The MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree is the worlds best known and most widely recognized post graduate degree. It is a professional degree - in that it is intended for those who work in business and management i.e., the intention of a program leading to an MBA is to prepare or further prepare individuals for responsible positions in business - usually managerial positions. MBA programs are run throughout the world, as they are seen to be relevant for the preparation of people for work in management irrespective of the industry, business sector, the nature of the economy, etc.
In fact the degree is a bit of a misnomer.The MBA degree title has always been used in the USA - where it was first developed, but not always in other countries. In the UK for example - where Post Graduate degree level management education only began to develop from the late 1960s the title was not initially used. For example the main schools at that time used the MSc and MA degree titles. From around 1980 however most established programs around the world had adopted the MBA title. There are of course programs which look very much like what other Schools would call an MBA - which still lead to degrees with other titles. Such titles include MBL (Master of Business Leadership - predominantly in S. Africa), MBS (Master of Business Studies), MSc and MA as well as more specialist degrees e.g., Master of Finance. Often such programs are seeking deliberately to differentiate themselves from other programs
Since the inception of the MBA program in the USA in the early 1900s - but especially since the more widespread adoption of MBA programs in other parts of the world - the MBA program has been in a state of continual innovation and change. Initially most programs were full time and of two years duration, but now there is a wide range of program structures and durations. The two year full time program or its equivalent is still common in the USA and certain other countries - e.g. Spain. The initial argument to support the belief that two years was an appropriate length related to the amount that needs to be covered in a general management - i.e. a wide based program. This view was never fully supported in some countries - where it was argued - that those entering programs had a higher level of education and had had more exposure to business topics in their first degrees. So - in the UK for example - whilst both the London and Manchester Business Schools which were set up in the late 1960s started with two year full time MBAs - all of the other Schools in the country at that time offered 1 year programs. Now in the UK the one year program is the norm and the previous two year programs have been reduced somewhat - at least for some types of candidate. In France - INSEAD -the international (rather than French) School has always run a 1 year program, despite being modelled on American lines
In general there have been three trends which have characterised the development of MBA programs in the last 20 years -
A trend to shorter programs - as indicated above. This has been driven also by competitive factors - since as more good but shorter programs have become available even though they may have been possible only because of special circumstances or intended for special types of candidates only - the other major schools have found it increasingly difficult to main intakes etc on much longer, and also probably more expensive programs.
A greater diversity, especially of types of program, i.e., different program structures; e.g., part time, modular, consortium, international, joint, etc. (see Glossary for the definition of these terms), but also of program purpose - i.e., programs aimed at different groups of people - whether in different business sectors, or people of different age groups.
An increasing internationalization of programs and program provision. This is evident in the internationalization of the content - i.e., the curriculum of programs - a development which has resulted from the increasing internationalization of business plus the fact that more managers are now engaged, or expect to be engaged in international roles. The internationalization of provision has been driven by the increasing demand for programs - thus MBAs are now offered worldwide - to satisfy local markets.
It follows from much of the above that there is no such thing as 'the MBA program' but rather a vast range of different types of program. This makes the matter of choice both very difficult and very important. Some advice on how to choose a School and an MBA program is given on other pages in this section. Here it is sufficient to note that your choice should be influenced by two main considerations - your needs and your circumstances. Potential MBA program participants will want to be clear about what they want to gain from a program - in terms of the skills or competences they wish to develop, whilst also being clear about what is feasible and appropriate for them - e.g., to fit their budget, time availability, location, etc.
Programs differ enormously in what they offer, the type of experience they provide, their cost, accessibility, duration etc .**************************