Is an MBA Worth It?

If you’re lucky enough to be in a management position at your company, you might be thinking of giving yourself a step up in the business world by getting your Master of Business Administration graduate degree. Like any level of education, it requires a lot of time and money to complete. Consider these factors when you make your decision.

Pro: Key to networking

Depending on where you obtain your MBA, this advanced degree could offer you passage into elite levels of your profession. Elissa Sangster, CEO of the Forté Foundation, told U.S. News and World Report in October 2019 that MBA programs can be very instrumental in getting your foot in the door in difficult industries, like Wall Street or Silicon Valley, if your school has strong ties to them. If you’re looking to break through and find a good job in a city outside of your existing business network, you can choose a business school there to help you meet new people and make connections.

While this might seem like a great reason to sign up now for an MBA, Sangster does caution that an MBA doesn’t guarantee instant success. “There’s nothing about getting an MBA that doesn’t require initiative from that point all the way through your career,” she says.

Con: It takes time and money

If you sign up for an MBA program, there’s no getting around how much time and money it will cost you. Traditional MBA programs take around two years from start to finish, but that’s only if you stop working and commit to a full-time schedule. If you’re not financially able to do that, some schools offer part-time options, but Ashley Stahl of Forbes reports that can limit what schools you attend. It doesn’t help, she adds, that it more than doubles the time to graduation, setting your degree five years out from the start date.

Beyond the time it takes to get an MBA, attending school also costs money – and lots of it. Ilana Kowarski of U.S. News and World Report says that tuition at the top 15 business schools in the country easily blew past $60,000 in annual tuition, with most of them heading north of $70,000. If you are still paying off student loans from your undergraduate degree, that’s not an insignificant amount of money to add on top of that. While all of these numbers will intimidate you even if you have great financial health, it’s fair to point out that several schools offer merit scholarships or financial aid. Before you sign up for a loan, consider looking to see what financial assistance you qualify for and if there are any scholarships for your life experiences.

Pro: Learn more outside of your specialty

If you earned a degree outside of business for your undergraduate studies, an MBA is a great way to learn more about how different areas of a company function. Even if you did get a degree in business, Kowarski reports that an MBA program offers a broader look outside of your chosen specialty. Michael Provitera, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Barry University in Florida, told Kowarski in an interview that earning this advanced degree is all about how to see and work with the big picture of a business’s future. These strategy and problem-solving skills are what make MBA degree awardees stand out when they apply for jobs.

Con: You could become overqualified

This con applies to you if you’re a younger prospective MBA student, or you are newer to the workforce. While an MBA shows that you’ve achieved an additional level of education, it can make you overqualified for many positions that employers are looking to fill with someone of your experience level. Stahl points out that this is especially true in times of economic uncertainty, like the Great Recession. You might think that it would just make you the best candidate for a job, but hiring you could look like a risk, considering that you could leave quickly for better opportunities or be unsatisfied with entry-level work.

Whether or not you get an MBA is ultimately up to you. If you’re unsure of where to go next, consider talking to your company’s management or a trusted advisor.

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