Should You Get Your MBA Degree?

TSP • @myTSPnet


Prior to the digital age, earning your MBA was often a necessity to advance your business career. Now, in the era of entrepreneurs and start-ups, fewer people are getting their MBAs, making the decision of whether or not to pursue a MBA harder than before. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of this decision, consider these key factors before making your decision.

The average top 10 US business school MBA degree costs $130,000 for a two-year program in tuition — getting your MBA is a significant financial investment that should be planned for. And, that $130,000 doesn’t include all the additional costs of getting your MBA. You can expect to pay about $40,000 for boarding and books and $20,000 in related costs.

Additionally, if you get your MBA full-time, you’ll miss out on valuable income. For example, if your current salary is $60,000, a full-time MBA program can lose you around $120,000 in missed salary and opportunity cost. Also, you'll have missed two years worth of work experience, which could allow you greater company visibility or even a promotion.

Depending on your career, getting an MBA may not be necessary or beneficial. Before getting an MBA, you should evaluate the expected benefits. While the average MBA graduate earns an average of $142,000, if you’re self-employed or in a commission-based position, you may not see the same return on investment. However, in some careers, such as banking, finance, or investment banking, getting an MBA is critical. You should also consider the value of this addition to your qualifications.

If you’re looking to move up in your career, or even engage investors on a solo venture, having an MBA next to your name can be a huge differentiator. Another major benefit of getting your MBA is the new network of business peers which you can leverage throughout your career.

Many business schools consider individuals 28 to 32 too old to reap the full benefits of their MBA programs. Often times, these schools will even overlook an older candidate’s application over a less-qualified but younger application. In addition, getting your MBA as an older individual likely will not provide the same return on investment later in your career as it would earlier in your career, but getting an MBA is a personal choice. If you're not already in a high-level or executive position mid to late-career, an MBA by itself will not make that happen. With that said, it’s important to consider your age when deciding whether or not to pursue your MBA.

If you’ve worked in a career in which you’re unhappy and are looking for a change, pursuing your MBA can be an excellent way to make that change. Regardless of your area of career interest, business school admissions offices will want to see that you've taken initiative outside of your current career to try new things and move towards a new direction — you should never apply to business school not knowing where you want it to take you. Experimenting in different areas before attending business school is a guaranteed way to make the most of your experience.

No two MBA programs are the same, so deciding what you’re looking for in a program is essential before applying for an MBA. MBA programs vary in terms of duration and location, so decide which length program works best for your schedule as well as how willing you are to relocate for your MBA. Another factor to consider with location is cost, as cost of living varies between different cities and countries. While perspectives are highly subjective, MBA programs also vary in prestige and recognition. An MBA program’s brand recognition and prestige can be a differentiator if that matters to you.

Culture and personality also vary between programs, so decide what kind of personality you seek from your program and peers. The best way to gauge a program’s personality is to visit the campus. Cost also varies between programs, as does return on investment. For example, a program with lower tuition may give you a lower return on investment. Finally, different programs vary in terms of career opportunities. While receiving an impressive post-grad salary is nice, pursuing a program that offers superior career opportunities might be more important.

After considering these key factors, you should have a better idea if pursuing an MBA is the right choice for your career path. The choice has the potential to change your career for the better.