When I graduated with my BBA a few years ago, I was certain I was done with college forever. While friends were going on to law school or med school, I was already working. An advanced degree? Not for me.
Flash forward three years later. I noticed that a well known automotive company had a new requirement for traditionally entry level positions: an MBA. I also noticed that I missed the variety in things that I learned as I became more specialized in my industry. My initial plan to be content with my Bachelor’s Degree evolved into a new plan: enrolling in an MBA program.
Any major life change can be a shock, and this was no exception. In returning to school, I’ve sacrificed a number of things with no guarantee of increased standard of living in the future. Evening happy hours or dinner dates have been replaced with economics and accounting classes and homework. Out of town business trips have to be scheduled around exams. Discretionary income is now a tuition payment, since I’m working to finance my education in cash rather than pay interest on student loans down the road. Sleep seems to have become a thing of the past, with post-work trips to the gym rescheduled for 6AM.
So, is it worth it?
A study by the Graduate Admissions Council says yes. Their statistics show five key signs that an MBA is worth it:
- 97% of employed alumni graduating in the past 10 years indicated they would still choose to pursue their degree.
- 75% of MBA graduates are working in a job they could not have qualified for without their MBA
- 93% stated that the job they accepted was a perfect fit.
- 82% reported their salary is at or above their expectations.
- The return on investment of an MBA appears strong – 33% of costs were recovered after 1 year; graduates broke even at 4 years; and return on investment was doubled after 10 years. However, this return on investment fails to include opportunity cost, a significant factor.
- Median salary was $113,000 for full time MBA graduates and $106,000 for part time MBA graduates.
However, an infographic from MBAOnline paints a different picture. Over the past year, applicants for full time MBA programs decreased by 9.9% according to the Wall Street Journal. As tuition costs continue to skyrocket, many opt out.
For me, it was a personal choice – a 4 year degree is no longer something that causes a candidate to stand out. I envision that times could continue to change until graduate degrees become a requirement, rather than a preference. Also, as an HR professional, I want to be more aware of the “big picture” to make myself more valuable to my internal customers - the business units I hire for. Mostly, it was the “why not” that led me to enroll. I can tough it out for three years in order to know that I won’t have a door closed in my face in the future for not having an MBA on my resume.
The bottom line: the payoff for an MBA will vary for every graduate, as “value” is a subjective term; and opportunities differ between individuals.