Why You Should Pursue A Practical MBA

Why You Should Pursue A Practical MBA


When undertaking an academic degree such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA), there is always going to be an academic focus. Many higher education providers focus on the academic delivery of the degree, and often don’t recognise the importance of pairing academics with a practical focus. A practical MBA is one that allows students to apply their knowledge directly in the workplace. A degree becomes practical when the style of teaching differs – for example, a strong academic focused programme will provide students with many theories and journal articles. A practical based teaching method will also provide these theories, but then delve deeper into how they can be applied in a practical sense by comparing them against real workplace examples. If you are wondering whether you should pursue a practical MBA, read below to learn more.

The Australian Institute of Business uses the Work Applied Learning (WAL) model within the delivery of the MBA programme. As explained by the Global Centre for Work Applied Learning, ‘the WAL model recognises the workplace as the crucible of learning for change’. This model specifically researches in the context of enabling managers and professionals to learn and introduce change in their workplace, which is ideal for the vast majority of MBA students. WAL is based on a number of integrated concepts, including that of Action Research, Action Learning, Work-Based Learning, Reflective Practice and Case Research.

Essentially, WAL ensures that there is relevant and immediate application of knowledge for working students. Pursuing this kind of practical MBA is particularly useful for working students as the knowledge can be applied in the workplace  whilst undertaking each subject . In many cases, this practical approach also results in workplace promotion during the MBA, rather than sometime afterwards. Management are able to see changes being made and a new level of strategic thinking, therefore choosing to recognise or promote the employee earlier.

It is a well-known fact that senior management positions require a high level of academic and practical business knowledge to perform their job well. It’s not uncommon for senior managers to consider undertaking the MBA to learn the theoretical side of their business, as many have risen to the top without a Bachelor’s degree in hand. If they undertake a practical MBA, it will be much easier for them to see the connection between the theories and the workplace, and it is more likely to be useful for their day-to-day role.

Finally, practical MBAs are also very useful for those who are looking for a new job throughout their studies. As you are formally trained in strategic thinking, you will be able to reflect on your studies and actively demonstrate your practical knowledge during a job interview. The WAL model allows students to identify where the theory can be applied in a number of different scenarios. For example, if the interviewer asks how you would handle a particular situation, chances are you will have discussed this in your MBA and will be able to form an answer which is relevant to the workplace rather than reciting theoretical concepts.

What do you think?

Do you see the benefits in obtaining a practical MBA over one which will just teach you the theories? I’d be interested to hear from both sides to learn the benefits of each study method and what you have found to be of use to you. 

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following resources were used to compile this article: Australian Institute of Business and Global Centre for Work Applied Learning.

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