MBA students learn business from a manager's perspective while also developing leadership skills. They study business subjects such as finance, analytics, and marketing to build management capabilities. Programs also develop communication, strategic thinking, and team leadership abilities.
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate degree designed for current and aspiring managers. Open to professionals from business and non-business backgrounds, it aims to enhance your ability to supervise staff, manage teams, and potentially lead an organisational unit.
Australian MBA programs typically follow a similar structure, consisting of 12 subjects. Eight are core units, while the remaining four focus on a specialisation. This approach ensures students develop a well-rounded set of skills, with particular strength in an area of business management.
Related: What Is an MBA?
Based on our detailed analysis of Australian MBA degrees, these core subjects – i.e., ones every student completes, irrespective of specialisation – are the 12 most commonly taught.
Australian universities offer similar degree structures to those you will find in other countries, although there are some differences. In terms of the core subjects, our MBA students are more likely to study project management than operations management. Economics studies tend to be concentrated in global trade and markets subjects, reflecting Australia's open economy. Communication skills are covered, though not usually in a dedicated subject.
Almost every MBA program in Australia includes a core subject in marketing. Students learn to develop and implement marketing strategies, both traditional and digital. Key areas of focus include understanding customer behaviour, using data and analytics strategically, and applying marketing principles in technology-driven environments. MBA graduates are ready to craft marketing campaigns and strategies relevant to today's market demands.
Examples: Digital Marketing; Marketing Strategy, Analytics and Development; Marketing in the Age of Technology; Marketing for Managers.
Related: MBA in Digital Marketing Online in Australia
Finance is a core subject in Australian MBA programs, teaching essential financial concepts vital for business management. It covers the time value of money, assessing risks and returns, and analysing capital investments. Students learn to make informed financial decisions, manage budgets effectively, and grasp the impact of financial strategies on an organisation's performance.
Examples: Finance for Managers; Corporate Finance; Finance Fundamentals; Financial Analytics for Managerial Decisions.
Related: Online MBA in Finance Programs in Australia
MBA courses strive to teach Leadership, a subject designed to enhance skills in guiding teams and organisations. Units can cover a range of topics, including positive leadership models, communication skills, change management, and the psychological aspects of leading people. Students are encouraged to reflect on their leadership style and learn how to adapt it to a global business environment.
Examples: The Positive Leader; Management and Leadership Skills; Leading People and Change; Personal Branding and Authentic Leadership.
Related: Why Study Leadership and Management?
4. People Management
People Management addresses the complexities of managing individual and team behaviors in organisations. This subject encompasses creating positive workplace cultures, effective conflict management, change management, and valuing diversity. It focuses on enhancing communication skills, understanding group dynamics, and developing leadership strategies for managing people and teams effectively.
Examples: Organisational Behaviour; Management and Leadership Skills; Leading People and Change; People and Organisations.
Related: Masters in Human Resource Management Online
5. Business Analytics
Data analytics in an MBA program focuses on teaching students how to analyse and interpret business data using statistical tools. Topics include data modelling, hypothesis testing, regression modelling, and understanding statistical distributions. Students use tools like Excel to perform these analyses, learning to apply these concepts in real-world business scenarios.
Examples: Business Analytics; Data Analysis and Decision Modelling; Data-Driven Decision-Making; People Analytics.
Related: MBA in Business Analytics Online in Australia
Strategy subjects in MBA programs cover strategic planning, decision-making, and competitive advantage in business. These units blend theory and practice, focusing on environmental analysis, strategic capabilities, change management, and design thinking. The aim is to equip students with skills for effective leadership and strategic direction in various business contexts.
Examples: Corporate Strategy; Strategy and Case Analysis; Strategy and Negotiation; Strategy.
Related: How to Use Business Analytics for Decision Making
7. Global Business Economics
The subject Global Business Economics centres around the economic challenges and strategies of international business. It covers international trade theories, market dynamics, and the economic impact on multinational corporations. This course emphasises understanding and managing the macro- and micro-economic factors that influence global business operations and decision-making.
Examples: Global Business; Multinational Corporations and International Markets; Managerial Economics.
Related: Economics Degrees Online in Australia
8. Corporate Governance and Ethics
Corporate Governance studies cover the evolution and importance of governance in business. It focuses on the roles and responsibilities of company directors, board structures, and corporate accountability. Students learn to apply governance principles in various contexts, emphasising ethical and sustainable business strategy.
Examples: Corporate Governance for Managers; Governance and Sustainability.
Related: What Is Sustainable Leadership? Meaning & Importance
9. Accounting for Managers
In some MBA programs, Accounting for Managers is a core subject that introduces students to the essentials of financial and management accounting. This unit is viewed from a business manager's perspective, focusing on the evaluation of accounting information to make decisions. Topics include understanding financial statements, cost-volume-profit analysis, and working capital management. Students learn to apply accounting principles to real business practices.
Examples: Accounting for Managers; Accounting for Decision Makers.
Related: Graduate Certificate in Accounting Online
10. Managing Information Systems
Managing Information Systems focuses on the effective use of information systems for competitive advantage. Students learn about system planning, implementation, and evaluation, as well as the management of information infrastructure and resources. The subject also addresses the role of information systems in decision support and knowledge management, emphasising their alignment with business strategies.
Examples: Managing Information Systems; Data Information: Management, Security, Privacy and Ethics; Digital Risk Management and Information Security.
Related: MBA in Technology Management Online
11. Project Management
In an MBA degree, Project Management covers essential aspects of managing projects. Students learn about initiating projects, managing time and costs, and handling risks and quality. They also study team dynamics and use project management software. The subject prepares students to plan, execute, and assess projects in various industries.
Examples: Project Management Principles; Introduction to Project Management; Project Management Techniques.
Related: Project Manager Degrees Online in Australia
12. Business Consulting
Business Consulting is a core subject in some programs. Students gain tools and techniques for effective consultancy. The focus is on the entire consulting process, from project initiation to implementation. Students learn to manage and deliver consulting projects, addressing client needs and maximising team performance. The subject is ideal for those considering a career in consulting or understanding the benefits of engaging a consultant.
Examples: Business Consulting; Work Integrated Learning in Business Consulting.
Related: Graduate Certificate in Business Consulting and Technology Implementation
Many MBA programs give students the opportunity to specialise. Typically, you need to complete four subjects within a specialty stream to qualify for a major.