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Mini MBAs: The facts

A mini-MBA is not a graduate degree such as a regular MBA, but rather a short course of 3 – 5 days increasing an individual's business acumen by covering business fundamentals or skills like marketing or finance. It provides an added credential that is attractive to those hiring for business positions and is popular due to its short duration. Find more about this course below.

Origins and goals

A mini-MBA is not similar to an MBA. It is usually a single course covering multiple areas of business in 3 - 5 days and it is not an earned degree. It is undertaken by individuals without a strong business background who want to learn more about the basics or for those who want to gain business skills that will help them to obtain promotion. It was started by David Buckner (faculty at Columbia University) who taught a course for Industrial Organisational Psychology students providing the basics of business that was then missing in their graduate courses. This semester-long course included economics, strategy, finance, marketing and accounting. At the end of the class, a Ph.D student who worked at IBM approached him to ask if he could develop the course to be taught internally at IBM and after he replied that he could, the student asked what would be the least amount of time that he could cover the material in. Realising that it was intended for upper level employees who already knew the basics of business, David was able to design a 3 - 5 day course. The main goal of such programs is not necessarily to learn a body of knowledge, but to learn how to think in business terms, use business language and understand the various areas covered in the full-semester version from a strategy focus, so those taking the course could return to their companies and immediately put their learning into action.

Program development

Since then, many such courses have been developed to help individuals to strengthen their credentials becoming more competitive in a difficult job market, or to increase the likelihood of promotion for those already in business jobs, without needing to take a long time off from work. Many of these programs can be covered in a weekend, and a number of other Fortune 500 companies like IBM are bringing in individuals who specialise in teaching this course to provide it for their top performers. In addition, a number of business schools now offer them in their executive learning divisions for middle managers who want to move up but have no business background, or those testing the waters before committing to a full MBA program. They generally cost around $2,000 - $4,000.

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