What it takes to do an MBA

What it takes to do an MBA

What does it take to do a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree? An MBA is a mid-career qualification, as an honour’s level degree and a few years of work experience are the minimum requirements to study an MBA in South Africa. We’ll take a look at the admission requirements in detail further down.

MBA programme requirements do vary a little bit between institutions, but there is a basic minimum requirement that is set nationwide. If you meet the entry requirements for an MBA in South Africa, then you will want to look at the pros and cons of studying an MBA to decide if it is right for you now. We will also take a look at the salaries that can be earned, which MBA specialisations pay the most as well as cover the tuition and other costs involved in studying an MBA.

What it takes to study for an MBA in South Africa

Once you have the degree and experience required to study for an MBA, it is just a matter of being able to put aside the time to properly focus on your studies and being able to budget for your tuition.

This is where an online learning platform helps immensely. You can save on the time, trouble and cost of having to attend physical lectures. With UJ’s MBA, you are also able to pay off your individual modules as you get to them, rather than having to pay a large upfront course or yearly fee.

If doing your MBA full time with contact classes, then it is important to budget to be able to support yourself during this time. Studying online, while not removing the time commitment, does make it much more flexible and easier to fit around other work and life commitments.

MBA requirements in South Africa

These are the minimum requirements for the University of Johannesburg MBA programme. Many other institutions have the same or very similar MBA admission requirements. The educational minimum requirements to study an MBA in South Africa are set by the Council for Higher Education and as such any accredited institution offering an MBA in South Africa is required to adhere to the same MBA admission requirements. In South Africa, entry requirements are set by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

A 4-year Bachelor’s degree (NQF level 8)
Honours degree (NQF level 8)
3-year Bachelor’s degree (NQF level 7) plus a Postgraduate Diploma (NQF level 8)
A minimum of four years’ work experience

Some variations are the inclusion of minimum age, the exact number of years of work experience and at what level and sometimes a certain baseline of English and mathematical competency. There are also sometimes options for recognition of prior learning as well as equivalencies for academic qualifications gained outside of South Africa.

Pros and cons of an MBA

If you are considering studying for an MBA and looking at the admission requirements, you probably want to weigh up the costs versus the benefits of studying for an MBA. Here are some of the pros and cons.


  • An MBA is on average a far more costly degree than most other degrees.
  • Time required to commit to studies
  • Potential opportunity costs
  • Advanced minimum requirements to study an MBA


  • Learn strategic thinking and how to run a business
  • Tuition by experts in their fields
  • Access to a large network of alumni
  • Develop leadership skills and confidence to take charge
  • Learn international trends and best practices
  • Gain the skills to start your own business

In deciding whether you want to study for an MBA you should look at the above factors. By studying an online programme you are able to mitigate some of the above cons. Studying your MBA online allows more flexibility and reduces the financial and time commitment required to study for an MBA. While this investment is famed for paying good returns on the career advancement of MBA graduates, it does nonetheless require a considerable financial investment.

Which MBA has the highest salary?

When choosing the specialisation of your MBA, aside from the admission and entry requirements, a crucially important consideration is the potential salary that an MBA qualification could land you.

There’s limited information on South African salaries, but two good sources give us a good idea of what people with an MBA can and do earn in South Africa, as well as the positions that they fill at their companies.

According to both Payscale and a survey conducted by mba.co.za, the best paid qualified MBAs are those working as chief executives. The average pay for qualified MBA graduates across the country is about R750,000 per year, but the pay for chief executives goes as high as R3 million per year. They are followed by those in top management roles, with a leaning towards finance.

There is little to no data linking the people in these roles to their MBA specialisations, but we can deduce a fair bit from what the roles require to guess at the likely specialisations of those best suited for these roles.

Business management specialisations is a useful specialisation as that helps towards becoming a chief executive or filling another senior management position.

Specialisation in finance is certainly good for your salary too. In terms of the industries that qualified MBA graduates end up working in, the survey showed a very heavy leaning towards areas of investment and finance. Of the survey respondents, 21% said that they work in the combined field of finance, banking, insurance and accounting.

How much does it cost to study for an MBA

As mentioned earlier, an MBA is not a cheap degree to study. But as with most things, you do get what you pay for. While costly, an MBA can provide a fantastic return on investment as MBA graduates are among the best paid.

A global ranking of MBA schools by the Financial Times found that at the top MBA schools in the world, graduates on average had a more than 100% increase in salary after completing the course. For some universities, graduates came close to earning three times as much as they did prior to completing the course. While there is no similar study for South Africa, you can be sure that your earning potential will increase.

While local business schools may not be able to guarantee the same kind of jump in earnings, there is the benefit that local degrees are substantially cheaper to study. In fact, studying the University of Johannesburg Master of Business Administration degree costs less than 10% of the fees for the world’s most expensive business schools.

For a detailed and up-to-date breakdown of the costs, please have a look at the University of Johannesburg’s MBA fees page. Studying online also saves on costs, among other benefits enjoyed by students doing any of the University of Johannesburg’s online programmes.

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