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An MBA is deemed the top of business education, offering immediate credibility and proving to employers and clients that you’re dedicated to and passionate about your profession.

That’s indisputable. The real question is: How hard is it to get an MBA?

Obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) isn’t without challenges, but it also comes with just as many benefits.1 Whether you’re a business professional, a college senior, or searching for a new career, earning your MBA degree is more manageable if you’re aware of the difficulties before you hop back into student mode.

Here’s what to expect when obtaining your MBA degree—and how to overcome any obstacles like a pro.

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Admission Requirements and Challenges

B-schools (as they’re colloquially called) are discerning. Business school data indicates that the nation’s leading graduate business programs accept 6% to 20% of applicants.2 This MBA admission data isn’t meant to deter you; rather, it should inspire you to persevere and strive to succeed wherever you are now on your academic or professional journey as an MBA student.

In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, many business schools require an MBA applicant to have:3

  • Satisfactory standardized test scores – MBA candidates must take one of two standardized tests: the GMAT or the GRE.4 While the GMAT may be ideal for demonstrating the analytical skills needed in MBA programs, both are widely accepted. Select which MBA applicant test to take based on your target schools’ admission requirements.
  • Work experience – Work experience is a crucial factor in the graduate school decision process, showcasing your ability to lead and collaborate. The amount of experience you must have depends on the type of MBA you intend to pursue.5 An Executive MBA program, for example, may ask for 5+ years in a professional capacity. Again, your best bet is to gain a thorough understanding of your dream schools’ admission requirements as early as possible.

Additionally, MBA admission requirements include letters of recommendation, a curricula vitae (CV), an essay, and proof of English proficiency.

Rigorous Academic Curriculum

Acceptance to an MBA program is an enormous feat, but it’s just the start of your postgraduate academic career.

Whether you’re sold on becoming a financial analyst, an investment banker, or a project manager, MBA programs prepare students for the rigors of their chosen profession through a comprehensive and exacting academic curriculum.

What does an MBA teach you? Understanding this helps illuminate how the program prepares students for real-world business challenges.

The graduate school subjects you’ll concentrate on—and the skills you’ll ultimately accrue—will depend on the type of MBA you’re after. Generally speaking, however, you’ll likely take courses in:

  • Marketing
  • Human resources
  • Accounting
  • Financial management
  • Business law
  • Statistics 
  • Leadership
  • Business ethics

Adequately answering “How hard is it to get an MBA?” is also contingent on your specialization, should you choose one. An MBA in Corporate Finance, Information Systems and Technology, Leadership, Supply Chain Management, Hospitality Management, and Marketing and Digital Trends are all possibilities; each comes with distinct challenges.6

That said, where there’s passion, there’s almost always a way.

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Time Commitment and Balancing Act

Earning an MBA requires anywhere between one and five years to finish, depending on whether you enroll as a full-time or part-time student, or elect to enroll in an accelerated MBA program.7

The number of required credits also plays into this. Alliant International University, for example, offers a 36-credit MBA program, which requires roughly 16 months across eight terms.

Fortunately, many programs offer tremendous flexibility, enabling MBA graduate students to attend courses at night and providing remote, on-campus, and hybrid options. What’s more, there are dozens of ways to achieve balance between your work obligations and academic responsibilities without succumbing to overwhelm, namely by:8

  • Discussing your decision to pursue an MBA with your boss or Human Resources Manager, who may be willing to adjust your schedule (and the expectations of you) accordingly
  • Setting time aside—say, at night or on the weekends—specifically for your coursework
  • Establishing a support system, not only to buoy you during stressful times but also to manage your loved ones’ expectations of you

Remember this: The stress you experience will be temporary, but the MBA graduate degree you’ll earn will be forever.

Financial Investment and Return

Higher education—particularly at the graduate level—naturally requires a financial investment. Tuition, books, additional fees, living expenses, and, for those who choose to take a hiatus from work and focus entirely on their studies, the “opportunity cost” of missing out on earnings all add up.

The emphasis here, though, should be on investment. In this case, it’s your future. Many prospective students wonder, “What can you do with an MBA?” as they contemplate the diverse career opportunities an MBA unlocks.

From honed leadership skills to refined strategic thinking, students usually walk away from MBA programs with the capacity to offer significantly more knowledge and experience to their current or prospective employer. In fact, a survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that a mere 7% of MBA alums claimed they “probably” or “definitely” wouldn’t have pursued the degree if they knew then what they know now.9

In other words, an MBA is viewed as incredibly worthwhile.

Even more promising? There are a host of ways to curb the economic burden of an MBA, primarily through continuing to work while pursuing your degree and requesting tuition assistance from your employer, as well as through:10

  • Fellowships
  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Work-study programs

Networking and Professional Development

An MBA doesn’t just supply its graduates with the finely tuned leadership and management skills required to thrive in a business environment. It also furnishes candidates with vital training in one of the most important aspects of business: Networking.

Building key professional relationships is imperative to success. MBA programs equip students with indispensable soft skills training that will help them navigate these connections with confidence, such as:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Negotiating acumen

While you could consider learning these skills as part of your tuition, it’s also up to you, as the student, to take advantage of the chance to put your knowledge to task in real-life scenarios. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to sharpen your networking skills during and after your MBA, including joining professional organizations, finding a mentor, and participating in an internship.11

Graduation and Career Pathways

Whether you plan to leverage your MBA to apply for a promotion within your present company or hope to secure a C-suite position in a global organization, nearing the conclusion of your MBA is ripe with excitement.

But what must you do to complete your MBA?

This varies by school. In some cases—and in addition to the coursework in your program and specialty—you may also have to participate in hands-on training, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Designed to help students polish up the skills they’ve acquired and apply their knowledge outside of the classroom, it may involve client projects and supervised training (depending, again, on the institution).

Consider it the perfect segue between theory and practice, and an enlightening exercise before you explore fresh opportunities or a new career, such as that of a:12

  • Management consultant
  • Medical manager
  • IT manager

Given the sheer number of MBA specialties available, the sky is limitless.

Exploring the benefits of an MBA reveals how the degree can be a transformative investment in your future.

Explore a Graduate Degree in Business at Alliant International University

Earning an MBA grants graduates an elevated status in the world of business. Moreover, it gives students a deeply rewarding, in-depth education that will last them a lifetime.

Alliant International University offers candidates the opportunity to hold these impressive initials after their name. The MBA in San Diego program was created with the modern student in mind in a format that includes both on-campus and online learning. With an array of program concentrations ranging from IT to Marketing and Digital Trends—plus an eye-opening Executive-in-Residence program and gifted instructors invested in their students’ success—you can enter the business world with confidence.

Alliant International University also offers business programs crafted to give you enhanced knowledge and a global perspective—instruction that will serve you well as you dive deeper into your field of interest.

Request more info today to set yourself on your way to your dream career.


  1. Team, The “What Is an Mba? All about the MBA Degree and MBA Programs.” What Is an MBA Degree? MBA Programs and What MBA Stands For, November 6, 2023.…. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  2. LaBalle, Candy Lee. “Thinking about an Mba? Here’s How to Plan for It.” Harvard Business Review, October 11, 2021. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  3. What is an Mba? (plus benefits, types and courses) |, February 3, 2023. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  4. Consulting, Stacy Blackman. “GMAT vs GRE for MBA Applicants: What’s The Right Strategy?” Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting, January 3, 2024. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  5. Nugent, Thomas. “What Are the Entry Requirements for an MBA?” BusinessBecause, February 13, 2024. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  6. Team, The “What Are the Most Popular MBA Specializations?” Start Your MBA or Business Master’s Journey Here, August 30, 2022.…. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  7. Sierra, Horacio. “How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA? Everything You Should Know.” Forbes, February 5, 2024.…. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  8. 10 tips for getting an MBA while working |, February 3, 2023.…. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  9.  Daugherty, Greg. “Which Mbas Offer a Good Return on Investment?” Investopedia, January 4, 2023.… . Accessed February 12, 2024.
  10. Weintraub, Arlene. 6 options to cut the cost of an Mba, March 26, 2018.…. Accessed February 12, 2024.
  11. 2011-2024, (c) Copyright “How an MBA Program CAN HELP YOU Network Effectively and Land a Good Job.” SkillsYouNeed. Accessed February 13, 2024. 
  12. Kowarski, Ilana, and Sarah Wood. 6 hot jobs for MBA graduates | Top Business Schools | U.S. news, April 23, 2023.…. Accessed February 12, 2024.

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