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What can you do with an MBA? Careers, tips and more

Field of Study: MBA

By Elizabeth Exline  

At a glance

  • The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree that focuses on developing management, leadership and decision-making skills.
  • In 2018–2019, for example, more MBAs were conferred (197,089) than any other master’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Some MBA programs offer flexibility with part-time, full-time and competency-based options available.
  • An MBA can be specialized in such categories as finance, human resources, marketing and project management.

Interested in earning your MBA degree? Click here!

Pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree

When it comes to education, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. But the degree track that possibly comes the closest is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Covering such skills as management, decision-making and leadership, an MBA prepares for a variety of career paths, including roles in business operations management and administration.

The MBA’s versatility may also account for its popularity. While recent reports suggest a decline in overall applicants for MBA programs, it has historically outperformed most master’s programs. In 2018 – 2019, for example, more MBAs were conferred (197,089) than any other master’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. (Only the health professions and related programs came close with 131,569 master’s degrees conferred.)

Similar to an MBA’s utility, which is diverse and evolving, earning an MBA is a process with many opportunities for customization. Do you want to attend a full-time or a part-time program? Do you want to explore a competency-based Master of Business Administration degree for an expedited experience? Do you want to customize your MBA with a certificate in finance or marketing?

Here, we’ll explore what’s possible when it comes to getting an MBA and putting it to work for you after graduation.

How do I start a career in business?

A business career means different things to different people. Where one professional might hear "business career path" and think "C-suite executive," another might envision owning a small business or a role in finance or marketing.

Business, in other words, is enticingly flexible when it comes to opportunities. To begin your career, consider doing the following:

  1. Pursue a business degree. A Bachelor of Science in Business lays the foundation for the skill set you’ll need in any business career, whether that’s working at a company or owning your own business.
  2. Get experience. Internships, volunteer opportunities and even temporary jobs can all offer the kind of insight crucial to determining the career you want. There’s nothing like experience, after all, to both boost your resumé and help you figure out what you do and don’t want to do in your career.
  3. Join a professional organization. Getting to know people in your field offers all sorts of advantages. In addition to networking, professional organizations often serve as a way to crowdsource information regarding skills, opportunities and the future of your industry.
  4. Contemplate an advanced degree. Here’s where the MBA comes into play. Once you have your bachelor’s degree and possibly a few years of professional experience, earning an MBA might be the next step on your career path.

What is an MBA?

Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is a graduate degree that delves into the subject of business management and administration. Courses tend to focus on critical thinking and effective management so that program graduates are prepared to lead organizations of any size into the future.

According to, "You can focus on a certain business-related field while earning an MBA, such as marketing, finance, operations or human resources."

Types of MBA programs

Nowadays, students enjoy a wide range of options when it comes to MBA programs. In addition to in-person and online formats, there are full-time and part-time programs available, as well as the executive MBA (when leaders in the workplace go back to school to earn their graduate degree, often on their employer’s dime).

Then there is the competency-based Master of Business Administration degree (MBA-CB). Like a part-time program, which makes it easier for students to work while pursuing their degree, the MBA-CBE is ideal for professionals who want to expedite their degree program by leveraging their on-the-job experience. Competency-based education (CBE) directly ties credits to measurable skills. Once a student can demonstrate a skill, he or she can move on to learning something new.

CBE is well-suited to students who work well independently and have strong time-management skills. With determination and real-world experience, MBA-CBE students at University of Phoenix (UOPX) can complete their degree in less than 12 months (and for under $10,000!).

MBA concentrations and specializations

While the beauty of an MBA is its flexibility — it can be leveraged in many roles and across many industries — students may also find that concentrating in a particular field helps them better reach their professional goals.

At UOPX for example, MBA students can pursue one of four concentrations with a graduate certificate:

  1. Finance: Learn how to solve financial challenges and mitigate financial risk as well as how to use financial techniques to make investment decisions.
  2. Human Resource Management: Learn how to recruit employees, address legal issues and build compensation and benefits packages.
  3. Marketing: Learn how to increase product awareness and leverage e-marketing strategies.
  4. Project Management: Learn how to estimate project costs, motivate teams and measure progress.

What can you do with an MBA?

Whether you’re looking to run your own business or enhance your business career, an MBA can help. It not only imparts valuable skills for today’s job market, but it also positions graduates to pursue a number of career paths that are forecast to grow: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in all management occupations will grow 8% from 2021 to 2031.

Is an MBA worth it?

Deciding whether to pursue an MBA depends on your goals.

"An MBA can be helpful in distinguishing you in your field and demonstrates your commitment to learning," says Kevin Wilhelmsen, dean of the College of Business and Information Technology at University of Phoenix. "It can’t guarantee you the job of your dreams, but it can lay a strong foundation for you to pursue the career path you want."

Ultimately, if you’re looking to enhance your career in business with a leadership role, or if you’re planning to start your own company someday, an MBA can be a smart move.

How to find a job with an MBA

Of course, having an MBA doesn’t necessarily translate to recruiters beating down your door. In fact, U.S. News & World Report points out that a job search, even with an MBA under your belt, can take 10-15 hours a week. And it may require the following, too:

  • Finding the right company (for you): Just because one tech giant gets all the love from the news, the pundits and your peers doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Look for companies that align with your values, skills and background and try applying there first.
  • Doing your due diligence: Before you interview, get a sense of where the company is in the marketplace and where it's going. Having a thorough understanding of the organization as well as how you can bring value to it, can positively impact an interview.
  • Learning how to interview well: This comes with time and practice, but the goal is to connect with your interviewer and answer each question in a thoughtful and complete way.
  • Being original: If you can find the answer online, don’t bother asking it in an interview. Take your thought process — and your questions — to the next level.
  • Getting on LinkedIn®Optimizing your LinkedIn profile and using that platform to your advantage — to showcase projects, for example, or share original insights to trending issues — can help build the right kind of traction.

University of Phoenix supports students and alumni throughout the job search process through the PhoenixLink™ Network, a directory of likeminded peers to network with through the career journey, and its commitment to Career Services for Life™.

MBA jobs

An MBA doesn’t limit you to one industry or role. At University of Phoenix, however, it does prepare you for the following professions:

Business manager

  • Overview: Business managers plan and oversee measures that help their organizations achieve optimal efficiencies. Areas that may fall under their jurisdiction include budgets, marketing, business strategy and personnel.
  • National median salary: $102,450 for management occupations in 2021, according to BLS.
  • Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree and related work experience are customary.
  • Job outlook: Projected growth of 8% between 2021 and 2031, according to BLS.

General and operations manager

  • Overview: General managers are often responsible for multiple departments and may be required to formulate policies and manage daily operations.
  • National salary range: $43,470 to $221,270 in May 2022, according to BLS.
  • Education requirements: Most management roles require a bachelor’s degree at minimum.

Facilities manager

  • Overview: Responsible for ensuring the well-being and efficiency of a facility, a facility manager may oversee compliance with environmental and health regulations as well as the maintenance and repair of equipment and the security of the building.
  • National salary range: $59,470 to $168,910 in May 2021, according to BLS.
  • Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree and related work experience are typically required.
  • Job outlook: Projected growth of 7% between 2021 and 2031, according to BLS.

Median incomes are reported by the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics, and are not specific to University of Phoenix graduates. Further, these national averages may include earners at all stages of their career and may not accurately reflect entry level wages or variations by region. Your earning outcome may vary.  University of Phoenix does not guarantee salary level. 

How to get an MBA

Finding the right MBA program means evaluating both your situation and your goals. At University of Phoenix, the Master of Business Administration degree was developed to align with the market’s in-demand skills. As students complete each course, a MyPhoenix skills profile reveals which skills they can confidently apply in the workforce as well as which ones need a little extra attention.

Independent learners with professional experience and a penchant for a self-led format may also consider the competency-based MBA program.

How long does it take to get an MBA?

The MBA program at University of Phoenix can be completed in approximately 16 months, with students taking just one course at a time.

The competency-based program can be finished even sooner, in just one year. Start dates for both programs are available throughout the year.

MBA requirements

Once upon a time, aspiring MBA students couldn’t contemplate graduate school without taking either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The happy ending to that story is that such standardized exams are no longer universally required.

According to U.S. News & World Report, of 259 ranked online MBA programs, only 125 required GMAT or GRE scores. And all but six of those would waive that requirement in lieu of sufficient work experience or a certain college GPA.

University of Phoenix does not require GMAT or GRE scores for acceptance. Chris Gloor, the vice president of enrollment at University of Phoenix, explains this policy: "We are a university designed for working adults. Requiring exam results simply adds one more barrier to helping them achieve their goals. We’re in the business of removing barriers, not adding them."

How to prepare for an MBA program

You’ll need more than a strong internet connection to successfully complete an MBA program. According to Wilhelmsen, here’s how to prepare for success:

  • Establish good time-management skills.
  • Manage your own expectations — you’ll have papers, tests and deadlines to meet on top of your current obligations. Plan accordingly.
  • Get your financials in order, from completing the FAFSA® on time to applying for any scholarships or loans ahead of time. The fewer financial surprises you encounter along your journey, the better.

The cost of an MBA

At University of Phoenix, the MBA program tuition is both affordable and competitive. UOPX offers both a traditional online MBA program as well as a competency-based program. To learn more about the cost of attendance at University of Phoenix, visit

Even better, your tuition rate gets locked in when you start so that you pay the same amount for the last credit that you did for the first.

Curious how UOPX stacks up against other schools? We’re happy to show you.

The cost of time and money may be significant. But the return may be even more so.

See how earning an MBA unlocked the small-business dreams of two UOPX alumni.

Ready to get started on your MBA? Learn more about what’s involved today!

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