A Master of Business Administration (or MBA) can lead to higher salaries and more career opportunities.

Start by defining your career goals when researching MBA programs. Next, determine the best programs for you and then create a plan to apply. Make sure you factor in the cost of your MBA to ensure that you are not in a financial bind.

Find the best MBA program that suits you

Research the school’s specialties before you commit to it. This will ensure that they are in line with your career goals. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (an association of graduate business schools), consulting, strategy, and general management were the most in-demand areas of interest for 2021. Find out which schools recruit and what metrics are related to student career outcomes after graduation.

You should also take into account your type of enrollment. There are many MBA programs that can be applied to different life stages.

  • Two-year full-time MBA. Ideal for career changers and those with limited work experience. According to GMAC, this is the most popular program in graduate business.

  • Full-time, one-year MBA. This program is best for people with work experience and a clear vision of their future career goals. This program can be either condensed or accelerated.

  • Part time MBA. Ideal for students who want to work while they earn their degree.

  • Online MBA. Online MBA is best for people who require the most flexibility in pursuing their MBA.

  • Executive MBA. Executive MBA is best for those with work experience, usually five years or more.

  • Mini-MBA. Ideal for people who aren’t sure if an MBA is right. These programs usually last one to three months and do not include a degree.

You can expect to spend between one and two years studying for your MBA. The type of program you choose will affect the length of your MBA journey and how much you will pay.

Meet the requirements of the MBA

There are different requirements for MBA admissions. They can differ depending on which type of program you choose and what business school you apply to. You can create a strong application by understanding the expectations of each school, as well as where your strengths and weaknesses are.

The general requirements for MBA admissions are:

  • Transcripts for undergraduates.

  • English language test scores for international students

  • GMAT score.

  • Short answers and personal essays.

  • Recommendations letters.

  • Interview (if requested).

Many graduate business programs accept applications in different rounds. These are the most popular application rounds:

  • Round 1: Due September or October

  • Round 2: Due December or January

  • Round 3: Due March or April

The school determines the number and type rounds. A school might also have an early decision deadline that allows you to apply early and withdraw any other applications if accepted.

Calculate your MBA salary and real MBA cost

Candidates who are interested in pursuing an MBA seek out a higher salary. The average MBA salary in the United States was $115,000 in 2022 — 53% more than the average bachelor’s salary. Many employers offer signing bonuses for recent MBA graduates. In 2022, the median signing bonus was $10,500. An MBA degree will increase your earning potential.

However, this potential salary rise can come at a high price.

According to Business Because (a subsidiary of Graduate Management Admissions Council), the average tuition cost for an MBA program in the United States was $148,978 in 2021.

The type of MBA and business school can have a significant impact on the cost. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business full-time MBA program is $167,748. Tuition and fees for the online MBA at University of Florida Warrington College of Business are closer to $59 807

Remember that tuition is only one cost of an MBA. You should consider other costs such as books and room and board for full-time MBA students.

Apply to financial aid

Maximize scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid when financing your graduate education. You can borrow for an MBA but you don’t need to repay it.

Some employers also offer tuition assistance programs that pay a portion of tuition. Even though it is rare, some companies like Deloitte offer tuition reimbursement. Be sure to check your employer benefits. Also, be sure to fully understand the stipulations such as the requirement to work for the company for at least two years after graduation.

You may not have exhausted all your options for free money. This gap can be filled by borrowing loans. Before applying for private MBA student loans, it is best to begin with federal loans. Federal loans offer benefits and protections that private loans do not have, such as income-driven repayment plans.

For information on the federal application for federal student aid (FAFSA) and to find out what loans or free aid you are eligible for, please click here.