Facebook pixel Many Options, One Choice. Which MBA Degree is Right for You? | Pepperdine Graziadio Business School Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

Many Options, One Choice. Which MBA Degree is Right for You?

Three students at pier

In 1785, English poet William Cowper coined the phrase “Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” Indeed, new and exciting experiences make life more interesting. Variety can be found in the simplest decisions such as taking the side streets to work or drinking soy milk instead of skim.

But some decisions have greater weight and go beyond your tastebuds to impact the trajectory of your future. Determining which MBA is right for you can be an intense, seemingly overwhelming decision. While business school could very well be the best next step for you, it’s important to take the time to understand the available options and how you best want to take hold of your future. Looking at all aspects – the good, the bad, the soy, and the ugly – will help you move forward confidently in the application process and ensure you fully reap the rewards of an advanced degree.

At Pepperdine Graziadio, we know earning an MBA is not for the faint of heart. It takes initiative and courage to challenge yourself to push your intellectual competency to the next level. To start, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Have you considered your career goals?

    We encourage prospective students to consider where they see themselves in five to ten years. Examine your interests, imagine a rewarding and fulfilling job – and how you will get there. Think back on your most rewarding academic courses and experiences. Consider which projects and teams gave you the most satisfaction in your career. Don’t forget about your non-professional goals – such as marriage, family, and community. How do all the answers stack up? 
  2. What do you want to achieve from earning an MBA?

    There are a wide variety of reasons someone would choose to pursue an MBA – all which rely on career status, work experience, and future goals. Many MBA candidates choose to enroll in an MBA program to test their abilities, make mistakes, and ultimately learn new industry practices that will help them become more successful in the workplace. Others are eager to hone in their self management, develop better processes for multitasking and managing deadlines.

    At Pepperdine Graziadio, our MBA programs offer opportunities to expand professional networks with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Students are also able to identify mentors and other industry leaders who can aid one’s career. Whatever your specific goal – an MBA can offer a wealth of advantages.
  3. Are you ready to invest in your future?

    MBA candidates should carefully consider the time and cost commitment that goes into earning an advanced degree. An MBA is an investment in yourself and professional future – and it’s one that will pay off over time. While the rewards include increased career possibilities and higher salaries, the path to an MBA requires students to allocate significant time and financial resources to be successful in their studies.

    Regardless of program or school, you should know what opportunities are available to you and find a program that best fits your schedule and your budget. Working professional? Pepperdine has a flexible, Part-Time MBA for that. Aspirational, but on a budget? No sweat, we have financial aid and merit-based scholarships for you as well. You have options, don’t be afraid to ask!  

If the answers to these questions affirm a decision to earn an MBA, here is the next fundamental question:

Which master’s degree is right for you?

According to website MBA.com, a Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is a general graduate business degree that teaches students technical, managerial, and leadership skills. Earning an MBA gives you valuable business acumen, expands your professional network, and creates new opportunities. It’s an ideal option to consider whether you want to reset your career trajectory, transition to a new industry, or become an entrepreneur.

What you can expect from an MBA ultimately depends on the program you choose. MBA degrees come in many different shapes and sizes, from full-time one- and two-year programs to part-time, flexible, online, and executive MBAs. Then we get into course modality – with some programs offering courses in-person, while others being held online or a hybrid of both.

At Pepperdine Graziadio, we want you to come into earning an MBA with your eyes wide open. It is our desire to help you consider all aspects involved with pursuing an advanced degree and the impact it will have both during your studies and after graduation. By setting expectations, you can jump in with two feet and confidently approach your goals, making specific decisions about courses, curriculum, and type of program easier.  

Here’s an overview of the types of MBA programs offered at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School:

Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA)

The Part-Time MBA, or Fully Employed MBA, is geared towards working professionals who work full-time and may not yet hold leadership positions. The program offers a flexible, experience-driven curriculum in a small, collaborative classroom environment focusing on multidisciplinary problem solving, communication, team-learning, ethics, theory-to-practice, and information literacy outcomes. 

Students tend to be 24 to 35-years-old and take classes after work, either in the evenings or on weekends. The program is structured for students to graduate in a two to seven year timeframe. Part-timers usually share the same faculty and can take many of the same courses as their full-time counterparts.

Full-Time MBA (FTMBA)

The Full-Time MBA program is an intensive and structured curriculum that typically takes less time than a part-time program to complete and is guided by a steady roadmap to graduation. As the name suggests, it is full-time school, so students must forgo working full-time in order to graduate in the standard 12-21 month timeframe. 

The Full-Time MBA immersive curriculum is designed to prepare students for the real-world, with its rigorous coursework focused on the application of current business practices. These programs are often popular with younger students, 23- to 30-year olds, who may have recently obtained their bachelor's degree and can afford to leave the workforce for a while. With the workload being condensed into a shorter timeframe than a part-time program, students would benefit from living on or near our Malibu campus and regularly attend classes. 

Executive MBA (EMBA)

The Executive MBA is aimed at business executives with five years or more of managerial experience (the typical student is in their mid-to-late thirties or older). Learning focuses less on basic business skills, which students have already mastered, and more on the strategy and nuances of business. The EMBA program is intended to teach a current manager how to be a strong and more effective leader. 

The flexible course schedule is designed with an executive’s calendar in mind, so students are able to maintain a work-life balance, keep their full-time positions, and attend weekend classes once a month on Fridays or Saturdays. Students learn as part of a small, collaborative cohort of peers from a diverse range of industries for the span of the 19-month program. One novel aspect of the EMBA is that each cohort is assigned a class advisor who acts as a mentor and offers guidance to students as they complete their degree. 

Online MBA

The Online MBA offers the same rigorous curriculum as its on-campus counterpart, with coursework being tailored to fit an online teaching platform. Before entering the program, students typically acquire 2-5 years of work experience – most commonly in the fields of consulting, operations, marketing, and finance. 

As the name suggests, online technology permits location-independent study, opening a variety of attractive educational options for prospective students in dispersed geographies. A distance-based MBA offers the flexibility and opportunity for out-of-state students to attend Pepperdine without relocating or adjusting their work schedule. Students also have more control over the pace of study and can complete the program in as little as 20 months.

Pepperdine Graziadio’s Unique Offerings

Presidents and Key Executives MBA (PKE MBA)

Unique to Pepperdine Graziadio, is our Presidents and Key Executives MBA (PKE MBA). Our program is the only MBA in the world that is specifically designed for senior executives either in, or on the way to the C-suite as well as  business owners charged with high-level strategic decision-making and driving bottom line results. This 15-month MBA program features global experience through travel abroad, live casework, and small classes structured in a roundtable boardroom style setting. 

Sustainability and the SEER Lens

Woven into the fabric of our course teachings is our Socially, Environmentally, and Ethically Responsible (SEER) business principles. SEER allows students to complement their MBA degree with courses and activities that will empower them to be more mindful leaders and entrepreneurs.  Additionally, students enrolled in the Full-Time MBA program have the option to pursue a SEER Certificate to add their Graziadio studies. With  SEER Certificate, students incorporate their values and ethics into every business decision, create lasting impact by responsibly leading current and future organizations and apply SEER practices to companies large or small, across a diverse range of industries. Outside the classroom, all Pepperdine students and alumni have access to the Center for Sustainability and can help join its efforts in creating a “greener” campus and workplace.

Pepperdine Graziadio’s Unique Identifiers

No matter which MBA you choose, there are key differentiators that span throughout all programs. Here are several hallmarks that distinguish Pepperdine Graziadio from other MBA programs:

Ethical Leadership

At Pepperdine Graziadio, we strongly emphasize ethical leadership and teach the concept in class, through community service opportunities, student organizations, and events, among other activities. You will be challenged to identify guiding principles that are most important to you about the way that you work and develop an understanding between right and wrong ways of working. Our aim is that you use these principles to make important business decisions and career choices.


We believe business can and should be guided by a moral sense of right and wrong. Values can help the individual and organization work with a sense of purpose, manage challenging situations, make decisions, increase confidence and make an impact on the world.


We believe individuals who know how to work together in a team environment can achieve greater and more meaningful business benefits. Our students work with peers in their cohorts, instructors, real-world practitioners and class advisors to build team efficiencies and solve current challenges. Our low student-faculty ratio and small class sizes means direct access to multiple faculty mentors that can provide up-to-the-minute, field-tested knowledge to the classroom where a collaborative approach empowers you to learn, grow, and expand with your classmates.


Our students benefit from practical or actual experience, as opposed to the abstract, theoretical, or idealized scenarios. Our course curriculums introduce real-world business scenarios into the classroom so students can apply their newly learned knowledge first-hand and overcome current obstacles facing their industry. One example of how we bring the industry to the classroom is through Pepperdine Graziadio’s Education to Business (E2B) program which gives select classes the opportunity to partner with renowned companies and executives to carry out live case studies and provide tailored solutions to the organization’s challenges.


At Pepperdine Graziadio, we prepare students to launch and sustain a successful venture or to become an innovative leader in any business environment. We believe the most effective entrepreneurs understand risk, identity problems and opportunities, innovate and lead by serving others for entrepreneurial benefit. 

Global. We embrace the reality that business is increasingly operating in multiple places and is influenced by forces around the world. Pepperdine provides unique opportunities to focus our curriculum on international business practices and equip our students with a global mindset. For those interested in studying abroad, we partner with more than 40 prestigious universities across five continents so you can get first-hand international business experience.

In alignment with these hallmarks, Pepperdine Graziadio MBA students will learn about accountability, purpose, detail-orientation, desire for quality, honesty, integrity, reliability, team efficiencies, and building upon policies and cultures that respect and appreciate others.  

We believe when professionals are guided by ethical principles, they benefit from greater understanding and trust that everyone does the right things for the right reasons. These socially conscious and mindful professionals align towards a common purpose and can take calculated risks that achieve outsized impacts. At the end of the day, establishing and working against a set of values can help a professional and an organization achieve success that surpasses individual ambitions. 

A Pepperdine Graziadio MBA: Boosting Professional Advancement 

As spices enable a culinary creator to be creative and adventurous, so too does earning an MBA give options to professionals ready to change their life. A Pepperdine MBA can transform your skillset, expose you to new ideas and experiences, open doors through new contacts, help you move up the ladder within your existing employer or help you strike out on your own as an entrepreneur. If you are considering an MBA, a Pepperdine Graziadio MBA could be the boost you are looking for to transform and grow both professionally and personally.