3 Ways MBA Classes Differ from Undergraduate Courses

gray clock icon
3 min read

Graduate school is quite different than what you experienced in college. Even if you majored in business management during your undergraduate years, a graduate-level business program will present you with a greater challenge, both in terms of the depth of coursework and the standard of analysis you’ll be expected to perform in your classes. MBA classes differ from undergraduate courses for many reasons, including shorter deadlines, an increase in collaborative work, and a consistently high level of dedication among your peers.

How do undergraduate courses contrast with those you’ll encounter in business school? Here are three ways MBA classes differ from undergraduate courses:

1. MBA classes require more work in less time

Undergraduate courses generally last a full semester or trimester, allowing students to spread their readings, assignments, and exams over three or four months. Conversely, many MBA programs offer a more tightly-packed schedule, particularly in the first year, with courses that span only two months or less and meet three or four times per week. This means you’ll have the following requirements almost every weeknight, on top of the career-building events and community activities you may wish to attend:

  • Problem sets to complete
  • Cases to analyze
  • Presentations to prepare.

Additionally, though students regularly select semester-long elective courses during the second year of a full-time MBA program, the same type of work and commitment is expected for these courses as well. To succeed academically in an MBA program, you’ll likely need to manage your time more strategically than you did during college.

[RELATED: What I Wish I Knew Before Starting Business School]

2. MBA projects often require extensive teamwork

MBA programs typically encourage problem-solving in a team setting, as MBA-level positions in the workforce usually involve collaboration across multiple departments. Furthermore, some of the teams may be pre-assigned, so you won’t always be able to select your team members. This provides you with the opportunity to develop your relationship management skills outside of the subject of the courses. You won’t just be learning finance, operations, or accounting; you’ll also cultivate competencies like motivation, creativity, and leadership.

[RELATED: 3 Things to Know About MBA Minors]

3. Every student in your MBA program has a high level of dedication

Aside from the initial core requirements, students in business school select the mix of classes that they want to take each term. Additionally, you and your fellow classmates have decided to earn a graduate degree in business. Therefore, unlike college, you won’t find yourself in a philosophy class that was assigned as a general education requirement, or in an astronomy class to fulfill your lower-level science credits, with students who don’t want to be there. MBA students tend to be ambitious leaders who want to get the most out of their graduate school experience, including graduate-level academics. So be prepared for more robust classroom conversation than those you may have engaged in at the undergraduate level.

[RELATED: 4 Steps to Take Today to Prepare for B-School]

Considering these three factors, you should approach your graduate program in business with more focus than you may have allotted for your undergraduate studies. Though an MBA program takes less time than earning a four-year degree, the size and intensity of your workload will be greater that what you had in college. You’ll be working with your classmates in teams on a regular basis. Luckily, if you’re excited about attending your MBA program, you’ll be surrounded by colleagues who share your enthusiasm for learning more about business.

Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at blog@varsitytutors.com.