Get Your MBA in the US

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By Oshitha Narangoda
Last updated on August 10, 2023

With an MBA from a top-ranked US university, you can build global connections and set the foundation for a successful business career anywhere in the world.

A female international student sitting at a long wooden table holds a cell phone in front of a laptop while she studies for her MBA program

Nearly half of the top 100 MBA programs are from US universities, according to the Financial Times 2021 Global MBA Rankings. Studying for an MBA in the US will open doors to a world of business opportunities for you, both in your home country and globally. If you are planning to pursue an MBA in the US, read on to learn about the types of MBA programs, how to apply, career opportunities after graduation, and more.

What Is an MBA Degree in the US?

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a graduate business degree designed to help students develop various skills and learn core concepts required for careers in business and management. MBA courses can be theoretical or offer practical training. Generally, the duration of an MBA degree is one to two years. Some MBA programs may require at least one year of work experience as a prerequisite to enroll. 

What Are MBA Concentrations and Specializations?

In addition to the standard core MBA curriculum, students can focus on MBA specializations to acquire expertise in a specific area of business. Getting an MBA with an in-demand specialization can boost your chances of getting promotions in your career. 

According to the Princeton Review, the most in-demand MBA specializations are:

  • Consulting

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Finance

  • General

  • International

  • Marketing

  • Operations

  • Strategy

When looking at MBA courses, it is important to take your time and do your research to pick the specialization that suits your needs best. While some universities require MBA students to choose a concentration or specialization, it is not always mandatory. 

What Are the Types of MBA Programs in the US?

MBA programs at US universities tend to fall into seven different categories:

  1. Full-time MBA: The full-time MBA, also known as the traditional MBA, includes a full course load and is typically 60 credit hours. A traditional full-time MBA takes one to two years to complete.

  2. Part-time MBA: Unlike the full-time MBA program, a part-time MBA has a flexible schedule and allows you to take classes either in the evening or on the weekend. It is ideal for those who want to work and study at the same time.

  3. Executive MBA (EMBA): An executive MBA is designed for upper management or experienced professionals who want to advance their careers and enhance their leadership and managerial skills.  

  4. Dual MBA: A dual MBA is a fast-track program, allowing applicants to complete an additional master’s degree in a different field and to pursue an MBA at the same time. For example, if you want to study public health and move into managerial or administrative positions, you can earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) simultaneously.

  5. Accelerated MBA: An accelerated MBA helps students complete their program faster. Unlike the traditional MBA, an accelerated MBA will take twelve to fifteen months to complete. It covers the full course load of the full-time MBA. An accelerated MBA program is also known as a one-year MBA program.

  6. Global MBA: A Global MBA program is similar to a full-time MBA degree, with a focus on core international business concepts. To achieve this international perspective, Global MBA programs typically enroll a diverse student body, with students from all over the world. 

  7. Online MBA: Online MBA programs are digital-first MBA courses, and can offer flexibility and affordability compared to traditional programs. Most online MBA programs are fully online, while some may require the student to follow a portion of the course at a university-affiliated learning center.

Why Should I Apply for an MBA in the US?

The first MBA program in the world was offered in the US, at Harvard Business School in 1908. With a rich history in MBA programs, many universities in the US welcome international students and offer a wide range of accredited MBAs. 

After completing your MBA in the US, you are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). You can get an internship or a full-time job in the US for a maximum of 12 months after earning your MBA. During the MBA program, some universities provide students with opportunities to gain real-world experience with companies in the US and build global connection through co-op and internship programs.

How Should I Apply for an MBA Admission in the US?

Depending on which university and MBA program you apply to, the requirements can vary. Here is a general step-by-step process you can keep in mind. For more detailed information, refer to our guide for international students on how to study in the US.

  1. Research and compare MBA programs: Write down the goals you want to achieve with an MBA. Research the universities and various MBA programs that may be a good fit by visiting their websites and reaching out to university representatives. You can also work with an enrollment counselor for help researching MBA courses.

  2. Take the MBA exams: Depending on your MBA program, you will have to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GMAT and GRE measure your critical thinking, analytical writing, and quantitative skills. For more information, read our guides on taking the GMAT and GRE.

  3. Meet the English language requirements: As an international student applying to a university in the US, you have to take English language tests to demonstrate your proficiency in English. This includes speaking, writing, and reading. The most common standardized English language tests that most US universities accept are TOEFL and IELTS.

  4. Gather necessary documentation: For MBA admission, you may be required to submit documents such as academic transcripts, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. If you have at least two to three years of professional experience, you can include your work experience certificates or letters. The documents required may vary depending on the university you are applying to, so remember to read up on specific details or directly contact a university representative if you have any questions.

  5. Apply for an F-1 visa: After getting accepted to an MBA program, the next step is to apply for your F-1 visa (a type of student visa issued for non-immigrants). Refer to our step-by-step guide to US visas for international students to take a closer look at the process.

What Are the Career Opportunities for an MBA Graduate?

With an MBA, you will have built a diverse skill set that is valued across many industries and makes you eligible for a wide range of career opportunities. This results in good earning opportunities, too: the average MBA salary for US graduates rose 5.8% from $127,603 to $134,991, according to the MBA industry publication Poets & Quants.

Some professions that MBA graduates can pursue (depending on specialization) include business operations manager, database administrator, financial analyst, financial manager, HR manager, management consultant, marketing manager, medical and health services manager, and many more.

What Types of MBA Courses Can I Study in the US?

MBA programs are not all alike. Depending on your interests and professional goals, you can combine an MBA with a specific industry (like health care) or even get a law degree at the same time. Here are a few possibilities for MBA courses in the US.* 

Adelphi University—Adelphi’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business is ranked one of the top 25 business schools in New York state, according to Top Management Degrees. Adelphi provides eight specializations for MBA students, including sports management.

American University—Nearly one-quarter of the 2019 MBA class at American University are international students. Situated in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, American offers MBA students opportunities such as networking, internships, and jobs in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. AU’s Global Experience program allows MBA students to participate in global economies, and public-private consortium work.

Auburn University—Auburn offers dual degrees in finance, industrial and systems engineering, or information systems to MBA candidates. If you are a full-time MBA candidate, you can attain a second graduate degree with one to two additional semesters. Online MBA candidates can also pursue a dual degree. The Harbert College of Business offers multiple MBA programs including the Physicians Executive MBA, which focuses on training for health care management careers.

Auburn University at Montgomery—Auburn University at Montgomery offers an Accelerated MBA program to complete your graduate degree in as few as three semesters. Apart from the MBA, the university also offers a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA) for planning, marketing, and providing high-quality health care services. The MHA is helpful for those who want to advance within a health care organization or change career paths through an entry-level management position in the industry. 

Cleveland State University—Apart from standard MBA programs offered by CSU, the Online Accelerated MBA program helps students complete their MBA in just one year. CSU offers an MBA in Healthcare Administration for students interested in understanding how management and medicine work together to achieve superior patient care. CSU also offers the MBA/Juris Doctor (JD) joint degree program for students to complete both degrees over four years (instead of completing the two degrees separately over five years).

University of Dayton—In addition to general MBA programs, the University of Dayton offers a Bachelor’s Plus Master’s Program (BPM), allowing students to complete a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at an accelerated pace — a plus for those interested in saving money or who simply want to enter the workforce faster. The University of Dayton also offers an MBA/Juris Doctor (JD) joint degree program for those who want to earn a law degree while also getting graduate-level training in business, administration, management, and economics.

University of Illinois ChicagoRanked #65 by U.S. News & World Report, the MBA program offered by UIC Liautaud Graduate School of Business concentrates on accounting, business analytics, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, international business, management, marketing, and many more specializations. The university also offers a self-directed option for students to customize their plan of study to reflect their own career goals.

UMass Boston—The streamlined 12-course MBA program at UMass Boston can be completed online or on campus. You have the option of customizing your MBA with 11 specializations including environmental management and nonprofit management. 

University of South Carolina—UofSC’s Darla Moore School of Business offers three outstanding MBA programs, including the International MBA, ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. International MBA students can also pursue a STEM-designated Business Analytics Graduate Certificate for additional credentials, and students can choose one of two tracks: language track (with language training for local markets) or global track (for an international experience that builds multinational and cultural expertise). 

With an MBA from a US university, you can enhance your resume and stand apart from the crowd. While it may take time to find the MBA program that suits your needs best, it will be a rewarding experience and strong investment in your future. 

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*Not all Global or International Accelerator programs may include an MBA degree. For specific details about the MBA program that interests you, please reach out to a Shorelight advisor.