Why should you get an MBA?

What is an MBA?

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a post-graduate degree that contains both professional and academic elements. Masters of business administration degrees are designed for students who wish to pursue careers or advance their careers in business including management, consulting and finance. MBA degrees are not required to work in business, but they have become the industry standard for moving into management and executive positions. Depending on a particular program, it can take between 18 months and 2 years to earn an MBA.

The popularity of MBAs has increased over the past decade. In 2008-2009, 168,400 masters of business administration degrees were awarded, which was an increase of 57% from 1998-1999.

Pros and cons

There are both pros and cons to earning an MBA degree. Students should consider the following list with respect to their own situations and goals.

Pros

MBAs Lead to Promotions

For many professionals, an MBA is the best method of earning a promotion with their current employer. A masters of business administration provides students with strategic knowledge and management skills that can help students move into managerial positions.

MBAs Lead to High Salaries

Graduates with professional degrees, including MBAs, average higher salaries and lower rates of unemployment than any other kind of degree holder in the U.S. Most schools keep statistics on their MBA graduates’ job placement rates and salaries. Students should look at these statistics for each school that they are interested in. Although salaries for MBA holders can easily reach 6 figures, it is important to remember that an MBA does not automatically equate to such a high salary.

Cons

MBAs Are Expensive

The cost of 1 year of tuition in an MBA program can range from $25,000 to more than $50,000 per year. Many of the top ranked business schools charge very high tuition fees. Before enrolling in an MBA program, students should be aware of the financial commitment and should be sure of how an MBA degree will help them reach their career goals.

MBAs Can Be Overvalued

Despite the popularity of MBA degrees among students and the business industry alike, some students are beginning to wonder what kind of value an MBA actually has. This has less to do with what students learn in MBA programs and more to do with their expectations for high salaries once they have earned the degree. A degree of any kind doesn’t replace hard work and smart networking, and students must realize that an MBA won’t guarantee them a successful career.

After college: should you work before earning an MBA?

Business schools accept students with years of work experience as well as students with little work experience into their masters of business administration degree programs. However, many schools find that students who have worked before enrolling in an MBA program have more to contribute to the overall learning experience of the class and are more likely to be admitted.

Another incentive for students to put off applying for MBA programs is that their employers might participate in tuition reimbursement programs and help cover the cost of an MBA. Given the high tuition rates at business schools, the additional financial aid from an employer can make returning to school a much more feasible plan.

Working before enrolling in an MBA program can give students the opportunity to learn about the different areas of business and which of these areas they are most interested in. With this knowledge, students can apply to degree programs that best suit their needs, career goals and academic interests.

Differences between an MBA and a masters of arts or science

A masters degree in business administration and a masters degree in the arts or sciences are both post-graduate degrees that are earned after a student obtains a bachelors degree.

Masters degrees in the arts and sciences are usually academic degrees. Once they are awarded, the degree means that a graduate has demonstrated a certain level of mastery over an academic discipline. Students who are interested in specific aspects of business, such as accounting or economics, can earn masters of science degrees in those areas rather than earn a Master of Business Administration.

There is some debate as to whether an MBA is an academic degree or a professional degree. Students in these programs learn the skills necessary to work in the business profession, but also master the academic theories that accompany practical skill sets.

Regardless of the distinctions between a masters degree in business administration and a masters in the arts or the sciences, there are some important similarities. Both types of degrees will take between 1 and 3 years to complete and both degrees can have high tuition rates.

Is an MBA worth the investment?

Whether or not an MBA is worth the investment of a student’s time and money depends on their expectations and professional goals. Students who are interested in working in consulting, business strategies, management, marketing or financial investment may find an MBA worth the investment.

Although a masters of business administration is not a requirement to work in business, the degree can have a positive effect on a student’s job prospects and career advancement.

Working while earning your MBA

It is possible and sometimes preferable to work while earning an MBA. The likelihood of successfully doing both depends on the specific program as well as the student’s individual situation.

Many business schools cater to mid-career professionals who want to earn MBA degrees by designing programs that meet in the evenings and on weekends. A good reason to continue working while attending school is the tuition reimbursement program. Under these programs, employers may offer to pay for all or part of a student’s degree. On top of this, students who work while earning their degrees have jobs upon graduation.

Students who wish to enroll in full-time MBA programs should consider their career and salary expectations before they decide to enroll in business school. A masters in business administration will not necessarily lead to a high paying job at a large company. It is important that students have realistic expectations of what an MBA can do for them.