A smiling MBA student.
A smiling MBA student.

When should you study an MBA?


Whatever your current career trajectory is, professional development and ongoing learning are crucial in the 21st-century workforce. If you want to stand out in today’s competitive job market, earning your Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a surefire way to get noticed.

It’s important to consider not only when to study an MBA but also whether you should take one that’s full-time or part-time to fit your schedule. To make an informed decision, it’s crucial to know the flexible study options available.

When in your career should you study an MBA? 

Until recently, most people’s careers were linear: they studied, joined a company in a junior position and moved up the ranks. Now, people have much more varied professional paths, with some data suggesting the average person has seven careers throughout their lifetime.

To ensure that you’re making the most of your career path, consider these times to pursue an MBA.

1. When you want to move into a leadership role

If you’ve been on the career treadmill and you’re looking to move into a senior or executive role, an MBA can help position you as an ideal candidate. Given the high value attributed to an MBA, graduates are well-positioned to convince senior management that they’re suited to a management role.

An MBA teaches not only important business and analytical skills but also the art and practice of leadership. This emphasis on leadership responds to the increasing need for leaders who can successfully navigate organisations through complex challenges. 

By completing an MBA, your resume will boast a credential shared by business leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg, who previously served as the chief operating officer (COO) of Meta (formerly Facebook) and is now one of its advisers, and Daniel H. Weiss, the former CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2. When you reimagine your future

If you’re seeking to resuscitate a stalling career, an MBA can be the perfect medicine. Whether your current position has plateaued or you’re hampered by organisational hierarchy, an MBA can improve your chance of future success.

An MBA not only opens doors to better career opportunities but also provides you with more diverse job options. The list of potential MBA careers is almost endless, including roles in project management, business development, HR, consulting, marketing and more.

Additionally, MBA students have the option to specialise their study in various areas, including finance, consulting and business administration. If you know you want to go deeper in a certain discipline, specialising can help open doors for your next career step.

3. When you want to change industries or departments

If a career change is in the air, an MBA can help you navigate uncharted waters. This qualification can build your capabilities across vast disciplines, including accounting and finance, human resources, supply chain management and sustainability. Also, the diverse professional makeup of MBA students creates unique networking opportunities and connections that can open new doors.

Networking can also be used as a strategy for a career change. An MBA not only lays the foundation to gain skills in a new discipline but also provides real-life experiences and networking opportunities across the globe. Networks offer three unique advantages: private information, access to diverse skill sets and power. These aspects can help propel you into your next career phase.

The good news is that career transitions are possible at any age: the ‘job for life’ mentality no longer dominates the job market and staying in one role for a long period of time has become less desirable.

4. When you want to earn a higher salary

When you earn an MBA, it is likely you will be able to boost your annual salary. According to SEEK, some of the most common careers MBA graduates can pursue include product manager, chief financial officer, IT manager and chief technology officer, all of which have annual average salaries ranging from $125,000 to $250,000. These figures represent a 22-61% growth from the average salary in Australia, which is $98,000.

Earning an MBA is a lifelong investment for your career. Employers agree that hiring MBA graduates adds value to their companies. According to Statista, consulting companies are particularly interested in MBA graduates, with 91 per cent of consulting employers hiring them in 2022.

5. When you can balance the MBA workload

Studying an MBA takes commitment and discipline in all aspects of your life. When your work, family and relationship commitments are in balance, you can be confident that you can roll up your sleeves and tackle an MBA.

Of course, there will be obstacles along the way, but the trick is to manage the workload by implementing an effective study plan. Take steps to achieve a healthy work-life balance, such as exercising regularly, scheduling downtime and getting enough sleep.

Studying an MBA doesn’t have to be daunting. When you study an MBA with VU Online, you will be supported every step of the way by our dedicated team, who can help you juggle your priorities and plan your time.

Which MBA is right for me?

Deciding when to study an MBA is only part of the question. If you complete an MBA while working, ask yourself some big questions: 

  • Can you commit to attending campus at set times? 
  • What is the duration of the course?
  • Can you afford to take time off work? 
  • How will you study an MBA while working and meeting family commitments? 
  • What’s the required time to complete a full-time or a part-time MBA? 

These are all important issues that require careful consideration to set you on the path to success.

Are on-campus and online MBAs different?

Both the on-campus and online MBAs at VU Online cover the same content, each with a strategic focus on real-world learning and preparing students with the skills to achieve their career aspirations.

Both VU MBAs are recognised as having a tier-one rating in CEO Magazine’s 2024 Global MBA Rankings, as well as for their excellent lecturers, small class sizes, student diversity, value for money and international study options.

When you graduate with an online MBA, you will graduate with the same qualification as an on-campus MBA student. In fact, your MBA certification at the end of the course won’t mention your study mode.

The only difference is that, at VU Online, specialist online learning designers have taken VU’s on-campus course and redesigned it for the online learning platform.

Is online or on-campus study right for me?

On-campus study can be an appealing option for students who can commute to the university and wish to experience classes in person. On-campus study is structured and requires students to follow specific timetables.

Online study, on the other hand, is a great option if you are looking for flexibility. Students can fit online study around their existing commitments, including work, family and personal commitments.

Online students can work from a computer, smartphone or other smart device: on the train during your commute, during your lunch break, at home or even while attending your children’s weekend sport. This course is open to domestic students who live across Australia or overseas.

Do I want to study full-time or part-time?

Most VU courses have options for either full-time or part-time study. For some students, full-time study can be an appealing option. This mode allows students to focus on classes without the distractions of full-time work. However, many students can’t afford to take time off work to attend classes in person. 

VU’s on-campus Master of Business Administration can be completed in 1.5 years full-time, or over three years if you wish to study part-time.

Part-time study can be appealing to students who need additional flexibility to work full-time or maintain personal commitments. Typically, part-time study takes longer than full-time study. However, this additional time may be less than you imagine. 

VU’s online MBA takes 24 months to complete part-time, just six months longer than the full-time commitment on campus. Accelerated online block units help students succeed because they aren’t spending time travelling to campus. Instead, students self-manage their study time and work it around their personal and professional commitments.

Full-time vs part-time MBA degree at VU

How much study will I need to do?

There are 12 units of study in VU’s MBA, regardless of whether you study face-to-face or online.

Many face-to-face students stop working and study four units at a time, with the year divided into two semesters, completing the degree in 18 months.

Online students continue to work full-time and take just one unit at a time over six study periods and complete the course in 24 months. Depending on your work commitments and how long you want to study, a part-time online course over a full-time MBA on campus may be the way to go.

The flexibility of the online MBA means that the study model can be adapted to suit your lifestyle. When your work or family life is especially busy, you can choose to reduce your study commitments to allow some breathing space.

How will I network?

For many students, studying full-time on campus is an exciting opportunity to engage with teachers face-to-face and build strong networks with fellow students. In the business world, these relationships can be both inspiring and strategic. There is also the comfort of being able to seek academic and peer support in person.

How does VU address this in the online course? VU Collaborate is true to its name, creating a hugely supportive, social and collaborative learning environment. What’s more, students’ learning cohorts will include future industry leaders from all around Australia and even the world. Chat sessions, online study groups and collaborative projects give students the opportunity to connect and learn from each other.

VU Collaborate also creates easy access to a dedicated VU Online support team. For every unit of study, each student receives personalised support and feedback from an academic facilitator. VU Online’s Student Success Advisors complement this support with practical and administrative advice for the duration of the course.

Choosing when to study an MBA

Studying an MBA is an investment in meeting your potential. At almost any stage of your career, it can help you develop critical skills and perspectives that enhance your employability and increase your prospects.

When preparing to take on a leadership role or change careers, it can open doors like no other degree.

Whenever you choose to do an MBA, VU has an option for you. Learn more about VU Online’s MBA today or contact VU Online’s enrolment team on 1300 682 051 to help you choose the best option.