What is an MBA?: Meaning, purpose and reasons to study

An MBA is one of the most popular Master’s degree programs, with the highest demand in the world. Despite this, many people do not know exactly what an MBA consists of and what purpose it serves. We can clear up your doubts if you read the following sections below.

What does “MBA” mean?

The meaning of the term “MBA” comes from the English-language acronym for Master of Business Administration. In Spanish, some of the terms most commonly used are “Maestría en Administración de Negocios,” in Latin America, or “Máster en Administración y Dirección de Empresas,” in Spain.

What is an mba? Floating on the water looking for an answer.

Photo: Luis Hernández

Requirements for acceptance into an MBA degree program

An MBA is a graduate course of study. This means you must first have earned an undergraduate university degree before being able to enter an MBA program. In other words, you must have completed your studies with a bachelor’s degree from any university in the world.

However, your bachelor’s degree does not have to be related with the business world. Though business schools and universities have the final word on this matter, in general you can become a student in an MBA program with any university bachelor’s degree.

Score on the GMAT exam

Another requirement when applying to almost any of the most prestigious business schools is to report your score on the GMAT exam. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is an exam in English that measures your knowledge and aptitude for undertaking business and management studies. In Spain, you will need to take the GMAT if you are applying to study at the IE Business School, IESE Business School and ESADE Business School, as well as others.

Types of MBA degrees

  • Full-time MBA: These programs target recent graduates or employees with little work experience. This is the most common type of MBA program. It normally lasts two years with full-time study. In other words, it cannot be combined with work. However, some schools also offer part-time MBA degree programs on weekends or specific days of the week.
  • Executive MBA (EMBA): Intended for professionals with several years of experience (generally at least 5 years). These tend to be part-time programs which allow students to work while completing their courses.
  • Global Executive MBA: These programs are the same as the Executive MBA’s, but take place in an international environment. They normally include stays in several foreign cities.

How long does an MBA program last?

The length of the program depends on the type of MBA you choose. The programs on our lists are almost all full-time MBA degrees intended for recent university graduates. They usually last between one and two years.

Purpose of an MBA program and subjects studied

The main purpose of an MBA degree is to teach students how to manage a company in every way, or in other words, to train qualified executives who have a global vision for business.

The subject matter which is taught can be quite varied, though it may be grouped into three main categories:

  • Analytical: accounting, business economics, researching operations, behavior in organizations, economic policy, statistics and quantitative analysis.
  • Functional: financial management, human resources management, marketing management and management of operations.
  • Ethical: social and corporate responsibility, business ethics.

Some MBA programs include internships in companies as part of the educational experience, thereby assisting students with their eventual integration into the job market.

Last of all, but no less important, a Master’s degree of this type provides a great opportunity to meet people in the business world, or “make contacts,” as people usually say. These contacts can be essential during your future career as a professional.

Why get an MBA degree?

An MBA degree means a large expenditure in terms of both time and money. Deciding to undertake such studies is not something to be taken lightly. As far as we see it, you should apply for an MBA degree if you wish to work in the field of business management and you have the funds available to pay the costs, as well. It is as simple as that. An MBA will improve your resume, but it will not guarantee a job for you when you complete the program. Taking on debt in order to do an MBA is not the most advisable idea.

If you cannot afford an MBA but you want to become an entrepreneur and your plan is to start up a small company, then don’t spend your money on a degree. Spend it on your company. You will learn much faster. Guaranteed. And if you do need more advanced knowledge, then buy a good book. You can find everything in books. It may sound old-fashioned, but that does not make it any less true.

The finest business schools in Spain

If you have already made up your mind to pursue MBA studies and you have the budget to do so, you should try to attend a prestigious business school, if possible. The better the school (and the more expensive), the greater potential you will later have to take full advantage of your MBA. Three of the business schools in Spain are considered to be the most prestigious: The IESE Business School, IE Business School and ESADE Business School.

Don’t get discouraged if you do not have enough money to afford studying at one of these three schools, though. In Spain, we are lucky to have many public universities which offer high-quality MBA programs at an affordable cost, such as the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) and the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), as well as others.

If you would like to know how much it costs to study at these schools and universities, please check out our listing of tuition fees for MBA programs in Spain.