If you were told you could make a median base salary of $120,000, you’d be crazy not to jump at the chance…right? Yet society and the entrepreneurial community are widely questioning the value of graduate degrees in today’s workplace. We hear stories of the Steve Jobs’ and Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world, who became billionaires without so much as an undergrad degree. As the economy has suffered the last few years, savvy college graduates are clinging to examples such as these as a justification that perhaps education is not worth its price tag.
Before jumping to this conclusion, though, you owe it to yourself and your future to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of such an investment. To get an MBA or not to get an MBA? That is the question to be considered.
Finances are at the heart of any ROI discussion. It’s important to note any MBA program, online or not, is going to cost significant dollars. While some rare individuals may have the resources to pay their tuition and other expenses as they come due, most graduate students will need to take out loans to do so. The bad news is the high sum this will set you back, but the good news is that interest rates of student loans are generally low, so paying them back can actually be manageable.
With this in mind, you’ll then want to think about the financial benefits of quick employment post-graduation. Nearly 80 percent of full-time MBA students in 2012 found employment within a short three months after graduation, US News reports. Landing a job this quickly is a rare and precious gift, especially in today’s economic climate. Additionally, the quality of jobs secured is higher than that of individuals without MBAs, as is clear from the median salary referenced above. Employers generally will pay more for an MBA graduate who fills a certain position than a person with only an undergraduate degree who could fill the same role.
Price of career progression
Do you need your MBA to start your own business? The answer, quite frankly, is no. You don’t even need an undergraduate degree to get your venture off the ground. Many successful business owners have been able to launch companies and do well for themselves without much (or any) educational backing. But is this the best path? Again, the answer is no. While many undergraduate degree-holding entrepreneurs, or even those with merely a high school diploma, can create businesses or find worthwhile jobs, they’re not doing themselves any favors in getting a leg up among peers.
What is the worth of nearly guaranteed, automatic career progression? Even if you start your own business, you never know when you may need (or want) to take a leap back into the workforce and join a company. Maybe your venture will be acquired someday. Might you want the validation of an MBA attached to your name to prove your value in staying at the helm after the acquisition? And if you simply want to move up the ranks in a corporation, your MBA is like gold in the world of promotions and raises. Faster and higher quality career progression is a greater certainty when you’ve been endorsed by an elite graduate degree. Don’t forget to consider the far-reaching implications that accompany this.
It’s all in the details
Isn’t there more to life than money and shiny titles? There is. And beyond the financial realm, there are advantages that come with attaining your MBA, as well. You will have a solid understanding of the global marketplace, and a strong level of adaptability. You will have the tools and knowledge needed to start your own business, or lead an existing one. You will enjoy increased job security and the extensive benefits that come with a vast network of influential business leaders built during your time in your MBA program. And even outside of all of these perks, what about your quality of life?
MBA50.com conducted a survey of current MBA students from more than 10 different countries around the world, asking what their happiness level was before starting their MBA program, what it is in the midst of the program, and what they project it to be once the program has been completed. Although happiness is subjective, the results of the survey are still very telling. With the number one representing extreme unhappiness, and 10 signifying extreme happiness, participants rated their pre-MBA happiness an average of 5.98, their happiness during their MBA programs an average of 7.71, and their expected happiness post-MBA an average of 8.53. Perhaps the bigger takeaway is what was cited as the source of that contentment. About 42 percent of participants identified self-development as the catalyst for their happiness, and 19 percent attributed it to their expected career progression. As you can see, there are endless positive effects of attaining your MBA, aside from the mere monetary aspects.
What’s the consensus?
When it comes to money matters, your MBA will cost you. But financing options make it possible to pay back loans, and the promise of a steady and sizable salary for the decades of your career spell out major ROI for that cost. The intangible values of attaining your MBA range from career progression and job security, to escalated self-development and happiness. All factors being taken into account, the answer is yes –- your MBA is worth the investment.
If that’s the decision you have come to, tap into all available resources to determine what the right program is for you. US News releases an annual report of the best graduate schools, and you can also research the important details that matter to you on a site such as Graduate Guide to be sure you’re making the most informed decision possible. There are thousands of resources online such that can help steer you in the right direction.
What’s your opinion: is an MBA degree worth it? Share in the comments.
Ava Beck is an avid writer who has contributed to numerous diverse publications and spent time as an associate fashion editor of a beauty and style magazine. She is currently immersed in the fast-paced fields of marketing and PR, and her pulse on writing remains strong.