Going to graduate school isn’t always about quenching a thirst for knowledge. Sometimes, it’s simply about acquiring the degree you need to boost your income or qualify for a promotion. If you’re looking at graduate school more as a means to an end than as an intellectual journey, then you may be looking for an easier path to a degree. While all master’s degree programs include challenging graduate-level coursework, some of the easiest graduate degree options in business include the programs with the broadest curricula, the degrees that take the least time to earn and non-thesis track programs.
The Broadest Fields of Graduate Study
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, the most popular graduate degree in business, is also among the broadest fields of study you will find at the graduate level. Like their undergraduate counterpart, the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, the curriculum of MBA degrees incorporates studies in different areas of business so that students develop a well-rounded, big-picture perspective on how businesses operate. Your coursework in an MBA program might include studies in leadership and teamwork, marketing management, advanced managerial economics, management communication, operations strategy, financial accounting and corporate finance.
MBA degree programs typically offer specializations or concentrations that allow students to focus their education somewhat, despite still taking this coursework in a broad scope of business studies. The specialization or concentration you choose in your MBA program affects its level of difficulty.
The general consensus is that math-focused MBA specializations, like finance and accounting, are among the most difficult. They require more coursework in mathematical or analytical areas of study. Specializations in management, human resources and marketing are typically easier fields of study in that they don’t have such extensive mathematics and quantitative analysis requirements. Instead, your in-depth studies would revolve around learning management styles and strategies, cultivating skills in recruiting and training workers or developing promotional campaigns and materials, respectively. Perhaps the broadest degree option out there is an MBA with a general business specialization.
Another graduate program with a broad curriculum is the Master of Science (MS) in Management. Although MS management programs are more specialized than MBA programs, their focus is to develop general, versatile leadership skills.
The Fastest Graduate Degrees in Business
Another way to look at which programs are easiest is to consider how long it will take to earn the degree. Master’s degrees traditionally require two years of full-time study, and MBA degree programs that follow a conventional structure are no different. However, some graduate degree programs in business require only one year of study.
Many Master of Finance degree programs are structured this way, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students can also find Master of Science in Human Resource Management programs – including programs that align with the Society for Human Resource Management’s curriculum guidelines – that can be completed in just 12 months. Many Master of Accounting programs are designed to be completed in one year, to help students meet the five-year education requirement to attain a certified public accountant (CPA) license. Of course, students should be aware that specialized coursework is often more in-depth, technical and advanced than you would find in a more general program. It is important to weigh the options when deciding which degree sounds easiest to you personally.
What makes these specialized graduate business programs so much shorter than a traditional MBA option is usually a much smaller credit requirement. While some MBA programs require as many as 60 college credits, other graduate business programs require just 30 or so credits (and some, even fewer credits). If you’re looking for an easier option but you still want to go for your MBA, look for MBA programs that require fewer credits to graduate.
Prospective students should know that just because a program is faster doesn’t necessarily mean it is easier. Accelerated programs that condense two years’ worth of work into a single year of study include an intensive workload.
Non-Thesis Business Master’s Degrees
Traditionally, one of the most challenging parts of earning a master’s degree is writing your master’s thesis. Writing a thesis – typically, an academic research paper up to 100 pages or longer – can be a valuable experience for some graduate business students. However, it doesn’t align with the goals of many business students, especially those whose interests are primarily professional rather than academic. As a result, there are thesis-track MBAs and other graduate business degrees as well as non-thesis tracks. Often, a single business school will offer both degree options. Having the option to waive the thesis requirement certainly makes a graduate degree program easier.
If you opt for a non-thesis MBA option, you may have to meet other academic requirements to graduate, instead. For example, some graduate schools require students to pass a comprehensive examination if they are in a non-thesis program.