4 Courses That Can Prepare You For An MBA

Although it’s common for professionals to decide they want to earn an MBA after spending a few years in the workforce, some people know they want that credential from the beginning of their academic careers.

In either case, coming into the MBA program with a rudimentary background in business concepts and principles ensures you have the knowledge and understanding necessary to keep up with graduate-level instruction. In fact, some MBA programs may require that you already have a minimum number of credits in particular subjects before you start taking classes.

If your undergraduate degree was in business or a business-related subject, chances are you’ve already met the requirements and can hit the ground running with your online MBA courses. If you majored in another subject, though, it might be worth taking a few courses through a continuing education or local community college in the following subjects to prepare you for your advanced degree.

4 Courses That Can Prepare You For An MBA

1. Quantitative Methods and Analysis

Regardless of your MBA specialization, you will have to take some type of quantitative or math course during the program. MBA programs specializing in marketing or management, for example, require students to take courses in statistics, financial analysis and accounting principles. If it’s been years since you’ve done any type of math, it might be worth enrolling in an introductory or review-type class through an extension program to brush up on your basic equations; in fact, if the programs you’re applying to require that you take the GMAT, consider taking a course in math review, algebra or calculus before you take the test to improve your score and chances of getting in.

2. Management

Most MBA programs include a specialized management class, dedicated to topics such as operations management, human resources management or financial management. A grasp of the fundamental principles before enrolling in a specialized or topical management course will help you better apply your new knowledge; you won’t be behind the curve because you aren’t familiar with the basic vocabulary or principles, for example.

3. Economics and Finance

Economics is another area where having a solid background before attempting graduate-level coursework is good. Understanding basic principles of both micro and macroeconomics will allow you to spend time gaining new knowledge and applying new skills. The same goes for finance. Basic financial principles are the same no matter which industry you’re working in. Understanding how to use financial data for analysis and prediction before applying industry-specific principles will give you a broader base from which to work and help you avoid frustration and confusion.

4. Computer Skills

Chances are you know how to use basic computer programs, but if your skills with a program like Excel extend to list-making or mail merges, then a basic training course in performing advanced spreadsheet functions might be in order before you enroll in business school. In a finance or accounting course, for example, you might receive a data set to analyze or interpret, and without a basic knowledge of how to use formulas in a computerized program — or even where they can be found — will impede your progress.

Some MBA programs offer a business school preparation or refresher course for new students who might not have a business background or have been out of the field for some time. If your school does not offer such a program, contact your local university extension, community college or look online for appropriate courses that will get you up to speed. Do not expect to transfer credits from these programs to your MBA, though, as most are taught at the undergraduate level and will not transfer.

Earning an MBA is a major achievement, and you can make the process more fulfilling — and be more successful — by thinking ahead and anticipating the areas where you might have some trouble. If you plan to return to school, take courses that will prepare you for advanced study and start your MBA studies on the right foot.

After earning a degree in communications, Carlene DiRosario worked in health care PR for nearly a decade. She recently earned her MBA from Our Lady Lake University online and is now a leadership team member for a large hospital.