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Is an MBA Degree Really Worth It?

Is an MBA Degree Really Worth It?

Getting an MBA (Master of Business Administration) takes a lot of time, money, and effort. So it’s important to really think about whether or not it is worth your while to pursue one. Here are some things to consider.

  • The right reasons: To hone skills like influence, empathy, and building business strategies; to help you make a career pivot; to accelerate the pace of your professional development; to expand and diversify your professional network.
  • The wrong reasons: You’re looking for a magic pill that will give you more money or power; you’re bored in your current role; you don’t know what you want.

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a graduate degree focused on building leadership skills and learning business principles. But for the majority of students, MBAs offer much more than that: a stronger professional network, access to job opportunities, and a bigger paycheck.

Some of these benefits manifest sooner than others. Those accepted into highly ranked programs gain almost immediate access to seasoned staff who can help them make connections, and they can expect a significant pay bump upon graduation. The average salary for graduates from top schools is typically in the six figures.

But sometimes, the full impact of an MBA can take a few years to come to fruition, and if you’re in it for the wrong reasons, you might not achieve the outcomes you want.

Given the amount of time, money, and effort that an MBA really requires, it’s important to think about where you fit into this equation before deciding whether or not it is worth your while to pursue one.

For the past decade, a part of my job as the managing director of the Career Management Center at the Kellogg School of Management has been to advise students on their careers and help potential candidates weigh this decision. Based on my experience, here some things to consider as you debate it yourself.

The Right Reasons

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To future-ready your career. In my daily conversations with MBA alumni and executives, I hear about the importance of future-ready skills. But what does this really mean? It means that more and more companies are looking to come out of the pandemic stronger than they were before by pivoting and adjusting their business models. Hiring the right talent with the right skills is an important piece of that. You should have the same mindset. Ask yourself: How can I expand my skillset and capabilities to be the best candidate for these roles?

The skills many organizations are looking for range from empathy and team management to understanding how to look ahead, set strategic goals, and influence stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. Students looking to develop skills around influence often have unique opportunities to do so during the MBA experience.

Is an MBA Degree Really Worth It?

Many enter case study competitions that emulate the challenges businesses face today and require the students to pitch solutions to a panel of judges. Importantly, everyone in these programs also learns how to improve their communication and collaboration skills by participating in group projects with people from all walks of life. Soft skills like this are key to MBA classes in addition to rigorous analytical work.

An MBA could be key in acquiring the experience you need to have a competitive advantage in the job market – and this is not a bad reason to pursue one.

To explore new industries or functions. If you’re looking to make a career pivot, an MBA may help you face that challenge with open eyes. Business school is a great time to gain exposure to peers, faculty, and a network of alumni from many professional backgrounds – as well as class projects and case studies that dive deeply into different industries and sectors.

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