You are here

Interested in studying abroad?

Check out our comprehensive guides

5 of the Best Alternatives to an MBA

5 of the Best Alternatives to an MBA main image

Keen to fast-track your career and augment your earning potential?

If, like most people pursuing careers in business, you’ve been told time and time again that an MBA is the answer to all your problems, you may be intrigued to hear that there are other options…

In fact there are many alternatives, which you can pursue without acquiring the level of professional experience required for an MBA, and without securing employer sponsorship.

So, read on for a list of five great alternatives to an MBA!

MBA alternative #1: Specialized master’s in business

While MBAs typically cover a broad umbrella of business topics and managerial skills, a specialized master’s in business allows you to deepen your expertise in a particular field – such as finance, business analytics, strategic marketing or wealth management. Usually significantly cheaper than an MBA program, these specialized business degrees allow you to access specialized roles, and can also be good preparation for research-based careers.

MBA alternative #2: Certification

Pursuing a graduate certificate rather than an MBA or a master’s degree means you could complete a short specialized course, within the space of two semesters up to a year, to speed up your career progression, enhance your existing skillset, or move into a new role. On par with a master’s degree in terms of difficulty and level of study, a graduate certificate is simply cheaper and more focused, and can be the best option for those already working full-time and/or seeking to acquire a very specific set of skills.

MBA alternative #3: Work, work, work

Before you enroll in another business degree, why not try… (net)working! Connect with inspiring leaders and disruptors by attending industry-specific conferences and alumni events, volunteering and networking, until you find a mentor who believes in you. Don’t forget programs like Toastmasters, AIESEC and various other leaderships groups, which can be effective ways to widen your network of contacts. Invest in building the right connections, stay open to opportunities, and who knows where you’ll be in five years’ time?

MBA alternative #4: Start up

Starting up – no matter how small – is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to learn about modern business challenges and develop your managerial skills. While obviously the two are not mutually exclusive, investing the funds you would normally spend on an MBA program – say US$200,000, including tuition, accommodation and living costs – investing in your own company could have a greater long-term payoff, both in terms of earnings and experience.

MBA alternative #5: Entrepreneurship development programs

If you’re a budding entrepreneur but want some guidance before going it alone, you should definitely consider investing in one of these! Fairly pricey (MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program costs US$10,900 excluding accommodation), but a far cry from hefty MBA fees, entrepreneurship development programs typically last a week and cover everything you need to know about starting up. If you’re ready to make the leap, this could be what you need to get your business plan off the ground.

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Olga R, ASMA B & 1 others saved this
Written by Mathilde Frot
I'm originally French but I grew up in Casablanca, Kuala Lumpur and Geneva. When I'm not writing for QS, you'll usually find me sipping espresso(s) with a good paperback.

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles


The chartered Manager credential from Chartered Management Institute is a very good option
Covers good leadership skills based on experience and training

I was also interested in the topic. And I found this program when tried to find any alternatives to MBA. You might want to check out Executive Programme for Design Leaders in London. It is tailored for creatives with 15+ years of experience who want to acquire business and strategic knowledge to build better products, teams and companies. There will be talks, workshops by leaders at Amazon, Google, Facebook and other top companies.