What is an MBA?

If you are engaged in the modern business world you will have almost certainly encountered the Master of Business Administration, or more commonly known as the MBA before.

These three letters globally represent a postgraduate degree that empowers and provides those who possess the qualification with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead and manage organisations. But what does the degree actually entail and how does one come to learn such a broad range of essential business skills in such a relatively short time?

Business man

Types of MBA:

Here at the University of Adelaide, we offer a whole suite of MBA’s tailored to people’s experience and interests.  These MBA’s are broken down into three categories: Post-experience, Pre-experience and Specialisations. Each of these programs target separate population segments and aim to deliver substantially different results.

Our flagship program, the Adelaide Master of Business Administration program is a post experience MBA aimed at individuals who have already started their careers and have a few years’ worth of experience under their belts. This model of MBA, draws on the benefits of specialised industry experience to help students further refine the skills and knowledge they have developed over the course of their undergraduate studies and careers. This can be incredibly beneficial for individuals who have previously studied non-business related degrees looking to progress into a management role and has also been largely successful for professionals who are looking to break into a different industry, providing them with the confidence and general business knowledge take on their next challenge.  

For students wishing to make the leap straight from an undergraduate degree, to a MBA without the need for industry experience, a pre-experience MBA is often the chosen path. The Master of Business Administration Emerging Leaders program at the University of Adelaide is specifically geared towards those individuals who are keen to build on their undergraduate knowledge and acquire the skills and tools necessary to fast track their career into leadership role. This program also provides an opportunity for students to engage with and be mentored by previous MBA alumni, facilitating strong networks and relationship building skills early on in their career.

Finally, a number of MBA programs offer students the opportunity to specialise in a specific subject area and can be advantageous if you have a clear focus on the direction you want to push your career. The Master of Business Administration Specialisations build upon the foundation learnings from the MBA Emerging Leaders program, ensuring general skills across accounting, management and marketing are gained. The University offers a range of specialisations across Wine Business, Entrepreneurship, Project Management, International Trade and Development, and Marketing.


At the core of most MBA programs is a set curriculum of primary subjects that must be completed by all students. These courses are selected as they effectively cover a wide range of topics that need to be understood by any successful manager in the modern workforce. Accounting, economics, finance, leadership, and marketing are all frequently included in this selection of core courses. Additionally, electives are frequently available to tailor the program to an individual’s personal interests or career goals.

The courses offered, may be supplemented by offering students the opportunity to complete internships, study tours, exchanges, or by offering personal mentoring. By undertaking these additional opportunities, students are given the chance to further develop their skillsets and provide means of differentiating themselves from other MBA graduates.

Learning options:

Given that an MBA is a postgraduate program, the vast majority of institutes will offer a wide variety of flexible learning options for students to utilise. If you have the luxury of being able to take time away from work to return to study, or are planning to complete a pre-Experience MBA, you will likely be able to commit to full time study and complete your MBA in under a two year period.

Alternately, part-time study provides a happy middle ground between work commitments and studying. Whether it is weeknights, weekends, or intensive units, it is almost always possible to complete a MBA around the many external commitments that life may throw at you.

Finally, for those that may find face-to-face learning impossible, many institutions are now offering MBA programs through online learning, including here at the University of Adelaide where you can now undertake a 100% Online MBA, all on your own terms. This will provide huge amounts of freedom to tackle the program at your own pace; however, this sacrifices a wide array of benefits that come from learning in a classroom environment, and many professional bodies view online MBA’s less favourably than their in-person counterparts.  

There is so much more to an MBA than just 3 little letters behind somebody’s name. A postgraduate degree in MBA studies challenges people to look at themselves and their leadership style, apply complex concepts to real world problems and learn to lead with confidence. With an extensive suite of programs available, there is an MBA at the University of Adelaide to suit everyone, preparing you for the ever evolving challenges of leadership in the professional world. 

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We offer a range of business related degrees, enabling students to choose their own path and become career ready.

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