When you’re ready to pursue a career change or apply for a leadership role, earning an advanced degree can add to and deepen your skill set. A Master of Business Administration program can provide such a pathway, and when you take courses online alongside a full-time job, you can continue your education while also building your resume.
A common question at the beginning of this process is how long it will take to complete the requirements and earn your MBA. There is no one answer that applies to all schools, as there are variables such as full- and part-time schedules to consider, as well as differing course and credit offerings. However, once you narrow down the type of program that’s right for you, you’ll be able to plan out your educational future.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an MBA Program?
The typical time required to complete an MBA program is approximately two years. U.S. News & World Report states there is some variability in program length because of factors like accelerated schedules and varying levels of flexibility.
When you work with a modern online MBA program, the amount of time you take to complete it is partially under your control. You are free to choose how many courses to take each semester, keeping in mind the amount of time you’ll need to devote to your current job and ensuring you still have free time to avoid burnout.
With a full load of courses each semester, you can complete the online MBA program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business in six semesters. In that time, you will complete 36 credit hours of work, or 39 if you have elected to take a concentration alongside the core MBA curriculum.
This schedule includes a semester largely dedicated to a self-directed Strategic Management capstone project. This is always the last term of the MBA program, and you will decide your topic of research with your student advisor. The project unites the many concepts associated with an MBA education, from leadership, finance, and accounting to marketing, economics, IT, and more.
How Long Does Earning an MBA Take? Part-Time vs. Full-Time
A big difference between full- and part-time MBA programs is whether the coursework will allow you to continue to work while taking courses. U.S. News & World Report indicates some accelerated MBA programs allow full-time students to finish their education in a single year, but this is accompanied by a large course load each semester, one that would likely force you to leave your current job.
A part-time MBA schedule, enabled by asynchronous online coursework, allows you to earn your degree in two years or more on your own schedule. Whether mornings, evenings, weekends, or certain workdays are the best times for you to learn, the flexibility enables you to fit the work in. Using up-to-date remote learning technology, these courses don’t sacrifice the features of traditional college learning, such as expert lectures and group projects.
What Can Make an MBA Program Take Longer?
When an MBA program takes more than the minimum required time, the reasons are largely under your control. For instance, if you are not comfortable with the course load it would take to finish the program in six semesters, it’s easy to build a plan that works around your free time and professional schedule.
MBA programs are designed to prepare graduates for leadership roles in departments throughout companies. To build a resume that will help you take on these positions, you will need impressive work experience alongside your educational background. This makes it advantageous to schedule your MBA courses around your full-time professional life and build both parts of your background simultaneously.
Is It Worth It to Get an MBA?
Once you’ve determined your ideal schedule for earning an MBA, the next important question is whether this investment of time and effort will pay off in pursuing your career goals. Because hiring managers and executives across industries understand what goes into earning an MBA, there are many cases in which the degree is worth the investment.
Investopedia described some of the factors that determine whether a master’s degree will pay off. For instance, when the diploma comes from a respected university, it will carry more authority. When searching for online programs, you should apply the same criteria that go into picking colleges for on-campus study: accreditation, qualified faculty, and a strong academic reputation. Investopedia also notes that 95% of former MBA students who responded to the Alumni Perspective Survey Report said their degrees provided good, excellent, or outstanding value.
What Are the Concentrations You Can Get with an MBA?
Seeking an MBA is not a one-size-fits-all process. With an optional concentration, you can tailor your areas of interest and specialize in knowledge that points to particular career paths. Whether this means deepening your investment in your current field or precipitates a change of direction in your professional life, a concentration gives hiring managers a clear view of your priorities. The four following concentrations are available in the UAB 100% online MBA program.
In the finance concentration, you will gain a detailed view of the processes that go into being a financial leader at a large organization. These include constructing an investment portfolio, navigating mergers and acquisitions, calculating risk, and managing the company’s capital.
Studying marketing enables you to see the way modern departments promote companies and products, performing up-to-date analysis and making data-driven decisions. You will also learn to make the most of the latest software tools to direct and oversee campaigns.
Management Information Systems
Since today’s companies are more digitally enabled than ever before, information system knowledge is highly relevant. In this concentration, you’ll discover the best practices of information security, social media usage, web analytics, and more.
Management in the health care sector is different than in any other field, with federal regulations governing personal information security and confidentiality, as well as financial requirements rooted in the insurance industry. This concentration allows you to immerse yourself in these practices.
How Can You Get Started Earning an MBA?
When you’ve identified the ideal combination of concentration and schedule to fit your career aspirations, it’s time to begin the MBA application process. This typically involves taking a Graduate Management Admission Test, though the Collat School of Business online MBA program does offer waivers on the exam for applicants who have a relevant professional and academic history.
In as few as two years, you can graduate with your MBA degree and begin planning the next stages of your professional life. A master’s degree in business administration remains the standard when it comes to proving your leadership aptitude.
To learn more about the UAB 100% online MBA, visit the program page.