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How Hard Is An MBA? | Stats, Tips, and FAQs

June 12, 2024
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How Hard is an MBA?Tips to Overcoming MBA Challenges Common MistakesFAQs

Earning an MBA is a step that many business professionals take to advance their careers and hone their leadership, business, and management skills. But just how hard is an MBA to complete? The answer to this question is subjective; there are many variables to consider, including the school, program, attendance basis, field of study, and more.

How Hard is an MBA?

So, how hard is an MBA? It’s very challenging getting an MBA. However, you aren't alone when it comes to facing the challenges of business school. A lot of your peers would be facing the same challenges as you. But you can tackle these challenges with support and resources provided by your business school to help you succeed.

Here is a list of things to consider when deciding how hard an MBA may be for you to complete. 

How Do You Manage Your Time with Heavy Workloads?

Perhaps the most crucial factor to consider in how hard an MBA will be for you is your understanding of how well you can handle a full course load. Staff writer for Poets & Quants, Jeff Schmitt writes, “Used to working 70 hour weeks? Start preparing for 90-100 hours.” 

Between a full course load, extracurricular activities, networking events, and your personal life, you must be prepared to juggle responsibilities. The heavy workload can be a little overwhelming, and you may think  to yourself that things are happening too quickly. 

Hand-in-hand with large workloads is the need for excellent time management. Time management can be difficult when juggling so many distinct components of your life; thankfully there are ways to make the wheels of your days run smoothly. 

What Courses Are You Taking? What Areas of Study Are You Proficient In? 

When deciding how hard an MBA will be for you, it’s worth examining what courses you will take or those you would like to take. Some potentially more challenging classes you will encounter will be in areas like accounting and economics, management communications, capstone courses, or practical projects.

Students may underestimate “the extent to which numbers, mathematics and statistics will be heavily involved” in classes surrounding accounting and economics. Students may face many advanced concepts in these areas of study like regression analysis and managerial economics.

If you are a highly analytical person with a penchant for challenging mathematics, these classes may not be that difficult for you.

In contrast, those without a super-strong math foundation may find getting an MBA hard if these are the focused areas of study. 

As for management and communications, these courses will require “sound written and verbal communications skills,” as well as a “sound knowledge of sales and marketing strategies, as well as basic psychology.” These classes may not be as challenging as more mathematical courses if you are proficient in the language and know the ins and outs of sales and marketing techniques. 

Are You Prepared to Be Humbled? 

Business school can be a big transition fraught with fast-paced learning, new experiences, and other like-minded individuals. This transition can be a humbling experience, and sometimes that can be hard for people. For instance, even if you graduated at the top of your class, most of your cohort probably did as well. 

Business school teaches you that “everything you thought you knew about prioritization, mental stamina and your relative level of intelligence is basically false.” These realizations can be shocking, uncomfortable, and even make you doubt yourself and your abilities. 

Remember that your peers are probably going through these same thought patterns and that you are not alone. If you are accepted into business school, you deserve to be there. 

Tips to Overcoming MBA Challenges

Although you are bound to face a few obstacles on your way to an MBA, here are some great tips to overcome them. 

1. Take Some Time to Adjust to Your Campus and New City 

Often, students will have to move to a new state or at least city to attend a full-time MBA program. Moving to a new place alone can feel a little scary and isolating, so be sure to take a few days before your program starts to get settled and explore your new neighborhood or city. 

2. Be Organized - Time Management is Your Best Friend 

This may sound obvious, but you should really invest in a planner or make the most out of your calendar app on your chosen device. MBA student Barbara Sanches, studying at EMLYON Business School, said that the worst thing about MBA life is how demanding the program is at the start. “The worst thing is the intensive schedule at the beginning. We needed to be very organized in order to keep everything going in that period. Sleepless nights and an empty fridge were a constant part of my schedule as well!” 

3. Connect With Others Whenever You Can 

Perhaps one of the best parts of an MBA education is the new connections and friendships you will forge in your time at business school. Because of the diverse student body, you can count on an enhanced cultural and global understanding. Even if you’re feeling pressured or stressed, know that your peers are likely feeling the same way. Getting your MBA can be hard if you don’t have a support network in place to help you along the way. 

4. Understanding the Subject Matter 

Some of the courses you take on your path to an MBA can be hard. These courses will introduce “new ideas, concepts and subjects—and even if you’ve been an excellent student in the past, you might struggle with some of the new materials in your courses.” If you feel you’re struggling, be proactive and reach out to your peers, professors, and other academic resources. Know that with the right approach, you can overcome difficult subject matter. 

Common Mistakes

Getting your MBA can be difficult. With the heavy course load and constant studying, most people have problems keeping up. However, don’t fret! Below are some common mistakes you should avoid when getting your MBA. Avoiding these mistakes can make it less challenging to get your MBA. 

  • Underestimating the workload: Some people may enter an MBA program assuming it will be similar to their undergraduate experience or underestimate the required coursework and time commitment. This can lead to being overwhelmed by the workload.
  • Not managing your time: Balancing coursework, assignments, group projects, and possibly a job or other commitments requires strong time management skills. Underestimating the importance of effective time management can lead to falling behind and feeling overwhelmed.
  • Not networking or collaborating: Collaboration with peers and networking opportunities are integral to an MBA program. Neglecting to build relationships with classmates and industry professionals can limit learning, growth, and career advancement opportunities.
  • Focusing solely on grades: While grades are important, placing too much emphasis on achieving high marks at the expense of gaining practical skills, building relationships, and exploring career opportunities can be a mistake.

Now that you know what common mistakes to avoid, you’ll get your MBA more easily and confidently! 


1. Should I Pursue an MBA On a Full-time or Part-Time Basis? 

The answer to this will be dependent on your lifestyle. If you can afford to take off a year or two from work, you may be able to pursue an MBA on a full-time basis. If you’re not comfortable leaving your job, require an income, or have other life or community responsibilities, a part-time program may be better suited for you. 

2. How Much Free Time Will I Have? 

The answer to this is subjective, and you can decide for yourself how much “free time” you will have beyond class schedules. Some weeks may be a lot busier than others, and it can be typical to spend long hours working on projects or course materials well into the evenings and weekends. 

3. Will There Be Financial Aid Available? 

Many schools automatically consider students for merit-based scholarships, but be sure to check your school’s website for other available scholarships. Be sure to apply early not to miss out on any financial aid. 

If you are a military veteran, you may also be eligible to have your tuition partially or fully paid by the Yellow Ribbon Program. (link to MBA Veterans article). 

4. Besides Tuition, How Much Will an MBA Lifestyle Cost? 

Besides tuition, you must consider the price of books and other associated costs. The rest of the cost will be dependent on the location. Some cities cost more to live in, so you must consider the cost of rent, food, and transportation. 

5. Is the Work Done When I Graduate? 

The only work that is finished when you graduate is the work you needed to do to gain your MBA. An MBA is not a magic portal to success, and you should prepare to put in hard work and long hours in your high-paying (and likely high-stakes) job after graduation. 

However, you’ll be prepared to handle the hard work because of the training you received in your MBA program. 

6. How Do I Know My Application Is Good Enough for Business School? 

“Good enough” is subjective, depending on the school. While we don’t recommend submitting a hastily drafted application to any business school, striving for perfection can prevent you from applying at all. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way to achieve your goals. 

Services that specialize in MBA applications will be your best bet to ensure your application is polished and ready to be viewed by an admissions committee. 

7. Are Online MBA Programs Easier to Get Into?

Yes, students have found getting into an online MBA program easier than an on-campus program. In recent years, full-time MBA programs have reported a 52% acceptance rate, whereas part-time and online learning programs, noted a 78% acceptance rate, according to the GMAC.

8.  Is MBA Difficult for Average Students?

For average students, pursuing an MBA can be challenging but achievable. Success depends on factors like preparation, dedication, and effective use of support systems. While the curriculum may be demanding, utilizing resources like study groups study schedules can help navigate the challenges. 


Although getting an MBA can be challenging, how hard an MBA is to achieve will depend on your level of preparation and perseverance. You should consider the downsides of pursuing an MBA, including lost wages, tuition costs, and the amount of time the program will take to complete. 

MBAs can be hard to obtain because they break you down and reconstruct you into a more capable and skilled business professional. So, how hard is an MBA? The process can be challenging, but certainly not unattainable

About Inspira Futures

At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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