Advanced Degrees in Business: Is an MBA Worth It?

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Visual bullet points of the definition of an MBA.

Professionals seek a postgraduate education, such as a master’s degree, with a variety of aims, including opening up career opportunities, sharpening skills and improving salary potential. According to a 2017 Urban Institute report, in 2015, U.S. professionals with master’s degrees earned 23% more than those with only bachelor’s degrees. Clearly, advanced degrees often go hand in hand with increased earnings.

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most coveted advanced degrees in the business world, as it has the potential to open new opportunities to those who earn it. Many professionals pursue MBAs to learn new skills and gain experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them, allowing them to jump-start or accelerate their careers. Yet, an MBA program is rigorous and not necessarily for everyone. So, is an MBA worth it?

Earning an MBA

There are a few requirements students must meet before they can pursue an MBA. These can range from good standardized test stores to relevant work experience.

Requirements

While every MBA program is different, most require the following core elements as part of the application process.

  • Bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college proves subject competency. Any degrees earned outside of the United States may need to go through an equivalency process.
  • Transcripts. Prospective MBA candidates must submit official transcripts from all attended universities and colleges. Some students may be able to transfer credits from a previous degree to the graduate program — usually decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Resume. A current resume of both scholastic and industry achievements illustrates MBA potential.
  • GMAT/GRE scores*. GMAT and GRE scores are often required to further demonstrate student knowledge.
  • Prerequisite courses*. Some MBA programs may require applicants to take accounting or business prerequisite courses to fill in any gaps in knowledge.

*While relevant work experience isn’t always a requirement for an MBA program, it can help waive the requirements of GMAT/GRE scores and prerequisite courses.

MBA Programs

MBA programs vary widely in duration. Those wondering if an MBA is worth it should first consider the time commitment and experience needed for the program. For example, there are part-time, full-time and executive MBA programs. Online MBA programs offer additional flexibility.

Part-time. A part-time program may be the perfect solution for professionals looking to move up within their current company. This path would allow professionals to retain their jobs while honing new skills. Additionally, companies may subsidize some of the costs of a part-time MBA program.

Full-time. Full-time programs are extremely time consuming and cannot be handled alongside a career. For this reason, full-time programs can allow students to redirect their career trajectories during the career pause. The two most common full-time MBA program types are a traditional two-year program and an accelerated one-year program.

Executive. Designed for highly experienced business professionals, executive MBA programs are for business people who wish to elevate their careers with a particular focus on leadership skills. These programs require extensive industry experience.

Benefits of an MBA

Earning an MBA may provide business professionals with plenty of advantages, from new skills to increased job security.

New Skills

Business school can provide students with new skills and knowledge that may have a lasting impact on their career growth and overall trajectory. The hard and soft skills professionals can learn from an MBA program help prepare them for careers not only in finance and consulting but also in an array of other dynamic fields, such as health care, government and tech. For example, an MBA may help a professional combine international trade trends with a government or tech sector career, thereby integrating knowledge from differing industries. The skills sharpened in an MBA program, such as intellectual creativity, critical thinking and cross-cultural awareness, can positively influence a professional’s career, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Concentrations

Most MBA programs offer concentrations, allowing students to specialize in a certain area of their intended industry. For example, students in Rider University’s online MBA program can choose from business analytics, finance and global business. These options allow students to learn more about their intended career paths without having to fully commit yet. As such, MBA concentrations are excellent for business professionals interested in gaining valuable skills that will be assets to them in a specific career path.

Increased Job Security

The MBA degree is highly sought after in the business world — a factor many professionals consider when asking, “Is an MBA worth it?” It may help increase a professional’s chances of employment in such a competitive industry, as companies often hire MBA graduates for their ability to provide a global-minded perspective and navigate complex matters of business. As U.S. News & World Report notes, select corporate clients will not consider a candidate without an MBA.

Expanded Network

Business is all about building a network. There’s no better place to expand a professional business network than an MBA program. Not only do students interact with highly regarded instructors and business professionals, but they are also often able to find internship and mentoring opportunities through the reach of an MBA program.

Furthermore, an alumni network can help unlock doors. For example, during an MBA program, a student will interact with professors, mentors, fellow students, working alumni, campus leaders and other professionals. This chance to form a strong social network before returning to the business industry is important, as LinkedIn reports that almost 80% of professionals consider networking a key indicator for career success.

Essential MBA Skills

An MBA curriculum can help students cultivate and refine both business and soft skills that are essential to success, such as analytical skills and written and verbal communication. For example, an MBA program can help professionals develop their abilities in the following five areas:

Interpersonal skills: The ability to effectively and efficiently collaborate.
Strategic thinking: The capacity to create an action plan for company success.
Entrepreneurial skills: The ability to analyze market trends and set goals accordingly.
Communication skills: The capacity to clearly convey messages to colleagues.
Leadership skills: The ability to inspire action and foster a positive working culture.

This combination of skills helps prepare professionals to succeed in whichever business industry they so choose. MBA graduates are often equipped to deal with complex situations in which a variety of background knowledge and experience can be the deciding factor between success and failure. As such, these MBA skills serve to create a more well-rounded business professional.

Is an MBA Worth It?

Is an MBA worth it? The answer lies in the goals and anticipated career trajectory of a business professional. For professionals wishing to expand their opportunities, build their networks, hone their skills and sharpen their knowledge of the business world, Rider University’s online MBA program may be the perfect solution. And the online delivery method provides students with more flexibility compared with many other programs. For more information, contact Rider University today.

Recommended Reading

Six Types of Business Management Careers: A Comprehensive Guide

Building a Business Career: How Valuable Is an MBA?

Online Master of Business Administration Information Session

Sources:

LinkedIn, “Eighty Percent of Professionals Consider Networking Important to Career Success”

The Princeton Review, “Why Get an MBA? Practical, Applicable Skills”

Rider University, Online Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Concentration

Rider University, Online Master of Business Administration: Finance Concentration

Rider University, Online Master of Business Administration: Global Business Concentration

Rider University, Online Master’s in Business Administration

Urban Institute, “Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds?”

U.S. News & World Report, “4 Key Career Benefits From MBA Programs”

U.S. News & World Report, “What an MBA Degree Is and What You Need To Know”