Is an MBA Right For Me?

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Monday, March 29, 2021

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Is an MBA Right For Me?

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a well-respected degree that is often known for increasing your potential within the corporate world. An MBA is about more than having the credentials to do a certain job in a particular industry; it is about learning to process through problems and develop solutions that help you create value for your organization. 

Starting your MBA is a big decision and you’re probably wondering – Are MBA programs worth it? There are lots of things to consider before moving forward toward earning your master’s degree in business administration. While there are many benefits to earning your MBA, there are also some challenges to consider. Through this article, we will go through these benefits and challenges so you can discover if an MBA is right for you. 

Benefits:

An MBA provides a much deeper look into the business world, in both qualitative and quantitative ways.  

First, consider the reasons you are considering an MBA. Are you looking for a career change? Is your heart set on that promotion that you keep getting passed up for? Are you interested in creating more efficient processes for your company? An MBA will provide you with the skills you need to take your strategic abilities and skills to the next level. Some benefits of earning your MBA may include a salary increase, promotion eligibility, and a specialization of skills.

Salary increases 

A salary bump is a contributing factor to why many people decide to get their MBA. Because an MBA represents extra specialization and skills, employers are more willing to pay for your expertise (either through a promotion or through a higher starting pay). The value you bring to their company because of your education is worth rewarding, in most cases. Salary increases are often, but not always, a result of receiving a promotion. There are specific jobs that managers want whoever they hire to hold an MBA. These jobs often are higher paying and have more responsibility.

DID YOU KNOW: The average starting salary for MBA grads (class of 2020) is $20,000 more per year than those with an undergraduate degree, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

Job Security 

According to MBAGrad.com, the unemployment rate for individuals with graduate degrees is 3 percent, compared to 5 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree. For business specifically, the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is 4.8 percent versus graduate degree at 4.2 percent unemployment rate. Employers do not want to lose their top-performing employees. With a graduate degree, you will become even more valuable to your organization. 

Specialization

Earning a specialized education is a great way to set yourself apart. Many MBA programs offer different specializations that you can choose from – including data analytics, accounting, supply chain management, information technology, and so much more. A specialized MBA program will provide you with extensive skills in a certain area, so you must be confident in what industry and profession you want to pursue before choosing a specialized degree. According to a study published by Education Dynamics in 2020, 20% of surveyed graduate students said the primary reason they were earning their master’s degree was to start a new career that was more aligned with their interests. In other words, they wanted to specialize in the fields they were most passionate about.  

You may be thinking: Can't I just learn about a specialization from Youtube or through online training programs? Yes, you can! However, networking and receiving feedback from experts in the field are a huge part of graduate school. By learning through training videos, you may miss out on the opportunities that are unique to attending graduate school and crucial to your development

Costs & Challenges:

While there are many benefits to earning your MBA, there are three main challenges that come to mind when considering an MBA: time, money, and job prospects. These things may be a barrier to your pursuit of an MBA, but the sacrifice will result in greater benefits if you can overcome them. Even amid a busy life, you have options when choosing which format, how to pay for your education, and how to make the most of your time in graduate school. 

 

Time / Format

Most MBA programs will take about two years to completeDuring this time, you’ll have to spend time completing coursework- whether in the early mornings, late at night, or during lunch breaks. There are different ways to go about earning your MBA, some are more flexible than others.

Full-Time MBA 

Traditionally, MBA programs are full-time – meaning there is a scheduled time for class each week for a lecture and there are assignments outside of that. This format is great for full-time students, students with a fellowship or assistantship position on-campus, or students looking for extensive in-person networking opportunities. This format is very structured compared to the others because it requires you to be physically on campus for classes, but offers specific benefits you won’t get another way.  

Online MBA 

Online MBA programs are becoming increasingly popular. Sometimes, lectures are held at a specific time and you will need to log online to participate in the lecture or discussion. Other timesclasses will be at your own pace. As long as you complete assignments by the specified due date, you can view lectures, participate in discussion posts, and complete research at a time that is convenient for your schedule. The online MBA is a great option for those who work full-time or have busy personal lives (e.g. a family, a demanding hobby, lots of social events). The online format is much more flexible than the full-time MBA and offers its own set of benefits. 

Evening MBA 

With an Evening MBA, classes will be held after typical business hours, so you can attend in-person with other like-minded professionals. While this option may require more physical time, it will allow you to do in-person classroom learning at a more convenient time than the Full-time MBA. This is a great option for working professionals who prefer face-to-face instruction. An evening MBA combines the in-person benefits of the full-time MBA with the flexibility of the online MBA. 

Whichever option you choose, there will likely be some sacrifices you will need to make during these two years. Balancing life, work, and graduate school may seem like a daunting task, but making small changes can make a big difference in your success. Remember – you won’t be in graduate school forever. It’s temporary.

DID YOU KNOW: You don't have to go part-time if you choose online? You can still be a full-time student!   

 

Money 

An MBA is a financial investment, but it is just that- an investment. The return on your investment in graduate school can produce more than just monetary rewards. You will see an increase in opportunities through networking, better critical thinking and research skills, as well as making yourself more marketable in the industry you want to work in. Paying for graduate school doesn’t have to be a barrier to where you want to go - there are many ways to pay for graduate school 

Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Some employers offer a tuition reimbursement program for employees who choose to go to graduate school. The IRS maximum for employer tuition reimbursement is $5,250 per year, so depending on the price of the program, this may cover some or all of your tuition. If you are employed, it is worth asking your employer if they provide this benefit. This program is popular among growing organizations because it ultimately benefits the student and the employer with the knowledge gained through the MBA program.

 

Assistantship/Fellowship Opportunities 

Some schools offer different assistantship or fellowship opportunities for graduate students. These positions typically cover some or all of your graduate tuition costs as well as a stipend for your work. These positions may include duties such as helping professors with research, delivering lectures, or working in different departments of the university.     

Scholarships 

Scholarships are a great way to get your tuition covered. Most universities have specific scholarships for their school and offer specific scholarships for MBA students, but there are also outside scholarships available. Scholarships are often based on merit, academics, and experience. Do your research and find the ones you’re eligible for - they could save you thousands of dollars on tuition!

Loans

Loans are another way to help you pay for your graduate education. Many students qualify for subsidized loans that won’t need to be paid back until after you graduate with your MBAThey also have a grace period during which the interest is not accruing, which gives you and some time to figure out a loan repayment plan.  

Doesn’t guarantee the job 

Another challenge that you may face when considering whether to get your MBA is that very rarely does an MBA on its own guarantee you a particular job. However, many upper-level management positions require an MBA before applicants will even be considered for the position. Keep in mind that the amount of passion and effort you put into earning your degree, the more rewards you will see from it. Making it a priority to network with classmates and professors will make a difference in those who see results in getting the job they hope for. 

While it can’t guarantee a specific job, an MBA is a sign to employers that you are eager to learn,  capable of hard work, can prioritize, and have proven critical thinking skills. While an MBA won’t automatically get you your dream job, it can help you gain the necessary skills you need to become a top candidate. 

MBA programs often have great opportunities to meet new people that can help you get to where you want to be. Meeting up with other students to learn about their industry or company is a great way to build your professional network. Universities also usually have career fairs that can connect you with employers that trust your program. 

It’s no secret that an MBA will require sacrifice – of your money, time, and energy. However, the costs and challenges that come with earning your degree can be overcome and the benefits of having your MBA can reap for years to come.  

 

Blog HomePosted By: JBU Graduate School Writers - 3/29/21 4:00 PM