Imagine that you’re booting up your laptop for your weekly Zoom staff meeting. You’ve whipped up a motivating pep talk and prepped your spreadsheets. Will your presentation grab your boss’s attention? Will you stand out as a self-starter with big ideas that could boost the company’s bottom line?
Those are the questions raised and answered by a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. MBA courses are designed to sharpen your skill set, no matter how long you’ve been on the job or what your rank is on the company ladder. These programs allow you a chance to interact with peers and leaders in your field whose fingers rest on the pulse of industry innovations — and real-time interaction with existing companies is key to the process. Fortunately, Atlanta boasts many colleges and universities that offer robust MBA programs geared towards busy workers seeking to redefine their goals and abilities—and kick their earning potential into high gear. Here, we’ve cultivated a list of some of the best programs in the city.
Campus: Athens or Buckhead
Degree options: Three MBA programs appeal to a variety of academic goals and timelines. Concentrations in corporate strategy, financial technology (FinTech) and social innovation are featured. The Full-time MBA program offers daytime courses over a span of two years. For those opting to work full-time while studying, the Professional MBA program allows students plenty of schedule flexibility, with weekend or weeknight courses over 23 months. The Executive MBA program was designed for mid- to senior-level corporate leaders looking to advance their career opportunities. This program offers weekly courses online and in class (plus a 12-day international residency) and completion in as few as 18 months.
Application requirements: Resume, college transcript, two recommendation letters, GMAT or GRE scores (work experience waivers available), two essays, application fee.
More info: terry.uga.edu/mba
Campus: Kennesaw, Cobb Galleria or Sandy Springs
Degree options: Kennesaw State also offers three MBA programs. The WebMBA online program was developed for students desiring remote classwork and can be completed in 20 months. The Evening MBA is a part-time, accelerated program that can be completed in at least 19 months or up to six years with one evening class weekly in fall, spring, and summer semesters. Those wishing to focus on the study of global markets and technology can take advantage of the Executive MBA program, which offers weekend courses once a month for 19 months, plus a 12-day immersive trip to South America.
Application requirements: Resume (two years’ work experience required for WebMBA), college transcript, two recommendation letters (WebMBA only), GMAT or GRE scores (work experience waivers available), interview with program directors (Executive MBA only), application fee.
More info: coles.kennesaw.edu/mba
Campus: Downtown Atlanta and Buckhead
Degree options: For early-stage professionals, those looking to fill a specialized niche or liberal arts grads who wish to transition into business, Georgia State’s traditional MBA program fits the bill with full-time or part-time classes over a span of two to five years—at your own pace. The Executive MBA program, however, is designed for experienced professionals pursuing leadership positions in global business (six years’ relevant work experience is required). It is a 17-month program with Friday and Saturday night classes every other week, plus a business trip to South Africa, Cuba or Silicon Valley.
Cool feature: The MBA Leadership Exchange, which allows students to meet monthly with mentors to refine career goals and paths for advancement.
Application requirements: Resume, college transcript, optional recommendation letter, GMAT or GRE scores (work experience waivers available), essay, application fee.
More info: robinson.gsu.edu/mba-programs
Campus: Midtown Atlanta
Degree options: The Full-time MBA program is designed for students desiring a fast track to graduation—22 months. The Evening MBA program allows more flexibility in scheduling, with part-time coursework over 24 to 36 months. And the Executive MBA program takes a deep dive into global business or technology management and requires applicants to have five years’ professional experience; this program is offered on weekends over 17 months.
Cool feature: The Jones MBA Career Center provides advisors, workshops, on-campus recruiting, peer mentoring and paid internships to full-time students.
Application requirements: Resume (at least two years’ work experience required), college transcript, two recommendation letters, GMAT or GRE scores (work experience waivers available), two essays, application fee.
More info: scheller.gatech.edu/why-scheller
Campus: Atlanta (Druid Hills)
Degree options: Emory’s One-year MBA allows students who want to focus on entrepreneurship to study at an accelerated pace over one year. This program includes an experiential international trip. For those who need more scheduling flexibility, the Two-year MBA program is a good choice; it has an internship component that offers an immersive experience for those desiring to make a career change. The Evening MBA program has the most schedule flexibility and can be completed over 24 to 32 months. For high-potential professionals shifting industries or building on current expertise, the Executive MBA program runs for 18 months, with weekend, evening and online instruction.
Cool feature: The student-to-instructor ratio in these programs is typically 5:1.
Application requirements: Resume, college transcript, two recommendation letters, GMAT or GRE score, three written essays, application fee. Bonus: The required “Video Essay” allows applicants to speak directly to the admissions committee.
More info: goizueta.emory.edu
Degree options: Clark offers a Full-time MBA program (over two years) that is best suited for those wishing to study entrepreneurship management, finance, marketing, sports and entertainment management or supply chain management. The Working Professional MBA program is best for those who need more flexible scheduling; this 18-month program offers concentrations in accounting, finance, information systems or marketing with online and in-person instruction.
Application requirements: Resume, college transcript, three recommendation letters (two from former instructors, one from a past or present employer), three essays, application fee. Bonus: GRE and GMAT scores are not required.
Cool feature: The student-to-instructor ratio for this Historically Black University is typically 11:1.
More info: cau.edu/school-of-business-Academic-Programs
Campus: Atlanta and Macon
Degree options: Concentrations include entrepreneurship and innovation, finance, global business, healthcare management, integrative business, managing people and change and marketing. A Full-time MBA program, which can be completed in 10 to 12 months, is available with daytime, in-classroom instruction. The Two-year MBA program accommodates international students, offering concentrations in accounting, economics, finance and marketing. The Evening MBA program is designed for professionals already working in a business environment and can be completed in as little as one year with once-weekly classes that are supplemented by optional online classes. The Online MBA program allows students to pursue an accelerated 30-hour curriculum or select a specialized concentration of study for a self-paced 36-hour curriculum.
Application requirements: Resume, college transcript, GMAT or GRE score (waiver possible due to prior graduate work), application fee.
More info: business.mercer.edu/programs
Make Your Mark
To ensure that you stand out during the application process, be sure to use the essay requirements as an opportunity to describe your career goals. Look at both sides of the equation; admissions committees not only want to hear why you’re a good fit for the school, but also why the school is a good fit for you. If you’re shaky about your academic record or job experience thus far, use your essay to explain how you’ve made a positive impact in a work environment, whether corporate or nonprofit. Even small instances where you’ve exhibited excellent judgment on the job will count in your favor. And with all programs, the review committee will approach you for a personal interview if you look like a good fit. Then you’ll be on our way to earning your MBA and making your mark on the business world.