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The value of an MBA

Cutter Slagle
|Jun 7|magazine15 min read

If you’ve even slightly considered pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, then you’ve undoubtedly contemplated the time, money and energy that will go into completing such an accomplishment. Though having a degree of this nature may seem impressive, you have to keep one thing in mind: you will be joining millions of other people from all over the world who are not only striving for the same goal, but who you could essentially be competing with when it comes time to joining the work force and securing a job in the business industry. Therefore, you may find it important to ask yourself the following question: How valuable is an MBA?

Looks Good on Paper . . . But Consider the Risks 

According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Standford Graduate School of Business, “It’s become unclear whether it makes sense to overburden yourself with expenses and loans in order to secure the possibility of a greater salary in the future.”

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Clearly, if you make the decision to continue your education past college and work towards an MBA, you’re taking a risk; there is no guarantee that you’ll either get a job or get a job earning more money because of your newly earned degree.

Pfeffer has even made a correlation between the degree and its scarcity, believing that MBAs aren’t scarce or uncommon—millions of people have one or are working towards earning one. If anything, he considers judging the status or prestige of a specific school and whether or not it ranks in the top 15 worldwide versus the MBA title itself. This begs the question of what’s more important: the institute you attend or your level of education?

In fact, Mariana Zanetti discusses this same issue, among plenty of others, in her 2013 book, The MBA Bubble: Why Getting an MBA Degree is A Bad Idea. She explores the idea (with the aid of her own personal experience) of how she had gotten work not because she’d earned an MBA from IE Business School, but due to previous achievements, personal qualities and her past employment. To prove Zanetti’s point even further, once she had received her MBA and secured work post-schooling, she didn’t even find herself brining home more money.

Do Your Homework

In reality, going to school to earn an MBA could leave a person in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt, which could ultimately take a great amount of years to pay off. When hiring, there isn’t a shortage of MBAs—companies have plenty of prospects to choose from and the list continues to grow. Sadly, there seems to be a lack of respect or recognition for earning an MBA. That, along with the fact that even though someone may obtain an MBA, the amount of jobs in the world requiring an MBA stays the same, could result in major disappointment for multiple reasons. 

Having an MBA on your resume may offer some credibility, but it will be important to consider how much before deciding to go through the long, difficult and expensive process. Therefore, be smart and do your homework—doing so could save you from a headache or two, as well as help to keep your wallet less empty.

Those who are contemplating going to business school to obtain an MBA should consider taking advantage of all tools at their exposure—for example, the annual employment report of graduates. This information can assist students in learning about the certain level of success of a specific school.

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The director of career management at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School, Sharon Irwin-Foulon, has stated, “You should look at every employment report of the school you are looking at.”

A handful of schools have recently unveiled annual employment reports that show last year’s graduates according to the following categories: country of origin, gender, employment by sector and pay. This implement can educate students on where recent graduates have gotten hired and the average salary that is earned after graduating with an MBA. And if this specific information isn’t necessarily available or presented to students, then they should practice due diligence before applying and enrolling into an institute and ask how that specific school can or will assist with their careers once the MBA is completed.

After all, before you put yourself at risk for obtaining a large amount of debt, don’t you want to make sure that the payoff will eventually be worth it?

Now, that being said, there are plenty of benefits an individual can be exposed to when he or she chooses to spend the time and money to secure an MBA. For example, career advancement could be more plausible with a master of business administration degree, as well as the ability to earn a higher salary. As stated, this could depend on where you go to school and the company that hires you.

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Furthermore, with an MBA, you may find it easier to start your own business and develop certain skills that will aid you in becoming successful in the business world. By participating in an MBA program, you could potentially open doors to various resources that only those with an MBA are privy to, such as certain networking opportunities, job security and the prestige of having a master of business administration degree.

Bottom line: whether or not an MBA is beneficial will depend on the specific individual and what he or she wishes to accomplish throughout his or her career. 

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