What skills does an MBA give you? Skills illustration

Think you have mad skills? What about mad MBA skills? Graduate with an MBA and you'll be the proud owner of a set of skills that put you in high demand in the workplace.



Plenty of people ask, “Why should I get an MBA?” There’s an argument to be made that on-the-job training gives you all the skills you need. But those skills can take years to acquire. Earning your MBA gives you the opportunity to quickly learn those same skills (and many more).

According to Princeton Review/Entrepreneur, “Executive business skills don't always emerge neatly from on-the-job experience—and in the rapidly changing world of contemporary entrepreneurship, knowing the latest leadership strategies and business practices is imperative to succeed.”1

The article goes on to define a set of skills where MBA programs improve performance:

  • Interpersonal—How you work and collaborate with others.
  • Strategic—Your ability to understand the steps necessary for success.
  • Entrepreneurial—How you evaluate markets, set goals, and think creatively.
  • Communication—The way you convey strategy to the people around you.
  • Leadership—Your ability to inspire a team and your co-workers.

What employers look for in MBA graduates

Acquiring these skills is important to increase your knowledge base. Equally important is acquiring a skillset so you get noticed during your job search. Employers are looking for a combination of MBA hard skills and soft that allow you to hit the ground running from day one.

7 in 10 graduates

say they would not have been hired without their business school education.

Graduate Management Admission Council. “The Soft Skills That MBA Programs Help To Build.” March 2020

Simply stated, and oft repeated, when employers look to hire, they’re looking for graduates with certain skills, and MBA programs are loading you up with courses, activities, and organizations that give you those skills in spades.2 Find out more in the Iowa MBA Employer Guide.

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What does an MBA teach you? 

Visit any business school’s website and you should be able to find their curriculum. We took a look at the University of Iowa’s MBA curriculum to get a snapshot of their hard skills list—the skills learned in the classroom:

  • Marketing Management
  • Management in Organizations
  • Operations and Supply Chain
  • Foundations in Strategy
  • Data and Decisions
  • Managerial Economics
  • Accounting
  • Business Analytics
  • Marketing 
  • Entrepreneurship

If you're still asking, “What do you even learn in business school?" We have answers…and lists

The list above only tells part of the story. More than just hard skills for business, an MBA gives you a host of soft skills to help you make an impact wherever your career takes you. Indeed.com notes that soft skills are “personal habits and traits that shape how you work, on your own and with others.”3

At the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, for example, you'll learn soft skills not necessarily included in the listed curriculum—like integrity, creativity, effective communication, open-mindedness, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and empathy.

While the lists above are far from complete, they provide a sample of what you can expect from your education, and the beginnings of a soft and hard skills list for a resume.

In the end, how you define hard skills versus soft skills is less important. What will count is having those skills on your resume and in your toolbox—skills that carry you through a successful career in business. Mad skills, indeed, and the true benefits of an MBA.

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Related articles

  1. Why Get an BMA? Practical, Applicable Skills.” Princeton Review/Entrepreneur.
  2. The Soft Skills That MBA Programs Help To Build.” Graduate Management Admission Council, March 2020.
  3. Jamie Birt. “Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?” Indeed, July 2023.