Deciding to earn a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is not a light decision. Truly a life changing event, you must weigh the cost of the program itself, challenges with going to graduate school and the opportunity cost of leaving (or not entering) the workforce. The value of a MBA degree is often as difficult as deciding to go to grad school in the first place. The degree itself is an effective tool for those that want to make a career change and for others the MBA is essential for financial sector positions and career advancement in business. Whether considering an executive MBA, online MBA or traditional business graduate degree program, the decision to go (or return) to graduate school should be examined based on a program’s cost, professional development and selectivity.
Graduate MBA Costs
MBA programs can range in cost from the mid $20,000 to over $130,000 for top MBA programs like those at MIT, University of Pennsylvania and Stanford. While costs are important, future earning potential should be analyzed. Jobs with an MBA degree include professions in marketing, finance, human resources, business intelligence and corporate management. The monetary input required to obtain an advanced degree should be considered when asking yourself is an MBA worth it. Graduate School, in any degree program, should be thought of as an investment in higher average lifetime earnings. In fact, those majoring in business as an undergraduate and deciding to go on to an MBA make more money in their lifetime than those that choose not to earn an MBA according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Financial Aid is available to help with the cost of grad school but limited, even more so than other programs, for MBA degrees. Federal loan programs can help to supplement but research funding such as assistantships are typically not available to students in MBA programs.
The reason for earning a MBA is to build the skills needed to advance in your chosen profession. MBA programs provide desirable real-world skills to meet the challenges in the marketplace across a wide range of subject areas. In addition, professional networks are built from connections developed through these graduate degree programs. Alumni and businesses who want highly skilled employees to grow and advance their businesses look to those finishing graduate school with an MBA. The prestige and vast professional networks like those at top MBA programs such as Harvard and Columbia get you noticed at a world-wide level and open opportunities that many other schools cannot. However, smaller state and regional schools offer different opportunities and may make more sense if you are looking to move into a specialized field or stay within a particular area. Even the best value MBA programs and online MBA programs increase your professional value.
Selectivity at MBA Programs
Depending on your reasons for considering a MBA, your selection strategy may differ. Changing careers may lend itself to looking at smaller, less expensive and selective schools that offer a strong program in your new field. These programs help you to get your feet in the door at your next career while building the exact set of skills local and regional businesses are looking for. These schools also offer part-time and online MBA programs as part of their graduate schools, which give you the opportunity it advance (or change) your career while still working or managing a family. On the other hand, if big corporate life or the financial sector world is your desire then top MBA programs, which are highly selective and demanding, are your best option for grad school.
MBA degrees can provide the skills needed to advance your career in a variety of fields. Analyze the factors such as costs and the differences among universities as you make your decision to go to grad school for an MBA.