Is an MBA Worth It? Pros, Cons, and How to Decide

Deciding to pursue an MBA is a huge commitment and it can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons. Here is our guide to help you determine whether getting an MBA is a good fit for you.

Posted January 17, 2024

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A Master of Business Administration, otherwise known as an MBA, is a two-year graduate degree. Students learn about a wide range of management skills, including business administration and finance, and usually have the opportunity to specialize. It covers a wide range of subjects from accounting, applied statistics, business communication, entrepreneurship, business ethics, and other relevant subjects.

Professionals gravitate towards an MBA when they want to further their education or improve their career, compensation, and job opportunities. Aspiring entrepreneurs will also learn the necessary leadership skills and mechanics of how to start a business.

A Closer Look

During the first year of an MBA degree, students will focus on more general coursework, including finance, accounting, marketing, communication, ethics, research, and other related subjects. The second-year is usually spent on a more focused curriculum, through electives, internships, or global opportunities.

An Executive Master of Business Administration degree (EMBA) is also available for individuals who have years of experience in the workforce. Classes can be taken during the weekends or in the evenings to allow students to continue working full-time.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time

The full-time MBA program is best for students who can fully focus on studying for the two years needed to complete the degree. Most MBA students who opt for the full-time program are younger and able to step away from their current job. The part-time program is favored by individuals who still want to or need to work full-time.

Admission Requirements

The most common requirements for MBA admissions include recommendation letters, a GMAT/GRE score, essays, undergraduate transcripts, a resume, and an application fee. Applications are submitted in different rounds so students can choose the best round for their schedule. International applicants may be required to take the IELTS depending on the university.

Many top business schools also offer deferred admissions open to graduating undergraduate students. Matriculated students will earn their spot after graduation and defer enrollment for two to five years in order to earn professional experience, pursue entrepreneurial projects, or otherwise prepare themselves.

Make sure to check the specific university for their requirements as there are some discrepancies.

The Pros and Cons of Getting an MBA

Pros

  • For those who currently work in business, or who want to in the future, an MBA is usually a good choice because it will allow you to gain the skills and knowledge required to differentiate yourself.
  • MBAs also allow job applicants to gain an edge on their competition for job interviews or promotions.
  • Many jobs offer higher salaries for those who have earned an MBA so there is a financial incentive as well.
  • Any advanced degree can help students expand their skillset and, therefore, be qualified for different jobs within and outside of business. By taking lots of different courses, it’s also easier to experience different sectors of business and find the best fit.
  • A big aspect of an MBA is networking, with classmates, professors, and through events and clubs. Throughout the two years, students are able to grow and diversify their professional networks and expand their career horizons.

Cons

  • While earning an MBA does help with job opportunities, it does not guarantee an ideal career position. Some sectors are harder to break into without direct experience.
  • Going to an online or unknown school might not get your MBA noticed. There is still some bias if it’s not from top schools.
  • MBAs from schools outside of the M7 network are not as competitive and will likely not provide as many opportunities as a top school.
  • This advanced degree is most beneficial to those who want to work in a business or management-related field. Applicants interested in other fields may not get as many advantages from an MBA.
  • Any advanced degree takes a lot of time and work. Those two years, or more for part-time and EMBAs, will require a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

Financing your MBA

MBAs can be a very costly venture but there are different financing options available. Some schools and universities offer merit-based and need-based scholarships. Other options include federal and private loans; many federal loans have a lower interest rate or no interest rate for the duration of the degree. Private loans are a viable option for those with higher credit scores. Lots of companies will also sponsor or provide financial assistance for their employees. Some of the companies that do this include Deloitte, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Apple, Intel, Raytheon, Chevron, Ford, Procter & Gamble, and AT&T. For students who are planning to enter the public service or non-profit sectors, there are some grant and loan forgiveness programs. For example, Stanford GSB will pay a percentage of the student’s loans and the Yale School of Management will help repay annual need-based loans for those who qualify.

Is an MBA Worth it?

The average cost of an MBA degree is around $150,000 plus living expenses, which are usually around $50,000, depending on the location of the university. Aside from that, there may be additional costs like international or domestic travel. If you are taking the two-year, full-time route, it’s important to factor in the loss of a salary for that duration. Overall, the cost will likely be around $350,000.

However, it’s important to compare that to the return on investment. Based on a survey from 2021, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) forecasted that MBA graduates would earn an average salary of $115,000 while those without MBAs would earn an average of $65,000-75,000. There are many different factors that affect salary expectations, including industry, location, years of experience, and undergraduate school. MBA.com offers an MBA ROI calculator for a more detailed report.

Based on this information, yes, getting your MBA degree is worth it if it aligns with the applicant’s reasons and career goals. Increased job opportunities, a potentially higher salary, and an expanded network can all come from getting an MBA. Also, it is a good choice for those who want to eventually take management positions that will require a slightly different skillset and leadership capabilities.

Before diving into the MBA application process, it’s important for anyone interested to know their “why.” Graduate studies are a grueling process but if students are able to follow a clear goal and remember their purpose, it will be easier to succeed.

Where do I Start?

If you are planning on getting your MBA, the first step is researching schools and talking to current and past MBA candidates. Here at Leland, we’ve got lots of resources to help you succeed at every point in the process.

These articles will help get you started:

Final Note

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