MBA & Undergrad Business Degrees & Loans

A guide to getting a business degree.

A business degree is the most popular degree for both bachelor’s and master’s degree students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics1. So what makes business such a popular discipline? For starters, business offers a wide variety of sub-disciplines such as management, finance and marketing that appeal to many types of students. Also, a business career can provide vast opportunity for income and growth, starting from an entry-level job all the way to a senior executive position. Thinking about an MBA or bachelor's in business? Learn about:

  • Types of MBA programs
  • How to get an MBA
  • The salary benefits of a business master's
  • How to pay for an MBA/business education

So, get started with your business career today. If you need help financing your degree, consider a SunTrust private student loan.

A common question among potential MBA students is “Is an MBA really worth it?” The answer is, “it depends.” If you want to get an advanced degree to get a better job and increase your earnings potential, an MBA could be a great choice. Find out what's involved with getting an MBA.

  • Types of MBA programs

    • There are many types of MBA students, from recent grads to seasoned business managers with years of experience. Fortunately, there are a variety of MBA programs to accommodate these different kinds of students.

      • Full-time program - A program that’s popular with recent undergrads, a full-time program usually allows students to continue their studies in a full-time graduate-level program.
      • Part-time program - If you’re working, it may be harder to stop your life and go back to school full time. Part-time programs can be convenient for working individuals without a lot of spare time. Unlike an executive MBA (EMBA) program, which is also a part-time program, regular part-time MBA programs are generally geared towards students who don’t have as much hands-on business experience and possibly come from a non-business career. This may impact the way the curriculum presents business fundamentals. 
      • Executive MBA (EMBA) program - Made for full-time business people who already hold an executive or leadership position, this program allow individuals to advance their professional skills and potentially their careers; EMBA programs are often covered all or in part by the student’s employers.
  • How to get an MBA

    • The following are the main steps to getting an MBA:

      Steps to getting an MBA

      1. Be sure an MBA is the right choice for you

      • Do research in the field you want to work in. Is an MBA a stepping stone for success? An MBA is expensive, and if it won’t help you professionally, it might not be a good decision.
      • Reach out to business people who have an advanced degree to learn about their experience. If you are employed, ask your Human Resources department for contacts at your company. The Human Resources department can also provide you with information about tuition reimbursement programs if they’re offered. Is there an MBA association or business leader’s association in your community? See if you can interview someone at the organization or attend an event to speak with business leaders who have already obtained an MBA. 

      2. Decide on the MBA program type that fits your lifestyle and background

      • Determine if you want to enter a full-time, part-time or executive MBA program. If you have a family to support, you might not be able to stop working to pursue a full-time MBA program, which can be rigorous.
      • Many executive MBA programs require you to have worked for a specified number of years and to have shown some business leadership to enter the program.

      3. Research programs and learn about the admission requirements

      • Once you know what kind of MBA program you want to enter, learn everything you can about the educational background, test scores, and other information the school’s admissions department looks at.
      • Most schools will require letters of recommendation and transcripts – so start collecting that information.

      4. Take the GMAT or GRE

      • The GMAT is the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) that is used by most Graduate Business Schools for candidate admission. Some schools may also accept the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). In some cases, schools will only accept one of these exams, which is why it is important to know a given school’s admission requirements.

      5. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

      • While some graduate students may rely on fellowships and other financial aid sources, the federal government is also an important provider of graduate student aid. To receive any federal student aid you must complete this application every year. By completing this, you may be eligible to receive grants or loans to fund your degree.

      6. Brush up on your essay writing and interview skills

      • Most MBA schools require essays and an interview for admission. Give yourself enough time and practice to do a good job on this.

      7. Explore funding options

      • Concern about cost is the biggest reason students hesitate about pursuing an MBA program. While MBA programs can be expensive, there may be money available from scholarships, fellowships, grants, employer tuition reimburse and loans, including private student loans.
  • Salary benefits of a Master's Degree in Business

    • On a salary level, getting a business masters may indeed be worth your while. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that sales, marketing and management professionals who get a master’s degree can see an almost 40-90% salary increase over those with a bachelor’s. Here are selected business occupations in which workers with a master's degree earned a premium over workers with a bachelor's degree.

      Salary Benefit of a Master’s Degree in Business, 20134
      Selected business occupations in which workers with a master's degree earned a premium over workers with a bachelor's degree
      Occupation Median annual wage: bachelor's degree Median annual wage: master's degree Wage premium amount5 & percent
      Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents $90,000 $170,000 $80,000
      Logisticians $54,000 $82,000 $28,000
      Financial managers $78,000 $110,000 $32,000
      Market research analysts and marketing specialists $65,000 $90,000 $25,000
      Marketing & sales managers $80,000 $110,000 $30,000
      Transportation, storage and distribution managers $62,000 $90,000 $28,000
      Property, real estate and community association managers $56,000 $76,000 $20,000
  • How to pay for an MBA

    • An MBA education has a high price tag, which is one reason some people debate if it’s a good investment in their future. The consensus is that it usually is. In a 2017 survey of recent MBA graduates published by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), it showed that 95% of those earning an MBA regarded their degree as a good to outstanding value.6

      How to Pay for a Business Education

      Business students should first look for scholarships and grants, then federal aid, and finally private student loans.


      Here are some of the places you can find these scholarships:

      • Business school websites — Most schools have a listing of scholarships and financial awards; in some cases, the awards may be specifically for the school you want to attend, which will narrow the field of scholarship applicants.
      • Professional associations — There are a variety of associations for MBAs, including women’s MBAs and minority MBAs. These associations often offer scholarships.
      • Scholarship search sites — Popular search tools include the College Board scholarship search , CareerOneStop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor , and FastWeb , the private scholarship search engine
      • You can also look for scholarships here.

      Employer assistance for MBAs

      Sometimes employers fund the ongoing education of their employees, particularly in an Executive MBA program, as part of their benefits package. If you are currently working, check with your Human Resources department to see if there are tuition reimbursement programs.

      Federal Aid

      The federal government is one of the best sources of student aid, giving out billions in both need-based and non-need-based student loans and grants. To apply for federal aid, you will need to fill out the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

      Private Student Loans

      If you’ve looked at other financing sources and you still need more money for school, a private student loan could be the way to fill in the gap. SunTrust offers private student loans for undergraduates and graduate students, including those in business programs. Compare our private student loans.

Why do so many undergrads gravitate to business? Along with there being many business jobs in the workforce, perhaps one reason so many students choose business as their major is that right out of undergraduate school, business grads have among the highest starting salaries after Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degrees, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Link opens a new window.

Salaries of Recent Business Grads Compared with Other Majors2
Bachelor's Degree Class of 2016 Median First Year Starting Salary

Computer and Information Sciences
& Support Services




Mathematics and Statistics


Management, Marketing & Support Services


Health Professions


Liberal Arts and Humanities


Social Sciences




Journalism & Related Programs


Visual  and Performing Arts




Getting a business major provides training for many different types of positions. Within the field of business, there are a wide range of job types to choose from. So whether you enjoy crunching numbers like an accountant or working directly with people like a training representative, there is probably a business job for you. Not sure which area of business you are interested in? Here are a few of the common non-manager business occupations and brief descriptions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)3:

Common Business-Related Occupations3
Occupation Brief Job Description
Accountants and Auditors Prepare and examine financial records.
Appraisers of Real Estate Provide a value estimate on land and buildings.
Claims Administrators Evaluate insurance claims.
Financial Analysts Provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions, assessing the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.
Fundraisers Organize events and campaigns to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization.
Human Resources Specialists Recruit, screen, interview, and place workers.
Insurance Underwriters Decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms.
Loan Officers Evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses.
Logisticians Analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—from supplier to consumer.
Market Research Analysts Study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service.
Event Planners Coordinate all aspects of events and professional meetings.
Personal Financial Advisors Provide advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement to help individuals manage their finances.
Purchasing Agents Buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.
Training and Development Specialists Help plan, conduct, and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge.

Apply for a SunTrust private student loan and you may be able to transfer the  balance of an existing loan.


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Important Information

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. View and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans.

Union Federal is a federally registered trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Start Student Loan is a trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Both are used by SunTrust under license. Truist Financial Corporation (“SunTrust now Truist” or “Lender”) is the lender of these private student loans and they are not offered in connection with any other lender or the federal government. Cognition Financial Corporation is not an affiliate of Lender.

Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. Lender reserves the right to change or discontinue these programs without notice. These loan programs are subject to approval under the Lender’s credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.

1  Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Facts: Most Popular Majors (2013-14).

2  Source: National Association of Colleges and EmployersLink opens a new window, Spring 2017 Salary Survey, Bachelor’s Degrees/Starting Salary by Academic Major.

3  Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Business and Financial Operations.

4  Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Should I get a master’s degree? (September 2015).

5  The wage premium represents the wage increase for workers with a master's degree over that for workers with a bachelor's degree in the occupation.

6  Source: Graduate Management Admission Council: 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report.

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