business for their Master’s Degree. It is one of the top fields in terms of enrollment with almost 18% of graduate students choosing it.

The most popular business degree is the Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

The MBA equips students with general knowledge on how to manage all aspects of an existing or new business. It entails taking a set of core courses as well as electives in case students want to become specialized. At the end, students receive their MBA degree and are considered business management experts.

Its value has been debated, but most researchers agree that pursuing an MBA degree is worth it.

The degree offers a wide variety of career paths for MBA graduates, and if you have no previous work experience, we have compiled a guide on how to get a job with an MBA degree and no experience.

If you are thinking about getting an MBA degree but are still researching its details, this article will inform you on the different types of MBA degrees and what each one entails.

It will cover the following topics:

General Types Of MBA

Almost all MBA programs across universities are offered in several types of modes and methods of study. These different types have come as a result of the needs of students for more flexibility and the changing business environment.

Below is an overview of each type of general MBAs:

Type of MBA Length Experience Required Schedule
Full time MBA 2 years 3+ years Full time course work
Part time MBA 3 to 6 years Not specified Evenings and weekends
Executive MBA 2 to 6 years 8+ years Evenings and weekends
Accelerated MBA 1 year Not specified Full time course work and no breaks
Global MBA 1 to 2 years 3+ years Full time course work
Online MBA 2 to 6 years Not specified Full time or part time in virtual platforms (customized)
Executive Education 1 year 3+ years Evenings and weekends
MBA Certificate 1 to 2 semesters Not specified 4 to 6 courses


Each of these types of MBA programs will be explained below in more detail.

Full time MBA

The full time MBA is the most common type of MBA degree. It involves intensive and full time coursework for typically two years or four semesters. Students take between 9 and 15 credits of work to be qualified as full time students. They attend classes every day as scheduled and have free weekends as well as winter and summer breaks.

In between these breaks, students are encouraged to engage in internships, graduate teaching or research assistantships and other personal projects. These help them in applying the skills they have learned, building a network, and opening up more career opportunities.

To enroll in the full time MBA, most universities require students to have at least three years or more of work experience. This is to ensure that they have been in different industries for a certain period of time and are not enrolling immediately after completing their Bachelor’s Degrees.

Some universities are becoming more lenient in this regard though, so if you have just graduated with an undergraduate degree and want to get a full time MBA, contact the university to get further information.

The cost of the full time MBA can be quite extensive, but there are financial aid and scholarship options possible. Students can apply for these tuition benefits with the university, take out a student loan, or negotiate with an existing employer to cover some of the cost.

Part time MBA

The part time MBA program usually known as the professional MBA or PMBA, is another quite common type of MBA degree. The degree has been tailored to the needs of people who have other obligations such as full time work or families and who are unable to become full time students.

The part time programs allow them to enroll in fewer credits than the full time MBA students and have a more flexible schedule. The curriculum of part time MBA programs is similar to the full time program but there might be some limitations on the specializations that students can take.

The part time MBA students can even take advantage of classes given during evenings or weekends. However, the part time MBA will take longer to complete than the full time MBA due to the lower number of classes and credits taken.

It can take double the amount of time to graduate from a part time MBA program, usually 3 or 4 years, although students are not allowed to be enrolled in the program for more than six years.

There are no strict requirements on the years of experience that students wanting to enroll in the part time MBA programs have. Universities will accept students immediately after their undergraduate degrees or with more years of experience.

The cost of the part time MBA is similar to the full time except that it will be spread out over more semesters. Because of this reason and the fact that most part time MBA students are working professionals, there are fewer financial aid and scholarship opportunities. To finance the degree, students can take loans or ask for employer funding.

Executive MBA

The Executive MBA or EMBA program is designed specifically for professionals with a lot of work experience who hold managerial and supervisory positions. The program is tailored to provide students in depth knowledge on business practices and approaches.

It does not typically cover basic business concepts since it is assumed that students are already familiar with those.

The target students of an EMBA program are working full time so courses will be held in evenings or weekends to accommodate their schedule. The coursework is intense so students can get their degree in two years, but most of them choose to take fewer courses so it might take them three or more years to graduate.

Most universities will require eight or more years of relevant business experience for students of an EMBA. The program is not aimed for people who have just gotten their undergraduate degree or are still in their early years of their careers.

EMBA programs will have more advanced concepts so they will only consider applicants who have been in business for some time.

The EMBA is quite expensive but most of them are company funded. This means that employers will pay for their best employees to gain new skills and apply them within the company.

The free education comes with some strings attached though because the EMBA students will be required to stay in the company for a predetermined time, usually a few years, to make sure that the investment in them is paid off.

If your EMBA is not sponsored by your employer, you can take student loans since scholarships and financial aid are rarely available.

Accelerated MBA

The Accelerated MBA program offers the opportunity to complete and get your MBA degree in 11 to 16 months. It is a fast paced and highly intensive program which doesn’t allow students to engage in other activities since they don’t have the time. The credits are usually more than the full time MBA to be able to reach graduation in time.

This type of MBA degree is for students who want to get the degree in a very short amount of time and get back to the labor market. They might be students who have just gotten their undergraduate degrees or professionals who cannot afford to stay in school for more than one year.

The curriculum is similar to the full time MBA program, but with a heavier course load. There are fewer breaks, with students sometimes required to attend lectures during weekends. There might also be a winter and a summer semester so there is no time for internships or research opportunities.

The cost of the Accelerated MBA is higher than other types because of its intensity. To fund it, students can take advantage of scholarships and financial aid, as well as student loans. Students should also check with their employers for any funding or grant opportunities.

Global MBA

Business is increasingly becoming more global and overcoming national borders. Companies and corporations expand in different countries and the demand for global business skills has increased. That is why universities have introduced their global MBA programs.

The global MBA is for working professionals from all over the world who are engaged in international business. It brings together a group of highly diverse people who can share and discuss business practices from different regions and countries.

The program takes one to two years to complete and has full time course work. The curriculum is similar to the full time MBA but it takes more of a global perspective on the pertaining issues and business concepts.

Global MBA programs are not designed for people without any work experience so the admitted students are usually those who have worked in managerial and supervisory positions before.

The cost of the program is quite high but there might be employer funding or grants available to cover it.

Online MBA

The online MBA is another innovative solution for people who have work and family obligations. It is in the form of distance learning which is becoming increasingly popular in all fields of study.

The online MBA gives students the opportunity to use technology to get their degree.

All courses which make up the online MBA are taught on virtual platforms. Students might be able to access prerecorded lectures or watch live lectures from the professors. They can do assignments and projects as well as discuss with their peers online.

The time it will take to complete an MBA depends on the commitment of the students. They can complete it as a full time or part time MBA, so it can take between two to five years of study.

The curriculum is similar to the on-campus MBA degrees but is modified to fit the virtual platforms it is taught on.

The benefits of the online MBA include the diversity of students who can access the courses from different countries of the world and with various working experience. They can share business practices and have in depth discussions which lead to learning different perspectives.

The cost for online degrees is much lower than other MBA degrees as there are no expenses for relocation and students can spread the tuition over several semesters. There are most likely no scholarship or financial aid opportunities, but students can access loans or company funding.

Executive Education

The Executive Education MBA is a new type of MBA. This allows companies to enroll their employees in an intensive program with a customized curriculum. The curriculum will be compiled from professors and employers to teach the skills that the company needs the employees to have.

The program is intensive with classes taught on evenings and weekends, but it gives opportunities to employees to become highly skilled and get promoted.

It is also basically free education since employers pay for it with the condition that employees will stay in the company for a few years.

MBA Certificate

The MBA certificate does not give its students a full degree, but it can be quite helpful in building skills and knowledge. The certificate is designed for students who need business skills to succeed in their jobs or get promoted.

The MBA certificate is much shorter and cheaper than full degrees.

The certificates usually entail one or two semesters of full time or part time work, depending on the needs of students. During these semesters, students take around four to six courses of their choice. The courses can be general or specialized MBA electives.

The MBA certificates do not require any work experience for admitting students so anyone can enroll. They will have to pay the individual courses or the whole certificate since there are rarely any funding opportunities.

Types Of MBA Specializations By Function

After choosing their general type of MBA degree, a lot of students also have the opportunity to choose a specialization. This is done after the first year of the MBA when students complete their core courses. Then based on their electives, they can specialize in a function or in an industry.

If you are unsure of what specializations and electives a university has, do not hesitate to contact them and ask. Below are some of the functional specializations that MBA students can select.

General Management

General Management specialization is the traditional MBA specialization. Students will gain more in-depth knowledge in business topics so that they can take on different management roles after they graduate.

This specialization encompasses all the others and is more suitable for students who are unsure of what to specialize in.


Finance is one of the most popular specializations because of the job availability as well as the high salary potential. Students take courses in portfolio management, hedge fund or derivate management, asset and credit risk management and others.

The specialization qualifies them to work in financial and non-financial institutions such as:

  • investment banking
  • corporate finance
  • institutional finance
  • international finance and others


The Accounting specialization prepares students for future positions in business firms and companies. They take courses on advanced accounting practices and have the opportunity to get their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification.

They can go on to become accountants, financial managers, auditors and others.


Another popular specialization is Marketing. It equips students with the skills to develop marketing strategies, manage and execute plans, improve revenue and profitability, and maintain good PR.

Students take courses in advertising, brand management, marketing research, product management etc.

Operations and Supply Chain

This specialization focuses on managing the daily operations of a business and its supply chain. It involves courses such as product design and manufacturing, supply chain management, quality control management.

Students graduate to work as operations chiefs, warehousing and inventory managers, transportation managers and so on.

Human Resources

Specializing in Human Resources indicates that the students want to go into a business and manage the staff. They take courses which teach them recruitment practices, performance evaluation, training and skill development, promotions and compensation, and health and safety.

Students can then work in any company as human resource managers and directors.

Health Care Management

Health Care Management specialization is becoming quite popular. It teaches students the skills to obtain management positions in health care facilities, insurance agencies, pharmaceuticals, elderly care, and public health.

IT and Information Systems

The increasing use of technology in corporations has demanded that universities introduce the IT and Information Systems specialization.

This specialization helps students manage online business and they learn skills such as data analytics, network security and administration, and systems analysis.


Consulting is a very wide specialization. Students with an MBA in Consulting are equipped to work as independent consultants tackling and solving different business problems in all areas of management.

It qualifies students for demanding jobs which also give competitive salaries.


The Entrepreneurship specialization is for students who already have their own business or aspire to have one. It teaches students business models and practices for start-ups and how to develop and grow them.

Types Of MBA Specializations By Industry

The other way in which MBA students can specialize and choose the type of MBA program they want is by industry.

There are various industry specializations, but some of the more popular are:

  • Health, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech
  • Media, Entertainment, and Sports
  • Non Profits

In each of the industry specializations, students learn skills and knowledge that they can apply to that particular industry. They become industry experts and can work in various job positions within it.

The industry specializations are recommended more for working professionals who have experience in that particular industry and want to know more so that they can advance and get higher salaries.

Choosing An MBA Program

It is particularly difficult to choose a program, but there are various factors you should take into account such as:

There is no one best MBA specialization, but evaluating each of these factors will narrow down the type of MBA degree you should take and will make the decision much easier and feasible for you.

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