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How Many Credits Does It Take to Get an MBA?

by Nick Robinson

The desire for career advancement and extra income drives many professionals to pursue higher education in business. Business degrees vary in quality and difficulty according to each school's faculty, degree requirements and reputation. However, most business schools have similar graduation requirements in terms of number of credits required.

Total Credit Requirements

The total number of credits required to earn an MBA varies from school to school, but most programs require between 48 and 62 credits. At opposite ends of that range, the University of Redlands requires only 48 credits, while the University of Utah requires 62 credits. Students at both schools can complete their degrees in about 24 months, however. The difference in the number of credits may reflect how each school counts credits rather than how much work is required to complete the degree.

Core Requirements

Most MBA programs divide their degree requirements between core classes and elective classes. All students must take certain core classes to earn a degree. Core classes introduce students to essential business concepts and practices such as finance, accounting, leadership and applied economics. The University of California and the University of Colorado at Denver, for example, each require courses in data analysis and strategic leadership. Schools often use slightly different names for their core courses, but the basic topics of each class are generally the same. These classes usually amount to about half of the total number of required credits. For instance, the University of Kansas requires 52 total credits, 27 of which are from core courses.

Elective Requirements

In addition to core courses, students must also select and pass a certain number of electives. Elective credits typically account for the other half of a student's total credits. At the University of Utah, students take 33 core credits and 24 elective credits. At the University of California, elective credits account for about 60 percent of every student's total requirements. Elective courses allow students to focus their studies on the topics most interesting or relevant to their individual career paths.

Specialization Requirements

Some business schools offer students the opportunity to specialize their degree by pursuing a particular area of concentration. Requirements vary by school, but students specializing in given field usually have to take about 10 credits in that field. Wayne State University, for example, offers 12 areas of concentration. Students have to take nine credits in one concentration to earn their degree. Popular concentrations include accounting, leadership, finance and marketing.

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