A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a professional graduate degree which instructs students in the theoretical and practical knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully control, lead, manage, plan, organize, and adapt to ever-changing, complex, specific and/or general, domestic and global business environments, organizations, relationships, and situations. Moreover, MBA programs normally extend beyond only teaching business fundamentals and disciplines and into developing what some refer to as "soft" skills. That is, an MBA education develops students' respective analytical, communication, leadership, broadly defined, interpersonal, networking, and teamwork skills, as well as the abilities to anticipate and adapt to change, make effective use of various technologies, and operate within a globalized economic structure. MBA programs in Canada vary in duration from 10 months to over 2 years but because their respective structures and curriculums vary widely a universally applicable description of what precisely a student will learn is impossible. However, MBA programs fall within three categories including the generalized, specialized, and combined.
A generalized, sometimes referred to as a generic, general management, or traditional, MBA program exposes a student to the management knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully operate within and among a variety of different areas of business. Generalized degrees are typically 2 years in length. The first year is devoted to the study of a basic core of business fundamentals that usually includes Business Strategy Analysis, Financial and Managerial Accounting, Management Statistics and Data Analysis, Managerial Economics, Marketing Management, Managerial Finance, Managing Organizations, and Operations Management. The second year either delves deeper into general management or an area of concentration as chosen by the student among the options offered by his/her program.
Specialized MBA degrees are often 1 year or less in duration and offer an individual the opportunity to hone his/her knowledge of and abilities in a specific area or aspect of business thus developing the skills that are required by and for a particular field, industry, or sector. Some schools, such as Simon Fraser University, also offer customized MBA programs developed in accordance with the needs of specific companies. The latter type of specialized programs, sometimes referred to as "Corporate MBAs," however, is usually only available to employees of the company for which the MBA is tailor-made.
Combined MBA programs, which are often up to 4 years long, enable students to simultaneously earn a degree in Business and another discipline, including Agriculture, Arts, Engineering, Law, and Medicine, among others. The MBA portion of a combined degree may be either generalized or specialized depending upon the program's structure. There is no definitive answer regarding which type of MBA degree is more beneficial to individuals in achieving their respective goals. Some employers, for instance, favour individuals who can manage in a variety of different areas and, in such cases, prefer someone with a general management degree. Therefore, before committing to a program, you may want to inquire as to which type of degree the potential employers within the industry or sector in which you aim to work after graduation prefer. Possessing an MBA, however, has the potential to open up many new career opportunities within the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. An MBA, especially a generalized one, has the capacity to be a versatile degree enabling an individual to enter into new and diverse fields or move between different areas within a specific company and/or field. For example, an individual may switch employment from data analyst to marketing consultant to business strategist. Furthermore, despite being traditionally seen as a degree to advance one's aspirations within business, an MBA can open up career opportunities in numerous other areas. MBA graduates may, for instance, become educators in post-secondary institutions where a doctorate degree is not necessary, media analysts, researchers, or pursue doctorate-level studies, among others.
The exact form, content, and opportunity a program affords a learner differ from program to program and school to school. Some programs, for instance, like those offered at the Universities of McMaster and Windsor, afford comprehensive cooperative learning and are targeted at individuals with minimal work experience while Queen's University focuses on a specialized MBA designed for individuals interested in science and technology. Thus, depending on what an individual wants in and from a program, he/she may be limited in his/her choices of schools and locations in which to study.
In sum, an MBA is a professional degree designed to equip students with the specific and/or general knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to advance one's career aspirations in business and beyond. Typically, to be considered for admission to an MBA program in Canada, an applicant should possess a 4-year undergraduate degree, a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score, work experience, and, for international applicants whose primary language of education is not English, a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score. Each individual school establishes the specifics of the aforementioned admissions criteria, as well as any other prerequisites.