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What Is An MBA Student? A Definition

What is an MBA student?

An MBA program is a Masters in Business Administration, but don’t think that this is simply the postgraduate course of choice for those students who want to work for international corporations or to start their own businesses.

MBA programs include topics that cover every aspect of working in the world of business, from large scale organisations to small start-ups and working on your ideas.

An MBA is a popular choice for those students who are looking to improve their business acumen or entrepreneurial skills.

Let's take a look at some of the qualities of an MBA student.


How much business experience do you need?

Some students come to MBA programs with a great deal of experience and others are at the start of their careers. If this is you, then it’s a good idea to line up some relevant work experience before you start the course. This means you’ll have examples of what you are learning to draw upon when you are studying your MBA.

Areas of study

Many MBA programs are pure ‘Business Administration’, but most students will focus on a particular area.

Modules can include topics such as Strategic Management, Marketing, Human Resources, Global Economics and Financial Information & Analysis. Other areas of study can include Data Analytics, Entrepreneurship, Operations Management and Customer Relationships.

Do MBA students study online, part time or full time?

MBA programs can be studied fulltime, part time, online, or a combination of all three.

Many of the best MBA programs are run on a full-time on-campus basis, and this is because networking is an essential part of the MBA process and is ideally done in person.

Trying to make personal connections when networking is not easily done online but is not impossible. In fact, one of the few good things to have come out of the Coronavirus Pandemic is the vast improvements it has led to in online study and networking opportunities.

For those students who are planning on working and studying at the same time, there are lots of MBA programs that run on a part-time and/or online basis. This study method will often fit better around existing jobs and responsibilities however, part-time and/or online MBA students may find that they will have to put more effort into meeting other students compared to on-campus students.

Where are MBA students studying?

There are plenty of great business schools to study MBA programs all over the world.

Large universities – such as the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom or Harvard University in the USA – will have business schools or business faculties which the MBA program will be taught out of.

Smaller colleges or universities may not offer MBA programs, but instead may offer an MBA program taught at an affiliated business school.

In the UK, there are many universities that offer well-regarded MBA programs, such as the University of Edinburgh, London Business School, University of Manchester, University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

In the US some of the best MBA programs include Northwestern University, Columbia University and Yale University.

Many business schools around the world offer MBA programs taught in English, especially if they have a strong international emphasis such as INSEAD, Bocconi University and the HEC Paris School of Management.

Top 10 MBA programs

So, what are the top-rated MBA programs in the world?

This table shows the top 10 MBA programs worldwide according to recent rankings from the Financial Times.

Business School




London Business School


University of Chicago


IESE Business School


Yale School of Management


Northwestern University




HEC Paris


Duke University


Dartmouth College



What career plans do MBA students have?

An MBA is great for career advancement, especially as it promotes great leadership skills.

Many MBA students already have a wealth of experience working in relevant fields, and your fellow students will become your colleagues and friends of the future. For example, students at the University of Glasgow have an average of 10 years’ work experience before they start studying the MBA program.

Other students may have less work experience but are undertaking the MBA program because they are planning careers in major corporations, such as Amazon and IBM, or will go on to work in large or international organisations such as governmental bodies or NGOs.

The focus that most MBAs have on management expertise provides students with essential skills that are transferable to many different companies and organisations.

What type of MBA students are there?

On a typical MBA course there will be several types of students you are likely to encounter.

The Silent Worker – you barely realise this person is in your group because they hardly talk and rarely contribute to group activities. But when they do speak out, they make an invaluable contribution due to their insight and intelligence. Well, they do say you have to watch the quiet ones!

The Networker – their sole purpose is to find their next boss in the room. They can be charming (most of the time) and will talk to almost everyone as though they are giving a pitch, selling themselves every single time. They also are the ones who always like to add people on LinkedIn as they start asking for names/business cards.

The Smooth Operator – these are the people who will 'schmooze' their way to get information, and until you either give in or keep saying no, will continue to charm you.

The Topper – these people don’t need any introductions. They are the front-benchers. The ones who show up to class promptly, know all the answers, finish assignments on time and get straight ‘A’s on their submissions. Toppers can talk on any subject, can be hard working yet a socialite at the same time, and basically envied by everybody. If you think they are your competitors, you may want to keep them close!

The Lazy One – a complete opposite to the Toppers, these people are highly oblivious to the fact that they may have spent a fortune in doing an MBA degree. They will not always make it to class but try to make their presence known during heated topics. They may also fall behind on their assignments and give an impression that they do not care much about studies. Often, they will try and borrow your notes but interestingly enough, people do envy the carefree attitude of such people who mostly do get away by successfully completing the degree!


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