What's an MBA?

Do you feel that you’ve reached a major crossroad in your life? Do you want change? Do you have that burning ambition to make a difference and have a tangible impact on your business and society? Then it seems you are ready to embark on a new adventure. 

You might even think about following an Executive MBA program. However, what is an Executive MBA and what kind of value does it offer to you? To help you determine if an MBA is the right step in your career path, we've provided all related information in three blogs:

What's an MBA

MBA stands for Master in Business Administration. It is a postgraduate degree specifically in business, management and global leadership. The program is developed for people who want a career in business management and who want to get to a higher level in the working hierarchy. An MBA is regarded as a very prestigious title. It covers management fundamentals as financial accounting, human resources management, marketing management, logistics and supply chain management, business planning and strategic leadership. Some programs also offer electives to further specialize and deepen the knowledge in a specific area or management topic.

MBA vs master's degree

The difference between an MBA and a master’s degree is that an mba is a study you do after you obtained your master’s degree and already have some professional experience; an mba is designed for professionals who already have several years of working experience and want to improve in business management. An MBA is a very specific high-level course that helps you:

  • specialize in Business Administration
  • train you in different general management fundamentals
  • prepare you for a career in an international sector.

A master’s degree is designed for recent graduates and very career specific such as a Master in Finance, Economics, Marketing,.. An MBA is designed for executives who want to improve their leadership skills and improve their knowledge in a variety of business topics. They want to get higher up the ladder in their career or make a big career switch. A master is for recent graduates or with up to 2 years of experience who want to kick-start their career.

What types of MBA are there?

As an MBA program is designed for people who already have working experience, there are different types of MBA depending on the time you can invest in it:

Traditional Full-time MBA

The most common type of MBA is the full-time MBA program. This type is usually a program of 2 years, classes are organized throughout the week and you follow a normal academic calendar. It is offered by business schools and designed for professionals with a specific small amount of working experience.

Part-time professional MBA

This type of MBA is for professionals who want to combine their work with a study and cannot attend classes throughout the whole week. These programs give options of following classes during the evening or in weekends. This type of MBA also has stricter admissions requirements as it also demands such a flexibility.

Executive MBA

An Executive MBA or EMBA is for professionals who already have a proven working experience on an executive / managerial level. It is designed for professionals who want to combine study & work, but can also get an agreement with their company to get some days off to follow classes. It also asks for some flexibility and on average takes 2 to 3 years to graduate, depending on how much time you can take for it.

Global MBA

Global MBA programs really focus on the global aspect of the study. It demands the freedom and will to travel, to immerse yourself in different cultures and in that way, to get a global mindset in the business world. It has a full-time course load and is developed for execs from all over the world. 

What is the difference between an MBA and a PhD?

First of all there is a difference in time spent. An MBA takes on average 2 years to graduate, while a PhD is a study of 3 to 4 years. Next to that, the studies have a different goal. While an MBA is designed to improve your business and general management skills, a PhD is a research oriented study with the result of being able to teach at university or really dive into a research subject related to your company.

During a PhD you can apply research skills to a contemporary business problem in your industry or workplace. An MBA is a broader general management study whereas a PhD is very specified and oriented towards a research object and a specific business topic. An MBA prepares you for a managerial function in the business world, a PhD prepares you for an academic career: research position or teaching in the academic world. Instead of focusing on the practical side of business and get those skills, the PhD focuses on the science of it.

What are alternatives for an MBA?

Of course, an MBA asks for an investment of time and money. What are the other options if you want to take the next step in your career but do not have the time or money needed to follow an MBA?

Specific MSc degree

You can choose to follow a specific master’s degree in the field of your interest and aligned with your career path. You can choose to follow a Business Master’s program that will be more theoretical than an MBA. There is a large offer in business master degrees, divided by function (finance, marketing, logistics, etc), industry or region. Many business schools also offer a Master in Management. They also educate students in general management but are shorter (1 year), do not require working experience and are more theoretical.


If you want to move up to a specific function in your company, specific knowledge is required. You can therefore also choose to get a certification in order to be prepared for this function, such as CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), CPA (Certified Public Accountant), CMA (Certified Management Accountant).

Consulting job

But maybe you are not interested in going back to university but still want to improve your business & management skills? Well, there are also options in the working environment. You can choose for a consulting job where you get the opportunity to work in different companies and in that way improve your business skills in different industries. Some companies nowadays also offer graduate programs with which they give job starters the possibility to rotate through different departments. That’s a good way to broaden your skills, get more experience and get a better view on what kind of business role you would like to have.

Start your own business

A last but also very good and rewarding option, is to start your own business. As an entrepreneur you get to face a lot of challenges and you will need to react, learn and adapt very quickly. On top of that, you will have a lot of responsibility from the start.

What is an executive MBA?

An executive MBA is different from a full-time MBA in the design, admissions and goal. An executive MBA is designed specifically for experienced professionals who want to combine their job with a study, so the program will be flexible and adapted to their schedule. Classes will be organized during evenings and/or during the weekend. A full-time MBA is designed for students who also have work experience but who have the possibility or will to spend most of their time on their studies.

The admission requirements also differ: an executive MBA will demand more years of experience and a higher job function. A full-time MBA is targeted at people at the beginning of their career so the required years of working is lower. Another difference is the goal of getting the MBA degree. People starting an executive MBA already have quite some working experience but want an extra challenge, update their current knowledge and get it to a higher level and increase the options they have in their career. People starting a full-time MBA are mostly working for a few years and have the ambition to climb up the ladder in the business.