Do I Really Need an MBA?

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Monday, April 12, 2021

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Do I Really Need an MBA?


One of the biggest struggles that many professionals face is whether they really need an MBA or not. Questions race through their minds, such as:  

  • “Can’t I just learn the necessary skills on my own through YouTube videos or other training sites?”  
  • “Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a master’s degree when I can pay a few hundred dollars for a quality certification training?”  
  • “Why commit to a master’s program when I can earn a certification in less time?”  

These are all valid questions and certainly questions that deserve thoughtful responses. Choosing to invest time, money, and energy into earning a master’s degree in business administration is a decision that should be well considered before moving forward. 


“Can’t I just learn the necessary skills on my own through YouTube videos or other training sites?”   


The short answer is yes. You can prioritize the skills that your employer is looking for and find videos that will help you understand those topics and skills so that you can more thoughtfully contribute to conversations and decisions that are being made within your department. However, while learning from experts through videos may help you learn a specific skill at a certain time, you will not receive the feedback that is necessary for continuous learning.  

Scott Young, the author of Ultralearning, says, “The ability to gain immediate feedback on one’s performance is an essential ingredient in reaching expert levels of performance. No feedback and the result is often stagnation – long periods of time when you can continue to use a skill but don’t get any better at it. Sometimes the lack of feedback can even result in declining abilities.”  

One of the greatest benefits to graduate school is the feedback you receive from professors about your progress or mastery of a skill. If feedback is an essential part of learning, then depending on pre-recorded videos could mean missing the opportunity for correction and depth.   

Through a master’s program, you’ll be given many opportunities to apply what you’re learning in a real way – either through your current job or through case studies within the program. Scott Young describes three different types of feedback: 

  • Outcome: Are you doing it wrong?
  • Informational: What are you doing wrong?
  • Corrective: How can we fix what you are doing wrong? 

All three of these types of feedback are present in a master’s program. Faculty members are there to help you process the material and practice the skills you’re learning. Their feedback on your assignments will be a mix of these types of feedback and can help you learn in a way that training videos cannot. 


“Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a master’s degree when I can pay a couple of hundred dollars for a quality certification training?”  


Sure, training and certifications are significantly cheaper than earning a master’s degree in business administration. However, they have limited credibility in the eyes of employers. According to a survey by, when asked about hiring plans for 2021, 89 percent of employers said they plan to hire MBA graduates. 

Training courses and even certifications do not hold the same weight as an MBA. An MBA is well-known and is recognized across careers and industries. According to a survey, “the top three reasons recruiters report about confidence in business school’s ability to prepare graduates to be successful in their organization were strategic thinking, communication skills, and versatility.” These skills cannot be easily attained through a certification, but they are highly sought-after characteristics that can help you land a job you love. 

Hiring managers have confidence in business school graduates because they know they are prepared to work in the real world after gaining hands-on training and practical experience in a master’s program.  

An MBA is also recognized worldwide. This expands the job opportunities that are available to you. According to, “It shows potential partners that you are highly competent and dedicated to your industry.”  

When employers see that you are genuinely interested in the industry that you work in, they take you more seriously. They see that you are willing to put in the effort and sacrifice of time and resources to be a more effective team member. 

“Why commit to a master’s program when I can earn a certification on my schedule?”  


With your current priorities at work, home, and in your personal life – it may feel like there’s no extra time left to fit in any extra responsibilities. Earning a certification to advance your career instead of an MBA may feel like a good option.  

According to a study done in 2019 by RAND, they estimated that Americans average more than 5 hours of free time each day. This shows us that we have more time than we often think we have, but our priorities may make it seem like we have less time to commit to something like a master’s program.  

When doing things on your own, such as a certification program, you often lack the accountability necessary to maintain what it takes to get to your goal. According to a study done by the University of Scranton, 92 percent of people that set New Year's goals never actually achieve them.  

While New Year’s Goals are often smaller goals than earning a new degree, the reasons they fail to reach them are often the same: your goals need to have a “why”, they need to be clearly defined, and you need to be held accountable for them.  

If you think you’re too busy to earn your master’s degree, consider taking fewer classes at a time so that your workload doesn’t overwhelm you. The accountability of due dates and set class times may be what you need to increase your skillset and get ahead in your career. 

“Learning is deeper and more durable when it is effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow.” - Peter Brown 

So, Do I Really Need an MBA? 


A master’s degree in business administration might not be for everyone, but for many, the credibility of having an MBA will give them a leg up in the job market. Online training and certification programs may seem like attractive alternatives to earning your master’s degree, but the feedback you receive and the accountability that you are held to during your graduate program will prove to be an invaluable resource as you move forward in the business world. In conclusion, the benefits of earning a master's degree in business administration over a training course or certification are:  

  • FeedbackFeedback is a crucial part of making learning stick. It helps ensure that you learn things correctly, not just quickly.  
  • Credibility– Hiring managers recognize the value of an MBA because of the skills that professionals develop in the program.  
  • AccountabilityEnrolling in a master’s program provides accountability for follow-through that you otherwise wouldn’t receive. An MBA program can help you stay on track during the busyness of life.  

While there are still many things to consider when deciding whether an MBA is right for you, understanding the benefits can help you move your career forward and make the most of your professional life.  


Blog HomePosted By: JBU Graduate School Writers - 4/12/21 9:15 PM

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