What to Study After Earning an MBA

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Graduate on road

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a graduate degree that provides professionals with an advanced level of business management knowledge and experience. An MBA program may focus on a specific field a professional hopes to enter, such as accounting, marketing, or finance. Employers consider the MBA quite desirable due to the degree holder’s expanded skill set, and the degree may increase one’s potential for upward career mobility. For example, as U.S. News & World Report notes, “an MBA degree is a popular stepping stone to C-suite jobs at large corporations, and it is also an asset for budding entrepreneurs.”

Looking to the future, many professionals may not know what to do or what to study after earning an MBA. Professionals actually have quite a range of post-MBA credentials to choose from, as outlined below.

Attainable Credentials Post-MBA

For professionals considering what to study after MBA programs, quite a few promising routes are likely to end in valuable credentials. For example, many MBA graduates choose to pursue certification or a doctorate.

Certification Programs

There are many post-MBA certification programs that can help to elevate a professional’s potential for career advancement. Chartered Financial Analyst, Project Management Professional, and Financial Risk Manager are three popular credentials MBA graduates may want to consider pursuing.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). The CFA program, run by the CFA Institute, is one way a professional can become a CFA charterholder. According to the CFA Institute, candidates must pass three CFA exams (Levels I, II, and III) sequentially. All exam levels are offered in June, with Level I also offered in December. While all CFA exams are in English, they are available in over 170 cities around the world. The first step in the exam process is to find a test center location.

Project Management Professional (PMP). Another highly regarded credential for business managers is the PMP certification. The PMP program is designed to elevate professional skills in several management disciplines: scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholder project management. According to the Project Management Academy, professionals need more than three years of project management experience and a 35-hour minimum project management education. There are more than 50 virtual classrooms across the country. To register, visit the Project Management Academy website.

Financial Risk Manager (FRM). According to GARP, a leading professional association for risk managers, the FRM credential is the foremost risk manager certification. To earn the FRM credential, professionals must “demonstrate the knowledge and ability to anticipate, respond, and adapt to critical risk issues,” as GARP notes. According to GARP, professionals with the certification are “consistently in demand by nearly every major bank and firm in the world.”

Doctor of Business Administration

Wondering what to study after an MBA? MBA graduates interested in conducting business research and expanding their knowledge even further may pursue a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). According to the Association of MBAs (AMBA), the DBA differs from the MBA in that instead of focusing on business content, the doctorate focuses on research to solve complex business problems. As Mark Stoddard, director of operations at AMBA, notes, a DBA program is about “developing innovators and change agents for a wide variety of organizations.”

After earning a DBA, one’s career options will depend on areas of specialization and research. For example, many professionals may choose to take the higher education route and become a teacher at a business school, a position that typically pays $65,070 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Alternatively, professionals may wish to pursue upper-management and executive positions, which can pay $104,980 annually, according to the BLS.

Advancing for the Future

Earning an advanced business degree, such as New Jersey Institute of Technology’s online master’s degree in business administration, is the beginning of a career path grounded in advanced skills and extensive knowledge. What to study after an MBA, whether certification or a doctorate, is based on a professional’s goal for the future. As such, elevated programs can help graduates strive for high-level positions in numerous industries.



Association of MBAs, “The DBA vs. The MBA: Which Is Right for You?”

CFA Institute, CFA Exam Information

CFA Institute, CFA Program, June Test Center Locations

CFA Institute, CFA Program, December Test Center Locations

GARP, Financial Risk Manager (FRM)

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Online Master of Business Administration

Project Management Academy, Contact Us For Your Training Needs

Project Management Academy, PMP Certification Training

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics: Business Teachers, Postsecondary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook: Top Executives

U.S. News & World Report, “What an MBA Degree Is and What You Need to Know”