MBA Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the questions we most commonly receive about applying for the Online MBA for executives.

If you are still unclear about any of the program requirements, please click here to contact one of our student advisors.

Standard MBA - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Master of Business Administration or MBA?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. An MBA is an internationally recognized graduate level degree usually pursued by professionals with some work experience. Gaining an MBA education further develops and cultivates business acumen essential for advancement into the C-suite of business. An MBA concentrates on key management areas that affect organizational performance: leadership, strategy, analytics, human resources, finance, marketing, operations, and information technology.

What is the value of an MBA?

Earning a master’s in business administration (MBA) can help business professionals to enhance their career opportunities, receive increased compensation, and job advancement opportunities. It also has great utility across industries: healthcare, government, not-for-profit, etc.

Why take MBA courses online?

Flexibility is one major advantage. Taking your MBA online offers a unique, customizable learning experience that is tailored to your lifestyle and time commitments. Athabasca University’s flexible, 24-hour, online format allows you to complete your coursework from home, work, or even while travelling. Because our students don’t reside in one physical location there is greater opportunity to connect with experienced managers and leaders from a vast array of differing industries all across Canada and around the world. AU’s online MBA is built to enhance peer-learning and collaboration, there is ample opportunity for students to interact and participate in discussions and group work.

What is an Executive MBA or EMBA?

An Executive MBA (EMBA) is very similar in structure to an MBA—the big difference is that students bring more work experience to the classroom. Some EMBAs have become very short (14 to 18 months of part time study) and blur the lines between graduate level study and executive development. Athabasca’s MBA for executives combines the full curriculum and learning of a full MBA with the richness of discussion that comes from having experienced managers and leaders as students. The degree Athabasca University awards is an MBA.

What is the difference between an EMBA and an MBA?

There are a couple of differences between an MBA and an EMBA; students entering the EMBA usually have been in the workforce longer and commonly have greater experience in executive or leadership roles, most EMBAs take significantly less time to complete and the academic content is condensed. MBAs often rely heavily on analytics and case studies and are often focused on helping students develop skills to enter their first professional or early management role. Conversations in the classroom differ too. In an MBA, where students have limited experience, it’s “imagining what you might do.” In an EMBA it’s more frequently, “how have you done this? Do your experiences match the theory?”

What are the MBA requirements?

Athabasca’s MBA for executives has three routes of entry:

  • An undergraduate degree, plus three years of managerial experience (managerial experience must demonstrate progressive responsibility and should include managing people, projects, or budgets, or any combination of these), or
  • An accepted professional designation (i.e. CPA, CGA, PBA, etc.), plus five years of managerial experience, or
  • Eight years of managerial experience.

There is also an accelerated path if you have:

  • An undergraduate degree in business that has been completed in the last 10 years,
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher (for the last 60 credits taken), and
  • A minimum of three years of managerial experience.

What is a master's degree?

A master’s degree is the first level of graduate study. To apply for a master’s degree, one must typically have an undergraduate degree (a bachelor’s degree) or another qualifying credential. A master’s degree can be obtained in a variety of fields such as; a master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc), or Master of Business Administration (MBA).

What is a graduate degree?

Graduate degrees are the next level in higher education and succeed a master’s degree. One must customarily have either a bachelor’s degree or an advanced diploma to attend graduate school. A graduate degree can be either a master’s degree or a doctorate degree, the highest level of academic degree.

Can an MBA be done part time?

Many MBA programs can be taken part-time. The AU MBA program is designed to fit around your professional and personal life, and requires 20-25 hours of study/casework/group discussion per week. Because of the intensity of each course, only one 8-week course is taken at a time with a break between each course. Canada Revenue recognizes AU MBA students as full-time students for every month they are enrolled in a course.

What types of courses do you take in an MBA?

The Athabasca University online MBA for executives is broken up into two phases.
The first phase consists of six core courses that build on each other:

  • Strategic Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Financial and Managerial Accounting
  • Marketing Management
  • Managerial Economics and Quantitative Analysis
  • Operations Management  

These six courses are then capped by a week-long comprehensive exam (completed online).

The second phase consists of four advanced core courses:

  • Information Technology Strategy
  • Corporate Finance
  • Strategy and Organizational Analysis
  • Managerial Ethics and Decision Making 

Also required are 18 elective credits that may be obtained in two ways:

  • Six, three-credit courses, or
  • Three, three-credit courses and a nine-credit applied project.

Accelerated MBA - Frequently Asked Questions

If my degree is older than 10 years, will you also consider the amount of experience I have received over the years in conjunction with my degree to qualify?

No. The accelerated program recognizes previous academic preparation so, while managerial experience is required to meet our entrance requirements to the MBA program, it will not compensate for any lack of required qualifications to the accelerated admission route.

Will I get the same degree as students who are not in this admission route?

Yes, both lead to an MBA. The only difference will be the number of credits that show on your transcript.

I have taken courses at more than one Post Secondary institution, will I need to send transcripts from each or just my degree granting instutution?

You must have all Post Secondary transcripts sent to us from all of the institutions your attended, not just the last one.

If I have a business degree, does it matter which courses I have completed?

The review committee will evaluate your undergraduate courses to make sure the appropriate foundational business areas are covered. In general, these areas include: human resource management, accounting, finance, macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics, management information systems, marketing, organizational behaviour, organizational theory/analysis, and operations management. Strategy and ethics are not in the list as they are covered in the accelerated program.

If you are missing one or two core areas, you may still be considered for the program at the discretion of the admission committee, subject to taking additional courses.

My undergraduate degree is not a Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Commerce, or Bachelor of Management but I believe it is a business undergraduate (bachelor) degree. Can I apply?

Yes, you can apply if you feel that your undergraduate (bachelor level) degree is a business degree, even though its name is not the same as a traditional business degree. The admission committee will consider all the courses taken in the degree to determine if the degree is a business degree in substance comparable to other traditional business degrees. In general, to be recognized as a business degree, we expect the majority of courses taken to be in business and related areas. (Please see also the question above on “If I have a business degree, does it matter which courses I have completed?”)

My undergraduate degree was a three year program but I believe that the foundational academic material was covered. Can I apply?

Yes, you can apply. We will evaluate your undergraduate courses to make sure that you have covered the appropriate foundational academic material (see “If I have a business degree, does it matter which courses I have completed?” above).

The school at which I took my undergraduate degree does not use a 4.0 scale for GPAs. How do I know if I have met the minimum GPA requirement for the program?

Refer to AU’s Undergraduate Grading Policy:

A 3.0 GPA is equivalent to a B average or 73%.

How long do I have to complete my MBA when going the accelerated admission route?

You will have a maximum of 4 years.

Will you accept international business degrees?

Yes, if:
you have your transcripts assessed by one of our acceptable assessment services and your degree is deemed equivalent to a similar degree in Canada.

(See the ‘Transcripts’ tab under Admissions for details).

Will I be considered for the regular online MBA for executives program if my application for the accelerated program is unsuccessful?

Yes, you will automatically be considered for the regular online MBA for executives program admission route if you do not meet the more specific accelerated program requirements.

I received my degree within the last ten years but I have some courses transferred in from a prior program taken much earlier. Does it matter?

The reason we would like to have a degree obtained within the last ten years is to ensure the business contents of the program are not outdated. If an applicant’s business program took much longer than that of a regular situation, or the program involved transferred in credits for courses taken a long time ago, the admission committee will consider the situation individually and may require the taking of additional courses for those subject areas that were taken long ago.

The GPA on my business program transcript is higher than 3.0 but it doesn't include the grades for transferred in courses. Do the transferred in grades count?

The GPA calculations are based on the last 60 credits taken, if transferred credits were involved in obtaining the last 60 credits of the business degree, the course grades involved for those credits will be considered in the GPA calculations.