Getting an MBA: Everything You Need to Know

What is an MBA?

MBA stands for Masters of Business Administration, it is a post graduate degree (a degree that you qualify for only after receiving your Bachelor's degree) in business communication. The MBA degree is a popular degree for business students who are looking towards a career in business management, and it's suitable for people who are in executive and managerial positions in their jobs.

MBA programs focuses on the theory and application of business and management principles - the syllabus equips students with practical knowledge that can be applied to real world business situations. An example of the modules that students can expect to learn are:

Strategic Analysis of International Business
Strategic Marketing
Human Resource Management
Financial Management
International Business Environment


Where can I get an MBA?

In Singapore, there are over 20 institutes that provide MBA programs. The schools offer a selection of both full time and part time courses, and the programs are delivered through lectures and tutorials in person, not online. Private institutions that offer MBA programs do so through their university partners, some of the institutes offer MBA from the same university, this means that you'd be able to get the same certification in different places in Singapore. Bear in mind that although the certification may be the same, the faculty, its facilities and team of lecturers will differ, this will affect your experience in school and the quality of your education.

If you wish to, there are also options for getting an MBA online.


What are the requirements to qualify for an MBA?

The basic requirement to qualify for an MBA would be a recognized bachelor's degree and at least 3 - 5 years of real world work experience. An actual example of the admission criteria for an MBA program:

Min of 3-5 years work experience
At least a good second class degree
Equivalent professional qualifications will also be considered
No exemptions will be granted.

English proficiency requirement

A minimum of C6 pass in English as First Language at ‘O’ level
IELTS 6.5, TOEFL 580, IBT 93 (with no less than 20 in any band)

Applicants will be interviewed before being accepted into the programme.



What are the benefits of getting an MBA?

People consider getting an MBA for the following reasons:

1) Better job prospects and opportunities
Students feel that bolstering their resume with an MBA will land them fast-track promotions, higher salaries, better networks, etc. They also feel that an MBA will put them in a more advantageous spot when pursuing a job of managerial and executive level.

2) Comprehensive and structured set of managerial and technical skills
The courses help you understand and concretize and the bits and pieces of knowledge and skills that you picked up while working and develop them fully, starting from the fundamentals.

3) Networking opportunities
The classmates that you work and interact with are also working professionals and they provide for good networking opportunities. Your classmates might be able to bring you into their company or connect you with their own business contacts.

4) Prestige
Holding an MBA from a top-tier school will put you in a favourable position in companies that emphasizes on advanced schooling - many government and public sector jobs in Singapore recognize and reward employees with an advanced degree - this includes higher salary and top executive positions. In large MNCs, having an MBA is almost a must-have for moving up the corporate ladder.


Considerations before getting an MBA

Taking up an MBA is a huge investment of both time and money. MBA programs can easily start at S$30,000 and take 2 - 4 years to complete, depending on the university and whether you're eligible for any exemptions.

If you are taking a full time MBA, there's also a significant opportunity cost of not working. Your decision to take up an MBA must be carefully evaluated based on its return on investment. The total cost of taking up an MBA can be calculated like so:

(Total tuition fees) + (Monthly salary x Duration of MBA program) + (Academic expenses - e.g. books, hostels, etc)

Next, you'll want to weigh the costs against the benefits (monetary) of getting an MBA - this will mainly be through an increase in your salary post MBA. Also consider that your new salary has an increased cap, so project and account for its gradual increase over time.

Other important considerations - does your company offers sponsorship to employees for the M.B.A. program? Do they guarantee you a spot in the company after you completed your studies? This will help to significantly decrease the costs of getting an MBA.


What are the different types of MBA programs?

There are 6 different types of MBA, they are
  1. Two-year (Full Time) MBA
  2. Students will spend over 2 academic years to complete the program; they must have at least 3-5 years of real-world work experience to qualify; classes are during weekdays like other university students.
  3. Accelerated MBA
  4. Variation of the 2 year MBA programs involving higher course load and more intensive class and examination schedules. The school breaks between semesters are much shorter - 7 to 10 days off instead of 3 to 4 months summer break.
  5. Part-time MBA 
  6. These programs are held on weekday evenings, after office hours, and on the weekends. The program duration for part-time MBA is usually three years or more. This course is suited for people who wish to work and study at the same time and the format of the course entails light course load for a longer period of time.
  7. Executive MBA (EMBA)
  8. EMBA programs are designed for managers and executives - it allows students to earn an MBA in 2 years or less while holding a full time job. EMBA students have much more work experience than normal MBA students - usually 10 years or more. The popularity of EMBA programs have been increasing over the years.
  9. Distance learning MBA
  10. Classes in these programs are held off-campus. The courses are delivered in a variety of formats:  postal mail, email, video, teleconference, videoconference, online computer courses. Distance learning is not very common in Singapore as most of the students here prefer to attend schools in person.
  11. Dual MBA
  12. This program combine an MBA degree with others. Dual programs cost less than pursuing 2 degrees separately and it allows the student to save money and time. The average duration of dual MBA is 4 to 5 years.


What factors should I consider when selecting an MBA?

First and foremost, you'd have to consider the business school that is awarding the MBA. Their standings and rankings can be researched online - here are several useful resources:

Financial Time's Business School Rankings
Forbe's List of the Best Business Schools
US-News.com MBA Rankings
Top MBA MBA in Asia Pacific Rankings
The Economist MBA Rankings

The rankings and positions of each school and MBA across the list may differ (because of different methodology and geographical definitions of how and which schools are included and ranked). Cross examine the schools among the lists for a better idea of how recognized and established they are.

Rankings are important because they indicate which programmes have the best reputation - this includes how the companies perceive your MBA. The schools median GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) shows applicants how selective the school is in choosing its students.

The MBA programs may differ slightly in their modules offered, but their core curriculum are more or less the same - students will take courses in marketing, finance, accounting and organisational behaviour. More specific topics like investment management and operations strategy are also commonly provided.

Asking yourself the following questions will help you choose better:

1) Why do I want to get an MBA?
Do you want to advance further up the corporate ladder? Or perhaps you'd like to work in another industry and an MBA will help you get in easier. Asking yourself the purpose of getting an MBA will help you find an MBA that's better suited in helping you achieve your goals.

2) What kind of learning style is most suitable for me?
If you're a quick learner and you don't mind mugging, perhaps an accelerated MBA would be suitable for you. Otherwise, you could consider a full time MBA of 2 years at a moderate pace, or a part time MBA of 3 to 4 years that will allow you to keep your employment while you study. Ask yourself if you'd be able to cope with the stress, don't only focus on getting things done fast, you might tire yourself out and instead take a longer time to complete the course.

Other considerations of choosing an MBA includes checking to see if the schools have the programmes that match your needs. Also visit their website, read their blogs, inquire about the school on forums, attend their open house events and information sessions, and visit the school to ask the students in person more about the course.
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