Is getting your master of business administration (MBA) worth it?
This primary question about your higher education spawns several other queries you need to answer before you enroll in an MBA program.
An MBA is often referenced as a great way to get ahead in your profession. It can open the doors to advancement and careers you might not otherwise be qualified for.
But is it right for you?
Let’s examine the reasons people often seek a post-graduate degree, the industries for which it makes the most sense, and how you can approach getting your MBA.
Why Get an MBA?
Often, the main reason people consider pursuing an MBA is to become more of an expert in their current profession. It’s also a signal to employers who are looking to hire people with advanced degrees.
Many schools offer several types of MBA programs based on the field—finance, marketing, public administration, etc. Those who want to become entrepreneurs also may benefit from earning an MBA.
The higher-level coursework is generally aimed at the managerial and theoretical aspects of a particular industry:
- Strategic thinking
- Professional management
- Team leadership
- Crafting a business plan
- Quantitative analysis
In addition to the skills you’ll develop in your MBA program, there are also the obvious financial considerations. As of April 2015, the average salary for those with a bachelor’s degree is about $65,000, compared to $95,000 for people with an MBA, according to figures from Indeed.
The return on investment from an MBA remains robust, Paul Danos, dean of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, told Fortune.
“I know of no other educational experience that can match the total value proposition of a two-year, full-time MBA,” he said. “It is a transformative experience that enables an engineer to become a financier, a high school teacher to become a marketing executive, or an auditor to become a mergers and acquisition specialist for a top corporation. And the options available to graduates keep expanding globally and the monetary return remains strong.”
That international facet was important for Aravind Arasavilli, who has put his education to work in his native country.
Industries and MBAs
The decision on whether you should pursue your MBA depends somewhat on your industry focus and where you see your future career.
An advanced degree in journalism, for example, may not benefit you financially as much as an MBA in finance or marketing.
If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown of median salaries and how an MBA impacts earnings, Monster has a good collection of careers and how industries stack up for workers who have earned their MBAs.
You should also note that about 65 percent of MBA graduates switched fields after obtaining their degree; many go back to school looking to make a career change, according to Bloomberg.
As for the most popular fields that MBA grads want to go into, the numbers haven’t varied much in recent years, according to MBA Focus. Its top seven are:
- Consumer products
Before opting to enroll in an MBA program, do some research about your industry—or the one you want to move into.
If you can, set up informational interviews with higher-ups in the profession and try to determine if getting an MBA makes sense in your field of interest.
How Do I Get My MBA?
If you’re ready to jump into a post-graduate degree program, there are a few steps you need to go through.
The first is picking an accredited school that has the emphasis you want. Some universities even allow you to build your own MBA program.
Your location, current work situation and timeline will all weigh into your decision. Maybe you need the ability to take MBA classes online, favor smaller classes or are worry about the admissions criteria. Check with your school’s representatives to go over your options.
While it typically takes two years to earn your degree, some universities offer accelerated MBA programs that allow you to complete your schooling in as few as 18 months. Flexibility can be a big factor for people seeking an MBA, as many are already working full time.
Is getting an MBA worth it? Graduates say yes.
Nearly 95 percent of people with MBAs highly value their degree, according a website focusing on the business school experience, and almost 80 percent say their expectations for the return on investment on their degree were met or exceeded.
Whether you’re an international student or an executive looking to climb the corporate ladder, an MBA can help you advance your career, earn more money, develop a stronger business network and develop the skills it takes to succeed.