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Everything you need to know about getting an MBA 

So, you’ve decided the time is right to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Whether you want to grow your earning potential, prepare for new opportunities or simply develop your skills as a leader or manager, an MBA can offer you opportunities that may not exist for those with only a bachelor’s degree.

There are multiple pathways to an MBA for professionals, from traditional tracks at “brick-and-mortar” universities to flexible, online MBA degree programs that allow you to balance work and life with your education. Let’s walk through everything you need to know as you explore this pathway.

What is an MBA? 

An MBA is a graduate degree that many professionals use to prepare them for career growth. The degree program typically emphasizes leadership, management and marketing skills, with courses in MBA programs focusing on critical thinking and effective management practices.

MBAs are valuable credentials that are often helpful to those who want to enhance their knowledge and potential. But what’s the best way to get an MBA, and how long does it take?

A guide on how to get an MBA

Earning your MBA can be transformative for your career, but the steps to this accomplishment might be more complex than you initially thought. As you consider whether an MBA is right for you, remember that it’s often a multistep process with a significant time commitment. That said, if you decide to pursue your MBA, the following process is typical for most candidates:

1. Earn your bachelor’s degree 

The first step toward an MBA is having an appropriate undergraduate degree. While most MBA programs don’t require a specified field of study for a bachelor's degree, backgrounds in business, finance or economics provide a solid foundation for further study. However, the MBA-competency based program at UOPX does require a business-related bachelor’s degree.

2. Gain relevant work experience 

Work experience isn’t just a crucial part of MBA admission, but a sign that you can fully engage with course content. Having at least two to five years of professional experience can help prospective MBA students better understand and interact with an MBA program, but that’s not necessarily a requirement unless pursuing a competency-based MBA program. For those who want to pursue a self-driven, competency-based MBA program, that preexisting experience is critical for demonstrating mastery.

3. Prepare for and take the GMAT or GRE 

While University of Phoenix does not require GMAT or GRE scores for admission, some MBA programs do. Preparation and scoring well on these tests can help you assess whether you’re ready for the rigors of a graduate program.

4. Research MBA programs 

Research potential MBA programs early to understand their requirements and how each program may fit within your priorities. Consider the following aspects:

  • Program curriculum
  • Faculty expertise
  • Culture
  • Location
  • Alumni networks
  • Career services support

When considering an MBA program within the context of your professional goals, think about whether you are pursuing it to meet a requirement for a specific position or for other reasons. Think about whether you plan on attending classes in person, or if an online degree program would make more sense for your lifestyle. Finally, decide whether you want to pursue your degree on a part- or full-time basis.

5. Obtain relevant documents 

What do MBA programs look for?

Depending on the institution, you’ll likely need to have several items in hand as you apply to MBA programs. These are:

  • Official undergraduate transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  •  Application essays
  • GMAT or GRE test scores

One school that won’t ask for test scores, letters of recommendation or application essays? University of Phoenix. 

6. Apply to appropriate MBA programs 

Once you have the required information in hand, it’s time to apply to the MBA program or programs of your choice. University of Phoenix offers a flexible, simple admissions process that doesn’t rely on test scores or application essays. Enrollment counselors will even help request your prior transcripts.

7. Choose a school and prepare for enrollment 

After you’ve applied and been accepted to the MBA programs of your choice, it’s time to decide. Complete the enrollment process at your chosen school and prepare for the experience by speaking with academic counselors.

8. Balance your coursework with your existing commitments 

Starting an MBA program is only one step. Whether you choose to go with a traditional MBA, pursue an online degree or tackle a competency-based program, you’ll need to balance your schoolwork with your existing commitments. 

How long does it take to get an MBA? 

How long it takes to earn your MBA largely depends on several factors, such as the type of degree you pursue. Traditional MBA degrees generally take up to two years. Competency-based programs can be completed in as little as 12 months. As always, your own experience will depend on the number of classes you’re able to take and how much time you can dedicate to your education.

Professionals who want to earn two master’s degrees at once may need more time. The MBA is sometimes combined with other relevant master’s programs for an enhanced experience, as with UOPX’s MHA/MBA dual degree program. This offering combines a Master of Health Administration with an MBA; students can complete it in as little as 27 months. This program can prepare individuals for a rewarding career in healthcare administration.

Benefits of earning an MBA 

Discovering the potential benefits of earning a graduate degree goes far beyond simply asking what you can do with an MBA. Key advantages for learners include:

  • Increased salary potential
  • Possible leadership opportunities
  • An expanded professional network
  • Improved communication skills
  • Enhanced professional skills
  • Increased credibility among peers and superiors
  • Personal growth

Earning an MBA isn’t just about making more money or obtaining promotions, though. It’s also an excellent way to experience personal growth and meet new people. An MBA’s profound, far-reaching impact is one of the best investments you can make in your education, especially if you want to become a stronger manager or entrepreneur.

Frequently asked questions 

What qualifications do I need to get an MBA?

No matter where you intend to pursue an MBA, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to get started.

At University of Phoenix, you’ll also need to be a U.S. citizen or valid permanent resident. Additionally, you must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 on your official transcript, and you must not have been expelled from a higher education institution. Finally, you will need to meet program-specific requirements.

How long does it take to get an MBA?

University of Phoenix students can complete their traditional MBA in as little as 16 months. Competency-based MBA students can complete their degree in up to 12 months.

Is it necessary to take the GMAT or GRE for an MBA program?

While some MBA programs require you to take the GMAT or GRE to apply, University of Phoenix does not.

Is an MBA worth it?

Many people ask how much it costs to get an MBA. The cost across public and private institutions is broad and typically doesn’t factor in tuition assistance, scholarships or financial aid that students may or may not receive.

University of Phoenix’s MBA carries on the institution’s tradition of barrier-free education. The University strives to offer a fairly priced MBA program and deliver career-relevant skills graduates can apply as they learn them. In addition, UOPX support continues through opportunities such as career services post-graduation.

Earning your MBA at University of Phoenix

Earning your MBA is an exciting opportunity that, at University of Phoenix, can happen through two dynamic programs.

  • Master of Business Administration: Learn more about business strategies, organizational structure, human resource management, and training and development to build a foundation for leadership in business.
  • Master of Business Administration (Competency Based–CB): While the learning outcomes of the CB program match those of the traditional online MBA, the experience is different. In a CB program, students follow a self-paced program in conjunction with advisors to focus on learning skills they don’t have and demonstrating mastery of the skills they do. In this way, they can complete the program in as little as 12 months at UOPX.

University of Phoenix helps professionals earn their MBA on their schedule. Flexible online courses and student-centered academic support mean you’ll never take the journey on your own.

Request information about an online MBA from University of Phoenix today.

Headshot of Michael Feder


A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.

Kathryn Uhles


Since 2006, Kathryn Uhles has served University of Phoenix in Student Services, Operations, Curriculum and most recently as faculty and Dean of the College of Business and Information Technology.  She oversees the business and IT program and course offerings as well as the college faculty. 


This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.


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