When people hear the word mba, they might think of smiling business leaders on the front cover of Forbes or images of world financial centres filled with suited white-collar workers tapping away at their iPhones. And indeed, an MBA is a popular stepping stone for career progression at many large corporations and is also a valuable credential for aspiring entrepreneurs and start-up founders.

An MBA can be completed on a college campus, entirely online or via a hybrid of the two. It’s also possible to find specialized MBA programs that focus on emerging areas like sustainability and artificial intelligence. In a typical MBA program, students complete coursework in core business functions like finance, marketing and operations before focusing on specialized topics that align with their personal career ambitions.

In addition to building business acumen, an MBA program teaches leadership skills that are applicable across industries and roles. Taking an MBA is also a great way to build a strong network of peers and alumni, and some programs offer mentoring, networking events and internship opportunities that can lead to future job prospects.

An MBA is a big commitment and it can be expensive, with tuition fees at the top-ranked schools running into six-figure sums. But there is a strong case to be made for the value of the degree, and there is no shortage of compelling success stories from people who have achieved their goals with an MBA.