Signing up for an MBA is a big step that could pave the way to a brighter future. But how can you know if it’s the right path for you? Here we outline all the key things you need to consider when asking yourself, “should I get an MBA?”
Recent research shows that 46% of new MBA grads have had job offers with salaries of $125,000 or more*. A paycheck like that will certainly help pay the bills! But life is about more than money. And signing up for a degree as challenging as an MBA is not a decision to take lightly. So how can you know if it’s the right path for you? We’ve delved into the pros and cons to help you decide whether or not you should get an MBA.
What is an MBA?
An MBA is a Master’s of Business Administration. It’s an internationally-recognized degree designed to develop the skills required for careers in business and management.
But the value of the MBA is not limited only to the business world. An MBA can also be useful for those pursuing a managerial career in the public sector, government, private industry, and high-tech. Every college that offers the MBA will have a slightly different course structure, but MBA programs typically include a core curriculum of subjects, such as accounting, economics, marketing, and operations, as well as elective courses that allow participants to follow their own personal or professional interests. MBA courses cover a lot of ground, but you’ll meet a wide range of people on your course, and most likely be taught by visiting lecturers who are at the top of their professions, making the course an exciting challenge too.
Things to consider before getting an MBA
We have previously talked about some of the reasons to go or not to go to college in this post. But when it comes to the MBA, there’s a more specific set of things you need to think about. These things include:
1. The time it takes
While it can feel amazing to fully immerse yourself in a program of study, the MBA will require several hours of study each week – which means less time for socialising, working your current job, or hanging out with friends and family. Every college will require a different level of commitment, but you need to seriously consider if you have the time and energy required to get an MBA.
Studying online could make it easier for you: at UoPeople, for example, it can take just 6 terms or 15 months of study to complete the MBA and you won’t have to waste time commuting to class in the city center; just pop open your laptop and get to work when it suits you.
Help yourself to work out if you have time in your schedule to become a student by writing a list of all your current commitments. Allocate a time budget to each of them. E.g.: Putting my kids to bed: 1 hour per day = 7 hours per week. Then add up all the hours you simply can’t negotiate on to get your weekly total. Subtract this from the total amount of waking hours in your week and you’ll soon see if there’s enough time left over for you to add in an MBA. Maybe you can get out of some current commitments, but be realistic; there’s nothing worse than taking on more than you can manage, especially at the start. And you’ll want your family and friends to be supportive of your decision because this will make things much easier when deadlines roll around and you need their help so you can get on with your study.
2. What you will get from the MBA program
By the end of your MBA, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to succeed in the business world. You will have had a cutting-edge and stimulating educational experience and be well-placed to thrive in business, industry, government, and non-profit management roles. The business world will be your oyster, because you’ll understand it much, much better.
3. Why you’re getting the MBA
You need to figure out why you are considering getting an MBA and what you will get out of the program for yourself. What do you hope to achieve by the end of the course? Do you want to change careers? Get promoted? Having a clear goal in mind will make it easier to make the correct decision.
Pros to getting an MBA:
1. Gain a broad range of valuable skills
With that new knowledge comes an impressive tool-kit of new, transferable skills that can be applied to any area of your life. You’ll learn how to think systematically, manage decision-making processes better, apply techniques for delegation and empowerment, and become a top-class negotiator. You’ll learn how to communicate more effectively with peers and colleagues and gain better interpersonal skills. There’s an awful lot to gain from going through this process and much of it will make you a more professional, approachable person, too.
2. Become a highly qualified master in business knowledge
Once you’ve got an in-depth understanding of business topics, you’ll be able to offer your future employer specialist knowledge that will be of great value to them. Being an expert can open doors and help you fast-track your way to promotion. You’ll also be able to take your masterful knowledge with you wherever you go to work — making you a more attractive candidate at the application stage of recruitment.
Most colleges split their MBA courses into ‘Core’ and ‘Elective Courses’. At UoPeople, Core Courses on the MBA include: Managerial Accounting, Marketing Management, Business Law, Ethics and Social Responsibility, and Strategic Decision Making and Management, among others.
Elective Courses include: Managing in the Global Economy and Leading in Today’s Dynamic Contexts, among others. You can mix and match courses, so long as you accumulate the right amount of credits by the end of the course, meaning you’ll graduate with deep knowledge of the business world and specialist areas of expertise.
3. Ability to get hired
Many top-level positions in the finance industry require an MBA and for students already employed, many find that their MBA opens new doors for advancement at their companies. Graduates of MBA programs go on to work in sales, management, human resources, finance & investment banking, marketing management, and accounting. Their skills make them a valuable asset to any business and organisation, including non-profit organisations as well.
4. Boost your earning potential
There’s no doubt that an MBA could give you a major salary hike. According to The Financial Times, “The MBA Uplift” has seen salaries pick up to reach an average of $142,000 in 2017, up 12% from 2014. The article states that “Early data analysis from the 2018 rankings indicate that salaries are still increasing. Average alumni salaries have increased year on year for about three-quarters of schools. If the latest trend continues, the overall average salary of an MBA graduate should be near to $150,000 in 2018.”
5. Networking opportunities
Most MBA courses include an internship, where students get the chance to gain practical business experience by working with top companies. Even if your program doesn’t include this, the visiting lecturers and business professionals who will teach your courses could open some seriously useful doors for you.
Our tip? Create a spreadsheet on your computer and use it to log the details of who you met, where, and what you spoke about. Interactions on Twitter, LinkedIn and course forums are extremely valid – log these interactions too. Add contact details into a separate column. This sheet will become your bible in years to come; a tailor-made database of people in the business world who you know.
There’s also the immeasurable benefit of being part of a global community of business professionals. At UoPeople, students study with people from all over the world and everyone brings different contacts and networks to the online classroom. Plus, many ground-breaking new business ideas were born while people were under pressure in college. Facebook, anyone?
Reasons not to do an MBA
Despite all the brilliant things an MBA can bring, it’s not right for everyone. Don’t do an MBA just because you don’t know what else to do. Or because everyone else is doing it or because you’re scared to go out into workplace after a Bachelor’s degree.
It’s also not a great idea to do an MBA just because of the potential salary boost. Of course it can happen, but there are no guarantees. Equally, MBAs aren’t always the best way to start your entrepreneurial journey. You could find the same connections outside of the classroom by really drilling down into the business scene via meetups and online hangouts, or you could fast-track up the career ladder via a salaried job. Be bold and let your employer know you have ambition. They may be looking for someone to train-up and promote. You need to explore all sides of the coin before registering.
Studying for an MBA requires motivation, determination, and passion in equal measure. Of course, if after doing a balanced analysis of the situation you’re still excited about the idea, the MBA could be the perfect choice for you. We wish you the best of luck, whatever you decide!