NEWS | Why you should spend more time thinking about an MBA

Published On: Thursday, 14th Sep 2023


Many professionals reach a crossroads in their career – they may feel they have hit a progression barrier or feel uncertain about their next step. This can occur at any time and is often to do with organisational structures rather than an individual’s lack of skills. It is often at this stage that people start thinking about acquiring new skills, including studying for an MBA, to advance their careers.

Benefits of an MBA

There are many advantages to studying for an MBA, but they need to be weighed up carefully against the time and financial commitment required. The long-term benefits of earning the degree will outweigh the demands on your time and finances, so the MBA can be viewed as an investment in your future.

Students are taught business fundamentals such as leadership, communication, analytical skills, and critical thinking, alongside electives that build on specific areas of interest, for example, entrepreneurship. The list of benefits is wide including greater networking opportunities, improved communication skills, better time management and advanced problem-solving techniques, to name a few.

An MBA will enhance your marketability and increase the quality and quantity of career opportunities. This in turn will increase your earning potential as you will be able to compete for a wider diversity of jobs, more senior roles and higher salaries.

Besides the salary and career benefits, you will also be joining a worldwide MBA ‘club’ which is universally recognised and respected globally. This will give you the opportunity to work in different parts of the world, having already proved your business acumen.

MBA Exploration

The most important first step is to research every option and determine the optimum time for you to attend business school. Timing is a personal choice, however, many MBA students have around five years’ experience in the workforce before embarking on an MBA programme. Students with work experience bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to classroom discussions and projects, which enhances everyone’s learning experience. More important than timing, and this is something to keep at the forefront of your mind, is your motivation for wishing to study for an MBA.

If you are looking for personal development and to acquire new skills to advance in your career, choosing an MBA will be a valuable pursuit. If you are bored or frustrated at work currently and view an MBA as a quick fix to earn more money and influence, then it is wise to take a step back and consider if the commitment is right for you at this moment.

Your current work situation is also relevant to MBA study considerations. It is possible that your current employer could help you through your degree (eg financial sponsorship), with a higher position in mind upon completion. If this is the case, you will need to be clear at the outset what the offer will be and what the obligations are on your side.

It could be that you wish to pivot your career completely and see an MBA as the springboard to help you achieve this, or you might be looking for the broad knowledge that comes from intensive business skill development to help you create a business. If you’re aiming to become an entrepreneur, an MBA programme will give you the core knowledge and practices you need to get started. Your MBA will analyse and critique real business situations, you can take specific courses aimed at business development.

Thinking About Commitments

When writing your ‘for’ and ‘against’ list while considering an MBA, the financial cost and level of commitment is likely to be high on your ‘against’ column.

Although the cost of gaining an MBA varies and there are numerous ways to help finance your time at business school, there are still considerable costs. A degree is viewed as a valuable investment for the future, so many students turn to savings, scholarships, employer sponsorship, and loans to pay course fees and expenses.

It is also important to consider your time investment. Most full-time MBA programmes will take around two years to complete although accelerated options are also available. Living costs during your time at business school are a major factor so preparing a detailed budget for your total study period as well as your tuition fee will help with decision making.

The Return on Investment

One of the biggest questions students ask when working out if an MBA is right for them is, ‘when will it be payback time?’ That is, how long might it take to earn more money than they have invested in the MBA. It is not an easy question to answer so you should look carefully at your current earnings and situation, potential career opportunities and the state of the economy. It is a good exercise to calculate your return on investment. This is a comparison of your long-term potential gains to your short-term investment costs. Keep in mind that this calculation only deals with the financial benefits of an MBA, as you cannot put a price on the educational and relational benefits of studying for the degree.

According to a 2022 survey of corporate recruiters, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) projected that MBA graduates working at US companies would earn a median annual salary of $115,000 in 2022. Non-MBA degree holders were projected to earn much less: $75,000 [1]. These figures suggest that the MBA is, and will continue to be, one of the strongest qualifications that companies seek when hiring.

Also, hiring projections remain strong. Ninety-four percent of recruiters surveyed expected to hire MBA graduates in 2022, and 97 percent of US-based recruiters anticipate their hiring demand for business school graduates to increase or remain stable over the next five years [1]. Another GMAC report found that 86 percent of 2022 MBA graduates were employed upon graduation, a 6 percent increase from the 2021 class [2].

While thinking about an MBA it is best to concentrate on all the positive aspects of why you want one and how it will help you throughout your career and beyond. You should feel that you are up to the challenge of major self-development at this point in your life. The experience will be life-changing so it is not something to commit to unless you feel you can make the most of it. It is not easy to look into the future, but it is a good idea to talk to people who have been through the journey for their experiences, particularly if they are recent graduates with experience in the current climate.

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