MBA Origins and Purpose

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is the leading degree around the world for managers. Anyone aspiring to senior positions within an organization might want to consider going for an MBA.

Origins of the MBA

The degree can be thought to have originated at the beginning of the 19th century, in 1881 in the United States. The first two American business schools, Wharton and the University of Chicago, were founded and eventually began to offer advanced courses in business disciplines.

In 1898, the University of St Gallen in Switzerland was created, becoming one of the very first European business schools after the 1819 founding of The École spéciale de commerce et d’industrie in Paris.

The first true MBA programs are considered to have begun with the founding of the Harvard Business School in 1908. The first group of students were, as their studies progressed, given the opportunity to qualify for a Master of Business Administration.

Initially, the training was intended to provide management knowledge to engineers. The MBA is therefore aimed at people most often with a scientific profile who hold positions of responsibility and wish to progress to senior executive positions within a company or other organization.

The schools, faculties and universities which award the degree are often called MBA Business Schools or a Graduate School of Management.

The MBA is intended for those who want to work in a company. But there is also the MPA, Master of Public Administration, which is oriented towards the public sector.

Here is a timeline of the history of the MBA.

Content of MBA Programs

The MBA offers a program comprising many business subjects such as marketing, economics, finance, accounting, management, and technology leadership.

The MBA is not a state degree and is not protected, which means that each school and university does what it wants in terms of admission and the content of the programs. However, the MBA remains one of the best ways to obtain high-level positions of responsibility. In general, having obtained an MBA allows access to roles commanding excellent salaries.

A management diploma par excellence, the Master of Business Administration is a generalist type of training which often helps boost one’s career plan. It is aimed more at executives who already have a few years of experience than at young graduates.

MBA Degrees Around the World

Globe featuring North America

There are more than 3,000 MBAs in the world. Admission requirements vary significantly from one business school to another but are generally based on proficiency in English (GMAT or TOEFL test), on professional experience acquired, letters of recommendation, interviews, already validated diplomas and transcripts, etc.

The concept of MBA has “widened” and now designates many variants of the original training. Several forms of MBA are available, which are divided into three main families:

  1. Executive MBA
  2. Generalist MBAs
  3. Specialized MBAs

The EMBA, Executive Master of Business Administration, is aimed at senior executives and engineers who already have significant experience in their respective fields and particularly in business.

In theory, you need a minimum of a bachelor degree and several years of professional experience. But, unfortunately, some MBA business schools accept candidates who have just graduated, which distorts the training.

MBAs can be of the part-time type, that is to say spread over two years. Or they can be full-time when the training does not exceed one year. Many universities and colleges offer online or distance learning MBAs.

Choosing the Right Program for You

Even if it is a good investment, taking an MBA can be expensive and the price range is wide depending on whether you follow the training in Europe or the United States, and depending on your reputation and prestige of the business school you choose.

Criteria to help you make the right choice can include:

  • the different accreditations: AACSB, American accreditation, Equis, European accreditation, and AMBA, English accreditation
  • course features, such as the ability to study online or year-round
  • how well the subject options match your preferences
  • tuition fees
  • whether the course has an academic style or is more focused on project work
  • the reputation of the various establishments offering MBAs.

Major recognized newspapers rank providers according to various criteria, such as: the team of research professors, the quality of the programs, the partnerships with large groups, the network of former students who have become decision-makers and who promote the recruitment of people from the same business school, career development following graduation (promotion, salary increase), etc.

Advantages of the MBA Over Other Masters

The advantage of MBAs lies in the internationalization of studies, with many courses in English and professors and foreign students of all nationalities.

The MBA also delivers a solid knowledge of management and increases your skills in various fields as well as your ability to take on responsibilities. Unlike the MS (Specialized Masters), the MBA is a generalist course.

But many specialized MBAs have emerged in recent years. They meet the demand of companies in certain specific sectors such as luxury, food and hospitality, for example.

The MBA can give a good boost to a professional career. The more the diploma is obtained in a highly rated school recognized for the quality of its teaching, the more one can claim a high salary and positions of elevated responsibility.