Do you hold an advanced degree, like a master’s in business administration, or MBA? Good for you! An MBA is a valuable asset that you definitely want to highlight when searching for a job. So, if you’re wondering whether to include your advanced degree on your resume, the answer is a resounding “yes” in most instances. And now that you’re clear on that, the next thing to clarify is how to list an MBA on your resume.
The primary goal of any resume is to get the reader's attention and land a job interview. Including a comprehensive education section relevant to each position you apply for is a critical step in meeting this goal. Many job seekers, however, stress about the education section of their resumes. They wonder how much information to include, which degrees to add and in what order, and whether to include their graduation year. The list of considerations goes on.
You want your resume to stand out from the crowd to gain a competitive advantage in any job search. To accomplish that feat, you must ensure the entire presentation appropriately depicts the value you can add to any position. Educational details can help establish your credentials and suitability for the job – like holding an advanced MBA degree.
In this post, we'll cover why you should include an MBA on your resume, where to highlight it, and how to list an MBA on your resume to stand out, with examples.
Yes, you should include your MBA on your resume
Your MBA is a significant achievement you worked hard to obtain. Employers can't help but be impressed by the degree, as they recognize the level of dedication it represents. An MBA says you can get things done, and let's face it – that's one of the key qualities employers are looking for.
When you know how to list an MBA on your resume, you can use it to enhance your credibility and increase employer interest. With that said, if you’ve ever had anyone tell you that you shouldn’t include your MBA in your resume, you can choose to ignore it.
How to list an MBA on your resume: the guidelines
Below are some simple guidelines to help you list an MBA on your resume using standard best practices. If you follow these tips, you should be more easily able to document your achievement:
You can opt to include the full name of the degree, Master of Business Administration, or just the initials, MBA. However, it would be best to have both to encompass all keyword variations. Doing so gives you a leg up in bypassing an employer's applicant tracking system software that looks for and recognizes both variations.
The MBA can be written with periods – M.B.A. – or without. However, you want to be consistent and choose one or the other to use throughout your resume.
Depending on how you obtained your education, you can list your MBA before or after your school's name. If you obtained your MBA at a different school than your other degrees, the standard is to list the degree name first, with the schools listed after each degree. List your most advanced degree first, and the rest in reverse chronological order. However, if you obtained all your degrees at the same college, you could list the school first and the degrees underneath that heading. You would still list the most advanced degree first and the others in reverse chronological order. On the other hand, if it helps a required degree stand out, it's also okay to list the degrees separately with the standard formatting mentioned, even if you received them from the same school.
Honorariums can be included but include only the most relevant awards and honors. If listing a GPA, only do so if it's 3.5 or higher.
The college's business school may add flavor to the resume. However, it is unnecessary unless you feel it adds value.
Aside from including your MBA in the education section of your resume, you can highlight it in your professional summary or profile, in the competencies section, in your work accomplishments section, or following your name to help it stand out, though the latter is rarely recommended.
It's advised to only use MBA after your name in the heading of your resume if the position requires the degree. Otherwise, don't include it, as this is typically reserved for PhDs and can be frowned upon when others do it for lower-level degrees.
Don't overdo it when including your MBA. Including it in the education section and one to two more areas throughout the resume is sufficient. You don't want to come across as boastful or too academically focused by highlighting it too much.
It’s great if you can identify a job you held with one work accomplishment tied to your MBA and include it within the work history and accomplishments section of your resume. This provides a real-life scenario and insight into how your MBA supports success on the job.
If you received your MBA more than three to four years ago, don’t include the year it was conferred.
You only need to include the MBA specialization if it is relevant to the position.
When not to include your MBA on your resume
So far, the consensus is that including your MBA on your resume is a positive. In rare instances, though, you might choose to exclude it. For example, if you're applying for a position where an MBA is irrelevant or would not add value, you might opt to leave it off.
Also, suppose you're concerned that an MBA might make you appear overqualified for a lower-level position. In that case, consider if it will help or hinder your chances of an interview. Of course, you can also include it and then explain its purpose and relevance to the position in your cover letter while, at the same time, addressing your concern about appearing overqualified and why you're interested in the position at your level.
Examples of how to list an MBA on a resume
In addition to the basic guidelines already provided, here are some additional tips to help you properly list your MBA information.
In the education section of your resume, you should always list educational achievements in a chronological resume format, in reverse order - also known as reverse chronological order. For example:
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Marketing, 2012 ABC University, Town, State
Business & Marketing, 2009 XYZ College, Town, State
If you achieved high marks or honors, you could include your grade point average details or high honors determination, as well. If you choose to include either, place it at the end of each listing right after the year. For example:
Master of Business Administration (MBA), 2022, Honors: magma cum laude ABC University, Town, State
Master of Business Administration (MBA), 2022, GPA 3.9 ABC University, Town, State
Again, only include your GPA if you maintained a 3.5 or higher. Otherwise, leave it off.
You can even include coursework in your description, but only the most relevant courses. Never include courses that don't have direct relevance to the desired job. That holds for your thesis as well. Only include information about your chosen thesis if it involves a topic relevant to the position. If you graduated more than a couple of years ago, adding extras like coursework and thesis are not things you need to worry about because your experience will start to trump what you did in college.
To reiterate, be sure that you list both "Master of Business Administration" and the acronym "MBA" on your resume. This is because most companies use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) which is software that automatically screens your professional resume to see if you're qualified for the position. Including the spelled-out version and the acronym increases your chances of an ATS picking up on the degree and deeming your resume relevant for positions.
How to include relevant coursework or a specialization with your MBA
If you have relevant coursework or an area of specialization that's relevant to your desired position, then it's worth including. You would list this information following the degree title:
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Marketing Management ABC University, Anytown, Anystate
If the area of specialization or coursework isn’t relevant to the position, don’t include it.
Listing an MBA on your resume after your name
There has been a lot of debate on whether you should list your MBA designation after your name on a resume.
The answer is that it depends on the position you're targeting.
If the job position requires or prefers a candidate with an MBA, then you should include it with your name in the heading section of your resume.
If the MBA isn’t directly relevant to or required for the position then you should only include it under the education section of your resume and in one or two other areas, like the professional summary and work accomplishments section.
Example of MBA after a name on a resume
How to list an MBA in progress on a resume
You might wonder if you should include an MBA in progress on your resume. The answer is "Yes, if it's relevant." So how would you highlight the "in progress" aspect?
If you are currently pursuing your MBA and have a good idea about when you'll be finished, note that. You can use the same format you'd use for any other MBA listing, with one adjustment: an anticipated completion date or notation that it's "in progress" or "ongoing."
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Marketing, Expected Completion: 2019 ABC University, Anytown, Anystate
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Emphasis in Finance, In Progress ABC University, Anytown, Anystate
If you're applying for a job that requires an MBA with an expected start date of April 1 and you graduate June 30, you also want to include the month and date.
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Emphasis in Marketing, Expected Completion: June 30, 2022 ABC University, Anytown, Anystate
Mentioning your MBA in your cover letter
A resume speaks to the past, while a cover letter allows you to share more of your story and speaks to the future. It's essential to mention your MBA in your cover letter if it's relevant to the job. You may indicate your journey to achieving your MBA, how it's allowed you to improve your work performance, or how it's helped you support the organization's success.
Should you include your MBA anywhere else?
You might have seen some people include their MBA in their email signature or elsewhere. During the job application process, it's wisest only to highlight your MBA on your resume and speak to it in your cover, as appropriate. You don't want to overdo it by including it in too many places. In general, forgo including it in your email signature.
Outside of that, you can and should include it in your LinkedIn profile. This will help your LinkedIn profile align with your resume and vice versa. Plus, for recruiters seeking people with an MBA, it will help your profile stand out.
Properly include your MBA on your resume to stand out
As you can see, listing an MBA and including it appropriately on your resume is easy if you consider the tips and insights provided. By following the simple guidelines, you can easily add your MBA to your resume to bolster your credibility and increase the likelihood of getting that coveted job interview you desire.
You worked hard for your advanced degree and deserve to display it proudly and honorably on your resume. You have a few options for where and how to include it to help you get noticed in the best way possible.
Want to ensure you’re creating a resume with your MBA listing that will land you an interview? Why not submit your resume for a free review today?
Ronda Suder, Professional Writer
With a drive to foster safety and expand possibilities through writing, performing, and working with others, Ronda brings 25 years of combined experience in HR, recruiting, career advice, communications, mental and behavioral health, and storytelling to her work. She’s a certified career coach and holds a Master’s in Human Resources, a Master’s in Film and Media Production, and a Master’s in Counseling and Development. As a writer, she’s covered topics ranging from finance and rock mining to leadership and internet technology, with a passion for career advice and mental-health-related topics. When she’s not at her computer, Ronda enjoys connecting with others, personal growth and development, spending time with her beloved pooch, and entertainment through movies, television, acting, and other artistic endeavors. You can connect with Ronda on LinkedIn and through her website.