Alternatives to MBA Programs


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So you have your bachelor’s degree, and you are looking for what’s next endeavor. Does grad school, a traditional MBA, or an Online MBA degree not look like a plan anytime soon? We highly encourage you to take the next step to seek out the many online graduate business programs available, but we know that this option might not be an option right now. The good news is that there are alternatives to an Online MBA degree. And your road to success may have a different journey than others. One cannot compare one person’s road to anyone else’s. So, we want to give you a list of MBA alternatives that you can explore as you begin your career and possibly build up to an Online MBA degree in the future.

We have said this repeatedly, but the more you know, the more you grow. Do not wait to begin your journey in your specified field. Apply for positions that you are qualified for and maybe some that you aren’t. You might discover that you are in a situation where the company will foot the bill for your Online MBA. But until then, let us take a look at your options. Alternatives to MBA programs include immersing yourself in literature, individual courses or short certificate programs, and volunteer experience. Let us ease into this world and get our feet wet. 



Getting through an Online MBA program might be time-consuming and may not fit into the schedule or budget. Books are great MBA alternatives. You can pick some in the business area you are interested in. How about entrepreneurship, emerging business practices, financial management, digital marketing, or leadership? There is a book for you.

You can also look up your favorite online or traditional MBA program and find books on their course list. The sky is the limit. Here are a few available books that you can read that will help you continue learning and growing in your field of work. 

“The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” by Daniel Coyle

No matter our area of focus, there is one commonality: success. Everyone wants to be successful, and they want to make a good salary. This is a great book where Daniel Coyle talks with business executives and other business professionals on their success and what it takes to be successful and the top in your field. “The lessons Coyle conveys may not be earth-shattering. Some are straightforward. But they can revolutionize your company culture and lead to enhanced success.” 

“Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too” by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is a social media maverick, and the follow-up title to “Crush It.” Are you looking for a way to get your brand to stand out in a saturated and competitive market? Are you interested in how to successfully use social media for your brand? This book is worth your time. As a student looking to learn more in the business world, this is an excellent book if you are looking at a career in brand/ business management. 

“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou

Often when we are in the educational realm, we read textbooks, biographies, and success stories. Here is a book on what not to do when in the business world. John Carreyrou is an investigative reporter that followed the rise and fall of Theranos, a blood test technology start-up that crashed and burned. 


executive assessment

Now we know that you have just finished a degree program and the last thing you want to hear about is more classes, well guess what? We are forever students! So let’s learn. Here’s a list of free courses. They are popular MOOCs (massive open online courses) that you can take to give you a heads up on the competition.

This is a great MBA alternative. You can look up topics in business essentials or find a class in a specific sector. Remember that your potential employer will ask, why should they hire you? When you list off these extra classes and certificate programs, you will become a shoo-in candidate for the position. These classes can also give you a sneak peek into top business schools around the country.


Here in this class, you will learn the best practices and approaches to writing effective business letters, emails, and reports. Format, composition, and clarity are emphasized. This is a four-week course with an expected three to four hours per week. This is a business essentials class. Everyone can benefit from this content. This course is offered through the University of California at Berkeley. 

What you’ll learn

  • Streamlining content for maximum effectiveness.
  • How to create an effective business letter, memo, and report.
  • Getting your ideas across clearly and confidently.
  • Best approaches to formatting business documents.


Taught by Harvard Business Professor Tarun Khanna, this business management course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and solving complex social problems. It is a great course for entrepreneurs and professionals who have their own business. This is a six-week course offered through Harvard with an estimated three to five hours per week. 

What you’ll learn

  • An understanding of a framework for evaluating entrepreneurship opportunities.
  • An awareness of the opportunities for entrepreneurship in fast-growing markets.
  • An appreciation of the types of problems and obstacles that lend themselves to entrepreneurial solutions.



Are you familiar with financial management or financial accounting? How about financial statements, creating them, and understanding the terms and metrics? This course will help you find confidence in your financial ability. This course is offered through Babson College and is an estimated four weeks long and four to six hours a week. 

What you’ll learn

  • How financial statements are created and what types of information is in each document.
  • How profits and cash can differ and how to use that information to manage business growth.
  • How to calculate performance ratios and use them to evaluate your business performance.
  • How to compose a financial forecast that you can use to manage your business better and to present to potential investors and creditors.


Global Business in Practice helps the student understand globalization’s impact on worldwide trade and how companies need to react. This is great for any professional wanting to work in the global marketplace. Do you have your sites set on global economics, becoming a global marketing manager, or supply chain management? This class is for you. It is 30 weeks long with an estimated three to fours per week. This course is offered through Georgetown University.  

What you’ll learn

  • Foundational knowledge of what it means to become a “Global Ready Leader.” You will be able to use critical findings of the workings of globalization to make more informed decisions in a business context.
  • Understanding of the practical complexities of globalization and how it affects the business environment regardless of its economic, political, or social situation.
  • You will articulate how global challenges are becoming increasingly complex by gaining insights from executives at different multinational corporations.
  • Using academic frameworks, understanding the differences in global business orientations, and apply them in specific business situations (i.e., multinational, international, glocal).
  • How to explain regulations and geopolitical forces that shape global business environments and create tensions and opportunities in the context of international business.
  • How to articulate global environmental change and forcing companies to develop sustainability practices based on creating economic value by creating societal value.
  • You will appreciate how global supply chains respond to the increasing integration of international markets as firms try to remain competitive. 


Our country has faced so many health scares, and currently, we live in an international pandemic. This current pandemic has been a burden to many businesses and how they function, and many companies are looking for innovative ways to stay afloat. This course helps analyze the data from the different health scares and how they affect business. This course is offered through Harvard and is nine weeks long, with one to three hours per week. 

What you’ll learn

  • The business case to espouse a Culture of Health.
  • The ways people are already involved in health and healthy systems.
  • How to apply and implement a Culture of Health in your organization and how it will result in a competitive advantage.
  • How to enact a Culture of Health will reduce costs, increase revenues, and enhance your business’s reputation.
  • Real-world examples of Culture of Health implementation.
entrepreneur student

Pursue Mini MBA Programs

A Mini MBA? “Mini MBA Programs” are certificate programs. It offers a comprehensive “bird’s eye” view of a Master of Business Administration program in a concentrated, short-term format. A Mini MBA program takes what would generally be around one to two years of instruction and condenses it into around 40 hours. These MBA alternative not only give you a taste of what a full degree program could be like, it also gives you an introduction to a business school.

Pepperdine University 

Here’s an opportunity to master the ten core business principles in five days through Pepperdine University. The Pepperdine Mini MBA Certificate program is a non-credit course. There are not any degree requirements for admission or enrollment in this program.  


Before deciding on a business school or the workforce, many students take a gap year to get more training, travel, and meet people. While this is an excellent opportunity to travel and meet people, volunteering is great to gain networks in your particular industry and get your feet working alongside your peers in your specified discipline. This is also a great time to learn new skills and learn the ins and outs of the business. These volunteer ventures can be great MBA alternatives. Here’s a list of different companies to volunteer with that are industry-focused. 

Business Professionals of America 

Each year, students from across the US compete on the regional and state level to show their skills in 90 different business areas.

Political Campaigns

Now, this is an area that many do not want to get into. Still, one of the most significant ways of meeting people and enhancing your networks is to volunteer on a political campaign.  


Community Events

Get involved in local events and planning. Here you can serve your community while meeting new people and learning about the area you are from. Here you can use your planning expertise. From calling residents to collect donations to registering runners at a 5K, you can use this experience to exhibit your sales or business administration skills.

Help Small Businesses

You are a fresh face that has graduated; many new businesses need your energy and expertise. Companies struggle from technological advances, and here is an excellent time for you to put some of the skills you have learned in undergrad to work. Working with small business is an opportunity to try new business practices and get an up-close view of different business operations. This is a great time to show off and use this time to put it on your resume for future employers. 

Volunteer at a Church

Many churches function like big businesses. This would be a great time to assist with social media and community outreach. You can put your planning and management experience to work. 

Find Opportunities Online

While living in a pandemic, many businesses have become creative in reaching their customers. Many companies are looking for influencers for their product, technical writers to help with their businesses. Try using sites like Volunteer Match or Serve, where you can search based on keywords such as business administration, global marketing manager, or sales. 

Start a Business

Do you have a particular passion or product that you would like to feature? Here is the time to put what you have learned into a small business. You can start a blog or sell a product. Work on your strategic thinking. The possibilities are endless, and this would be a great USP on your resume with potential employers. 

Action Plans

lone road

Upon graduation, there are many alternatives to an MBA program, and we want you to know that you are the author of your story. Do not feel compelled to do what the Jones’ do. Will you be an MBA graduate one day? Maybe. Understand your blueprint to success and understand what you need to do to get where you want to be. But remember, you are the driver, and the journey is up to you. We want you to remember that you are forever a student no matter your degree level. Keep that at the front of your mind as you continue your journey, and take every opportunity to learn and grow. 

Find a Mentor

Sometimes, when we graduate college, we think that we know everything just because we have a degree. That is a hard brick wall to hit, but remember that wall is straight ahead if you believe you know everything. We encourage you to get a mentor. Find someone that has years of experience and access in the industry. You want to find someone you can trust. Look back at some of the professors you’ve had and meet with them to see if it’s a match.  


Remember those who fail to plan, plan to fail. I like to do it the old school way. Break out a yellow legal pad and start writing. Make a list of long-term goals and a list of short-term goals. Take some time to visualize where you would like to be in the next five years, and then start doing the work. Remember to trust the process. Know that hard work is never in vain. Now it is up to you. What MBA alternatives do you want to try? We hope that we have given you a few options to check into as you decide what your world will look like after undergrad.

Related Resources:

Guide to a Sustainability Online MBA
Top Reasons to Get an Online MBA
Guide to an Online MBA
How do I Choose an Online MBA?
How Can I take Free Online MBA Courses?
Top Online MBA Programs

Find Your MBA

Get matched with top online MBA programs now!