Is an MBA Hard to Pass? MBA Difficulty Ratings

Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a highly sought-after achievement. Graduates gain a competitive advantage in the job market, with doors opening to opportunities in management and leadership. That raises the question: is an MBA hard to pass?

The short answer is no, an MBA is relatively easy to pass once you’re accepted into the program. You’ve qualified to be an MBA candidate for a reason. While the average person may find an MBA tough, you’re not the average person.

According to the latest data available, the average dropout rate for MBA programs is around 15-20%. And this includes people who dropped out for reasons other than the course being too hard. Generally speaking, students accepted into MBA courses are well-prepared, motivated and capable of handling the workload and demands of the curriculum.

This is not to say that you don’t have to do the work. You do. But passing should be a highly achievable goal. Let’s further explore the challenges and difficulties of earning a Master of Business Administration degree.

Pass Rates for MBA Candidates are High

Man studying on laptop

The pass rates for MBA programs is generally considered to be around 80-90%, meaning only one or two out every 10 MBA candidates gets through most or all of the degree before failing.

These are attractive statistics for program participants. You can almost bet the one or two in ten who failed had something else going on in their life and didn’t study diligently.

Looking at this another way, it seems much harder for a committed student to fail an MBA program than to simply pass. We can see this bear out for the supposedly difficult courses at elite institutions such as Harvard and Stanford. According to, average graduates rates at leading business schools are 93% for full-time MBAs and 84% for part-time MBAs.

Financial Costs Are Outweighed by MBA Benefits

Confident, successful businessman

A reason some people think an MBA is too hard is the daunting expense. Tuition fees can be high, although cheaper options are always available. Full-time workers also need time off work unless they do a part-time MBA online.

While an MBA education can be a significant financial investment, it’s important to consider the potential long-term benefits. MBA degrees generally stands up well to cost-benefit analysis.

An MBA degree is considered a one-time sunk cost. If the program helps you achieve your career goals or grow your business, it could lead to higher earnings and greater professional opportunities for the remainder of your career.

An MBA degree opens doors to new career opportunities and boosts earning potential. Students acquire knowledge and skills needed to advance in their current field, or to shift into a different field. Additionally, an MBA is beneficial for entrepreneurs and small business owners, providing tools and knowledge to grow and manage a successful business.

You Can Choose or Design the Ideal Program

Smiling work colleagues

People considering an MBA are sometimes put off by the difficult nature of certain types of classes, such as data analytics. But there is variation in program content between business schools. Programs have electives as well. Therefore, you have the flexibility to confine your MBA studies to topics you can handle. A further reassurance is that technical topics are usually simplified and taught from a manager’s perspective.

When considering the level of difficulty of an MBA degree, pay attention to the specific courses offered or that you’re interested in taking. Compare subject lists, including core subjects and elective units, for MBAs from different graduate schools.

Courses in accounting and economics will involve a significant use of numbers, mathematics, and statistics. These classes may present advanced concepts such as regression analysis and managerial economics, which can be challenging for students without a strong math background.

On the other hand, classes in management and communications will require strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as knowledge of sales and marketing strategies. These classes may be less challenging for students with proficiency in language, and some marketing experience.

Capstone courses or other practical projects are usually the final courses in MBA programs. These projects require students to apply theoretical knowledge to practical problem-solving. The projects can be challenging because they’re time-consuming. They’ll test how well you acquired knowledge through the program.

Hardest Part: Finding Time for Study When You Work

Woman directing business meeting

For the many working professionals who study part-time online, making room for study in your weekly schedule is the hardest part about completing an MBA. Balancing the demands of a full-time job with the demands of an MBA program can be difficult, requiring a high level of time management and discipline.

Key to succeeding is to be organized and plan your schedule in advance. This includes setting aside dedicated study time each week, prioritizing assignments and exams, and being efficient with your time during the day.

You might be surprised to find that many of the most challenging things about getting an MBA have nothing to do with the difficulty of the coursework. Some students run into financial or time limitations.

Michael Robertson

Another challenge can be the mental and emotional toll of balancing work and school. The stress of managing both can be overwhelming at times. Finding the energy and motivation to study after a long day at work may be tough.

To overcome these challenges, many students find it helpful to set realistic goals, and seek support from family, friends, and classmates. Additionally, working students also look for MBA programs that offer flexible schedules or online options to make it easier to balance work and school.

Transitioning Back Into Academia Should Be Brief

Reading intently in library

Going to business school after significant time in the workforce can be a challenging transition for many MBA students. You’re moving from a professional work environment back into the classroom.

MBA students typically have already been working in a professional capacity for several years, and sometimes even for a decade or more. The transition into study can be unsettling as it requires adjusting to a different pace, academic-style assignments and a structured way of learning.

While the transition can be difficult as you relearn how to learn, and adapt to the academic rigors of an MBA program, this is temporary in nature. When eventually settled into an academic program, achieving learning goals gets easier over time.

Returning to study can also be a positive experience as well. Many students have gained valuable professional knowledge that can be applied to the classroom. You have a better understanding of the business world, and should be able to relate to the material and case studies presented in class.

One thought on “Is an MBA Hard to Pass? MBA Difficulty Ratings

  1. From my perspective, the level of difficulty of a subject depends on the effort and dedication one puts in. However, for those with a commerce background or prior BBA education, an MBA may not be as challenging. On the other hand, for those without such background, it may require more effort to succeed.

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