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mba worth it?

Is Getting An MBA Worth It?

With four years of the undergraduate program and perhaps a few years of professional experience as your credentials, are you now considering completing an MBA or other master’s program in a business-related study? Perhaps, are you asking yourself if an MBA is worth it? With comprehensive information and statistics, you can decide for yourself if, indeed, an MBA program is worth the time, effort, and financial resources.

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Completing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree can help professionals achieve job promotions, an increase in salary and perks, as well as enhance their career prospects. Many employers require an MBA degree in leadership or management positions. A master’s program in business or MBA can also provide you with the necessary skills and expertise to start a new business venture.

An MBA program from a prestigious business school can cost approximately $100,000 – a substantial cost for recent MBA graduates and considerable time out of the labor market for early-career workers or professionals. To answer the primary question, “Is getting an MBA worth it?” depends on the students’ career and academic aspirations.

Here, we explore all the essential information related to pursuing an MBA program – including the costs, career pathways, salary information, and the MBA program itself. That said, you can weigh the costs of pursuing an MBA degree with the advantages it brings to your career, and from there, you can proactively decide whether getting an MBA is worth the effort, time, and money.

Use these page jumps to navigate this article:

MBA concept

What Entails A Master Of Business Administration Program?
Best MBA Concentrations
How Much Does An MBA Program Cost And How Long It Takes?
What Do MBA Graduates Think?
Income Potential for MBA Graduates
MBA Graduate Career Pathways
Advancement Opportunities for MBA Graduates
When Is An MBA Program Worth It?
The Bottom Line

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What Entails A Master Of Business Administration Program?

A Master of Business Administration involves a broad range of business-related subjects such as accounting, communication, economics, entrepreneurship, management, and statistics. MBA programs develop and improve the skills and knowledge of aspiring business professionals and managers.

Since its introduction to American education, the MBA program has advanced into a comprehensive and diverse program for professionals in different areas of commerce, management, and business. Today’s MBA programs are meant to strengthen students’ conceptual skills in problem-solving, communication, leadership, and critical thinking while also enabling them to venture in a specific concentration or create their path as a business owner or entrepreneur.

Many colleges and universities offer specializations or concentrations in popular areas of business administration to strengthen students in their specialized professional skills. Typical MBA concentrations include accounting, finance, international business, and marketing, with additional specializations emerging such as entrepreneurship, healthcare leadership, and information technology management.

Business professionals pursue MBA programs because of their comprehensive curriculum, practical application, and versatility. To prepare graduates for the challenges and benefits of keeping leadership roles, MBA courses cover all aspects of business management or business administration.

The best MBA programs integrate formal classroom learning with hands-on training. Students apply new learning and skills during an examination of case studies, collaboration and discussion with colleagues or peers, and simulation exercises. Final thesis or capstone projects generally require students to come up with a mock business, demonstrate a professional portfolio, or develop a mock proposal for an actual client.

A robust MBA foundation prepares graduates to join the diverse and rapidly-evolving business industry; however, these graduate-level capabilities can serve beyond business functions. Soft skills such as effective communication, strategic research analysis, and problem-solving also translate to leadership potential in numerous business sectors and industries.

In an MBA degree, students understand more business-related concepts and learn from other business professionals who have real-time knowledge in a related industry. MBA faculty typically have extensive leadership or managerial experience on top of a terminal degree. They provide students with unique ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the classroom, supplementing textbook subjects with practical expertise and skills.

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Best MBA Concentrations

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Prospective students who are still wondering if getting an MBA is worth it must also consider which MBA concentration they are willing to specialize in. That said, they will know which aspect of the business industry is easier for them to pursue. Also, it is another method to determine which of these concentrations that students are passionate about so they can assess if completing an MBA program is a worthy investment for their career aspirations.

While concentration offerings differ per business school or program, here are some of the famous and high-paying concentrations for MBA learners:

Accounting

Through this MBA concentration, students develop specialized skills in auditing, financial accounting, and managerial accounting. They complete coursework in accounting fundamentals, making financial documents and reports, and relying on financial analysis and reports to come up with management decisions. This concentration prepares MBA graduates to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualifications.

Entrepreneurship

A specialization in Entrepreneurship trains students in development and innovation, with courses discussing small business management, leadership, and venture capital. They take classes on entrepreneurship concepts, developing approaches to promoting new initiatives, and capital funding. MBA graduates can begin their business ventures as entrepreneurs or pursue opportunities within an existing organization creating new projects.

Finance

One of the lucrative-paying options, a concentration in Finance trains students for professions in financial management, corporate finance, and financial services. MBA students will complete courses in investment management, financial analysis for businesses, and risk management. It prepares them for job titles such as chief financial officers, financial consultants, and financial managers.

Healthcare Management and Administration

Healthcare Management and Administration specialization equip students for leadership and managerial positions working for healthcare facilities or organizations. The set of coursework discusses concepts about budgeting for healthcare systems, improving quality outcomes and patient care, and healthcare organizational management. This specialization prepares MBA graduates for positions as healthcare managers, healthcare executives, and healthcare administrators.

Human Resources

In a Human Resources concentration, MBA students take classes in HR management, workplace diversity, and training and development. They learn about issues related to employee benefits, the hiring process, and recruitment. Graduates can pursue professions as human resources managers.

International Business

An International Business specialization imparts skills for international project management, international trade regulations, and global logistics. International Business majors handle transactions across social and cultural boundaries, look out for growth opportunities in developing countries, and monitor global financial markets. Graduates can land in roles as business development managers, international business analysts, and global business administrators.

Leadership

A Leadership concentration prepares students for managerial and leadership positions in multiple industries. They learn organizational psychology, business ethics, and organizational principles. This concentration prepares MBA graduates for positions in general management, training, and development, or work as a business owner. It also leads to executive-level positions in numerous organizations.

Management and Strategy

A concentration in Management and Strategy trains MBA students to develop and execute the corporate strategy from a management role. They complete courses in operational management, corporate consulting, and strategic organizational leadership. This MBA specialization offers additional training in the corporate strategic design and managerial theory. Graduates have the opportunity to work as a strategic planning director, manager, or corporate consultant.

Marketing

Under a Marketing concentration, students learn how to perform research, develop a marketing strategy, and implement specific strategies to promote a business or organization. MBA students will complete courses in data analysis to assess marketing strategies, database analysis for marketing, business management, and marketing research. The Marketing MBA concentration prepares students for roles as marketing directors and marketing managers.

Project Management

Project Management is a specialization with career opportunities in numerous sectors. This concentration trains MBA students to supervise or manage a project from concept to completion. They will study data analysis, cost projections, budget management, and organizational management while also developing the practical skills required to supervise a project. MBA graduates can work in tech, manufacturing, finance, and other business industries.

Supply Chain Management

A specialization in Supply Chain Management trains students to learn more about logistics or the process of acquiring, developing, storing, and distributing a product. They study the production process, warehouse management, purchasing and procurement, and transportation management.

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How Much Does An MBA Program Cost And How Long does It Take?

Completing an MBA involves a significant amount of time and money. Prospective students expect to have at least two years in business school after college if they prefer to attend a full-time MBA program. It will generally take you at least 36 months to earn an MBA degree if you attend the program on a part-time basis.

Also, it is costly, with tuition and fees reaching $60,000 for a two-year MBA program. If you are planning to pursue your master’s in a top business school, it can cost you approximately $100,000 or even higher. The good news is that students have opportunities to reduce these costs through scholarship programs and grants. If you are already working, you may check with your company or employers to see if they offer tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement programs. This may indicate you will have to work while completing your MBA degree.

While you may not necessarily require an undergraduate program in business administration or a major related to enrolling in an MBA program, the requirements differ per academic institution. For instance, some colleges or universities will require their applicants who haven’t enrolled in a business-related study to complete prerequisite business classes before enrolling in an MBA program.

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What Do MBA Graduates Think?

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) facilitates regular research surveys on how graduates from different business schools across the US rate their experience during their MBA studies and after graduating from the program. In a survey of 10,882 alumni respondents from 274 graduate business programs, 94% highlighted their business school program as fulfilling, 89% described it was professionally fulfilling, and 73% described that it was financially worthwhile. It is not surprising that employed MBA graduates found it more fulfilling than those who are unemployed.

Some of the highlighted benefits that were described by respondents include:

  • Preparation for Managerial and Leadership Roles
  • Opportunities for Faster Career Advancement
  • Increase in Earning Potential
  • Preparation to Work in Globally Diverse Organizations/Companies
  • Preparation for their Chosen Career Path
  • Enhancement of Professional Networks
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Income Potential for MBA Graduates

One of the most frequently associated reasons for completing a graduate program is the opportunity to increase your earning potential. According to the Salary Survey facilitated by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, completing an MBA degree may offer you a higher starting wage than you could obtain with just an undergraduate degree in business.

On the other hand, not every master’s degree program holder receives a premium wage relative to the salary of an undergraduate degree holder. As a result, prospective MBA students should estimate their return on investment. In assessing the benefit and true worth of an MBA program, numerous factors must be considered, including lifetime benefits, short-term and long-term salary potential, and program cost.

Median Wage By MBA Program

Master of Business Administration (MBA), Accounting – $74,000
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Finance – $99,000
Master of Business Administration (MBA) – International Business – $94,000
Master of Business Administration (MBA), Marketing – $91,000

Average Wage By Degree Level

Associate of Business Administration – $54,000
Bachelor of Business Administration – $63,000
Master of Business Administration – $88,000

Average Wage By Master’s Degree Program

Master of Accounting (MAcc) – $71,000
Master of Business Administration (MBA) – $88,000
Master of Management (MMgt/MM) – $77,000

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MBA Graduate Career Pathways

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Whether you’re transitioning into a completely different profession, exploring new career opportunities, or planning to advance in your current profession, an MBA program is the gold standard for prospective employers and business professionals. The set of coursework is developed to provide you with soft skills that potential employers desire the most such as time management, problem-solving, leadership, and communication. The opportunities are almost endless for MBA graduates – whether they aspire to a profession in an emerging field or a traditional business setting.

Chief Financial Officer

Chief Financial Officers earn executive positions within the upper management level and manage all financial aspects of an organization or company. They may also supervise mid-level financial managers or teams; however, their work generally consists of high-level responsibilities such as budget committee meetings and fundraising activities. An MBA degree is the most common requirement for landing executive positions including CFO, COO, and CEO. Though credentials vary, numerous CFOs of large companies or corporations have an MBA degree.

Marketing Director

Marketing Directors manage all aspects of marketing operations for a non-profit organization, company, corporation, or business. They may work in a supervisory or executive capacity, promotions, advertising, and direct marketing. Several marketing directors with an MBA degree and advanced qualifications can earn six-figure wages in a senior role in companies or organizations.

Senior Accountant

Senior Accountants assess and prepare financial records and taxes for individuals and organizations. While entry-level accountant professions generally require only an undergraduate degree, numerous employers prefer applicants with a master’s program or an MBA with an Accounting concentration. Accountants are consistently in demand and can expect lucrative and steady employment opportunities over the next decade due to an increasingly complex tax system in the United States, a growing economy, and globalization.

Vice President of Information Technology

Vice Presidents of IT organizations manage internal and external operations of their companies at the highest level. The executive decisions made by these professionals lead the operations for an entire business or organization, including outreach efforts, and budgeting and resource allocation. They may also work with investors, stockholders, and board members. Vice presidents and other top management positions are among the lucrative roles in the country, and MBA degree holders with extensive professional experience can expect favorable wage and employment opportunities in these positions.

Post-Secondary Teacher

If you would prefer to work in academia due to less pressure and more flexibility, you can work as an instructor or professor in a college or university. These professionals educate individuals and mold them into future business leaders and managers in their chosen industry. They can share their business-related knowledge and skills when they integrate their work experience in a classroom setting.

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Advancement Opportunities for MBA Graduates

According to the survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, 89% of business school graduates are employed, where 79% of them are in the business sectors and 10% are self-employed. The survey found that approximately two-thirds of MBA graduates are employed in multinational companies. About one-third of them are in companies with more than 25,000 employees, while the rest thrive in publicly traded organizations, Global Fortune 500 organizations, Global Fortune 100 organizations, and startups.

Over 75% of MBA graduates express high satisfaction or contentment over the advancement opportunities they enjoy. Several MBA graduates of 15 years ago already hold C-Suite and other managerial- or executive-level roles after earning professional experience.

The survey also highlights that MBA degree holders are commonly found in the accounting, finance, products and services, and technology industries. More fresh MBA graduates have been pursuing careers in the products and services and technology sectors, while earlier batches found their profession in the consulting, and accounting sectors. MBA graduates work in roles, including marketing and sales, accounting, finance, and general management.

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When Is An MBA Program Worth It?

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An MBA program is only worth the effort, expense, and time when the student plans to pursue a career in management, in a business-related field, or as a startup founder. For those employed in other sectors, unless they are in leadership or management positions, an MBA degree may not be needed.

On the contrary, not all MBA programs are created equal. The number of business schools, colleges, and universities offering an MBA program is increasing. Unless a candidate obtains a degree from a reputable program, it might not be as relevant as expected, while pursuing a top-level business school increases the value of the MBA program. That said, hiring managers and recruiters are not likely to recognize an MBA degree completed from an unknown or online-only institution to have the same bearing as from a top institution. For professionals sacrificing a few years in their career to go back to school in a not-so reputable program could end up being a waste of opportunity, time, and financial resources.

Recruiters also know that simply having MBA credentials doesn’t automatically guarantee employment. Some of them believe that individuals who earned leadership roles with the degree would also have achieved without it. Also, earning an MBA degree won’t make an applicant stand out if they exhibit negative behavior such as bossiness, slow to adapt, or insensitivity.

While numerous entrepreneurs earn MBAs, startups don’t necessarily hire candidates with MBA degrees. Instead, they prefer candidates who think out-of-the-box who can offer a different perspective and innovative ideas.

An MBA degree might aid in getting a job interview, but it won’t guarantee the applicant to get the job. On the contrary, individuals with extensive professional experience pursuing the advancement of their careers can grab opportunities for promotion and growth with a part-time or e-MBA program.

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The Bottom Line

Completing an MBA program can develop one’s career path or help land a lucrative-paying career. The good news is that the expense is only offset if the MBA degree is completed from a top-tier business school or academic institution and if the professional path ventured is business-related. Despite the cost and benefit comparison, most MBA graduates report very satisfactory experience and high value from their completed MBA programs.

If you’ve already decided that you’ll pursue an MBA program, you’ll have to consider whether you want to attend a part-time or full-time MBA program. If you are a fresh college graduate, you may choose for an Early Career MBA while the Executive MBA is a suitable program for you if you are already a seasoned executive. An online MBA program is ideal for individuals who don’t reside near a college or university that offers an MBA degree or who don’t have the time to go to school due to their hectic schedules. Some traditional MBA programs provide you with distance learning alternatives.

If a student doesn’t have the time to juggle personal and professional obligations, can’t afford the expense, or can’t enroll into a top program, there are other great options to pursue such as a Master’s program in Economics or Finance, or the CFA program.

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