Undergrad in Business vs MBA

MBA undergraduate business degree
New answer on Nov 30, 2023
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 25, 2018

Dear Preplounge Members

I'm an Engineer and i know zero about business its like a black box for me. I'm thinking about to pursue a second undergraduate degree on a top european university in Business because its much cheaper than an MBA. But I've to study 3 years instead 1 year in MBA. I've heard that an MBA on a top university is so expensive because of the network. I'm not searching for a network I just want the get the best knowledge and business skills to run, build companies or to work in the management of a company.

1)Where (MBA vs Top University undergraduate degree) do I learn more business skills to become a CEO of startups,small or middle sized or big companies?

2) Is an US MBA curriculum more intense, better and deeper than an european one because it takes 2 years instead of 1 year like in europe?

3) Is an undergraduate degree more intense than an MBA degree or vice versa?

4) Which way would you personally go if you were in my shoes?

Thanks very much for your help. I appreciate every answer, opinion and help.


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Content Creator
replied on Nov 30, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach


These are great questions. 

I've put together an article a few months back that actually touches on most of them:

Hope you'll find it helpful.


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replied on Oct 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It really depends on the university. If you are thinking about the knowledge, I would rank the options in the following order:

  1. Top 3 US MBAs
  2. Top 4-7 US MBAs, INSEAD
  3. Business Undergrad in a top University
  4. Other EU MBAs, Other US MBAs (use the rankings)

I don't know what you mean by intense, but I believe it's similar to the previous ranking.

The second lens you should apply is years you spend / money you can earn alternatively. E.g. after a US MBA you can earn $190K total gross in the first year (MBB), and cover a lot of your MBA expenses. If you choose INSEAD - you will have 2 extra years of work. If you select a 3-year degree - you earn basically nothing during the 3 years.


3 years

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Anonymous replied on Oct 26, 2018

Hi there,

Overall, an MBA is much more respected than a BA in business, so from that lens it's a no brainer for MBA (depending on school, of course). This is especially the case if your aim was to become the CEO of a large company, where MBA prestige can go a long way.

However, consider this - given your position, the best place to learn about business is probably just to immerse yourself in business! Get a job at a company and try work on the business/operations side of things. Or, since we are on a consulting board, get a job in consulting! This will arguably give you much better training and foundation for actually starting your own company than an expensive degree and time commitment will give you. If you did consulting, you would also have the opportunity after 2 years to go do an MBA with company sponsorship.

In the meantime, the power of self-study is strong, especially in this day and age. Buy yourself an undergraduate business textbook (or find one online) to get the basics. Read books by business leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Start reading the FT and business insider.

You'll see that a lot of business leaders today don't have a degree in anything related to business. My last manager at Bain had a degree in Classics. You do not need a formal education in business to be successful in this field, so consider alternatives!

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Anonymous replied on Oct 26, 2018
Looking for partners. Have 1st round Mck interview in August

1) The school of hard knocks. Business school will not teach you how to run a startup, it will teach you business concepts. The only way to learn to run a company is to do it.

2) It probably depends on the school?

3) An MBA is a graduate degree, so it will be more intense than an undergrad degree.

Why not just take online courses or a certificate program? Or just read business books on your own? Business is much easier to learn than engineering.

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 18, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


To make a better informed/educated decision, i would look at ranks such Financial Times + Poets 6 Quants.

On top of that... is a lot about personal preference. Mine, US.

Good luck!

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Anonymous updated the answer on Oct 26, 2018

Hi Anonymous,

if your goal is to become CEO of a company, then don't do another degree now, but get to work in a workplace where you see many different things (consulting, startup). This truly is the school of hard knocks and you can't study experience.

That way, you will see what skills you can easily acquire on the job and through books, MOOCs etc. (maybe process optimization or product management or marketing or whatnot) and where you struggle more (maybe building an organisation or corporate finance or ...).

This will sharpen your focus once you get back to learning. Otherwise, you just learn a bit of everything and become a "jack of all trades, master of none".



PS: As a CEO your network is a huge asset, so don't discard this lightly!


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Cristian gave the best answer


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