degree-of-interest: Master of Business Administration What to Know About Getting Your MBA and Leveling Up Your Career Marketing and Communications | December 7, 2023 A Master of Business Administration (MBA) remains one of the most popular graduate degrees for anyone who wants to go into business, if not the most popular degree. With it, you are poised to dramatically level up your pay potential and managerial capacity, as well as the number of interesting opportunities that come your way. Many people, however, are hesitant to consider the benefits of an MBA degree. “Is an MBA worth it?” they wonder, worrying about the cost of graduate school and whether this type of executive education will pay itself back. The short answer is: Yes, it probably will, especially if you consider the full range of possibilities on the MBA specializations list, such as an MBA in Finance, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, or International Business. And the list goes on. Today, let’s look at the value of an MBA in today’s job market, financial considerations, skills development, potential specializations, the long-term benefits of an MBA, and some common misconceptions that concern prospective students. The Value of an MBA in Today’s Job Market For decades, MBA degrees have shown prospective employers that you’re qualified for high-level jobs or that you’re suited for that big promotion. Recent trends have only made the MBA more appealing. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s recent reports, “Total hiring for MBA grads has increased over the last five years with a small dip in 2020.” Plus, “Over the past two years, more than three-quarters of employers across industries have hired MBAs.” That’s a lot of potential breadth to the degree. Meaning, with an MBA you could conceivably land a job in almost any field, from medical technology to clean energy development to retail. It is this very flexibility that makes it such an appealing option. According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the best jobs for MBAs include financial manager, IT manager, management consultant, medical and health services manager, operations research analyst, and personal financial advisor. While salaries range for these roles, they’re all quite high. For example, a financial manager can expect to make about $140,000 per year, while an operations research analyst will make about $86,000 annually. This makes it easier to consider taking on the financial burden of going back to school. Financial Considerations At the top of students’ list of concerns is usually the MBA program’s cost. According to Menlo Coaching, the cost of two years of tuition at a top business school is about $150,000, while living expenses during that time are around $50,000. Of course, if you need a more affordable route to MBA skills development, you can earn your degree online, which is often much more affordable. However, this is a dramatically larger sum of money than you need to pay, strictly speaking. Any number of affordable online options exist, such as the Carson-Newman MBA degree, built for working and adult students, or other distance education programs. Some programs also offer accelerated pathways to help you earn your degree even sooner. Of course, there are also grants and scholarships. If you don’t qualify, most students can apply for student loans by submitting the FAFSA. Another way to save money is to attend school part time so you can keep working while in school. If you’re wondering about the job implications for the full-time MBA vs. part-time MBA, don’t worry: Employers aren’t fussed if you take longer than a year or two to get the degree. But what about the MBA ROI (return on investment)? Will you really see an MBA salary increase? Most likely, yes. Consider IT workers: While computer programmers can make an average of $98,000 per year, getting the MBA and becoming a computer and information systems manager could bump your salary up to an average of $164,000. Then there are the anecdotal reports from students, of whom 9 out of 10 report the MBA was worth it. Skills Development and Personal Growth What about skills development? MBA programs are rich breeding grounds for developing a wide range of skills that are useful in any work environment, business-oriented or otherwise. Think: Leadership: Becoming a person who can effectively rally and delegate to others is a highly valuable skill. This is a huge part of what employers are looking for when they hire MBA grads. Critical thinking: The business world changes by the day, and those who are light on their feet are most able to change with it. Companies search for candidates with a proven record of thinking deeply and flexibly, and MBA programs are known for instilling such skills in their graduates. Strategic planning: Business is not an off-the-cuff industry. It requires a carefully planned, metrics-based approach. In an MBA program, you will learn how to think and plan strategically. You will also benefit from a huge number of networking and mentorship opportunities while in school. Some classmates may already work at companies in which you’re interested or may go on to do so. Some professors have a deep network of connections in their field and, they may be willing to introduce you and help you grow your career. Together, these skills and opportunities can make it much easier to find a job after graduating from the program, in addition to enriching your time in school. MBA Specializations and Tailoring Your Education Most people, at some point in their program, pick a focus off the MBA specializations list. This includes a huge range of business niches, such as: Human Resources Finance Accounting Marketing International Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management Management Consulting And more While the MBA in general will make you more appealing to employers, selecting a specialty will improve your chances even further – especially if you go into one of the highest-paying specializations, such as Strategy, Corporate Finance, or Information Technology. The Long-Term Benefits of an MBA When choosing an MBA program, it pays to understand the long-term benefits. Not only can it help you improve your marketing, entrepreneurship, and business leadership skills, but there are other MBA advantages as well. These include a lasting MBA alumni network, significant career opportunities you might not even be able to imagine now, and the chance to make a positive impact on the world. Addressing Common Misconceptions and Concerns Because the MBA is ubiquitous, some students worry that it might be undervalued by employers, even those looking for skills in business strategy and planning. The good news is that’s not so. As we discussed above, many employers want to hire business graduates. Some will even offer MBA scholarships to people who work for them in exchange for a promise to keep working there for at least another year or two. If you can’t get a scholarship, will the financial burden be too great to bear? Usually, no. MBA financial aid options abound, both through your school and through foundations to which you can apply for scholarships or grants. Others worry about time constraints because they can’t afford to neglect their families or jobs while studying intensively for a year. That’s where flexible online or hybrid programs come in, helping ensure that you can study on your terms and still walk away with a degree. Another misconception is that you must have an undergraduate degree in business, but that is also untrue. Any undergraduate degree will work to get you into most programs. When choosing an MBA for non-business majors, just make sure that your degree will suffice before paying the admission fee. Other MBA application tips include: Know the application deadlines well ahead of time Take pre-tests for your graduate admission exams Carefully source your recommendations from people you trust Don’t commit to a faster-paced program than your schedule can handle Do all these things, and you can expect significant career growth with an MBA! Learn More! So, is an MBA worth it? Hands-down, the benefits of an MBA degree are manifold, and this kind of executive education can improve your career and life overall. If you want to reach your fullest potential and stand out in the job market, we invite you to learn more about what Carson-Newman University offers. We’ll help you prepare for a rewarding and dynamic career in business, create a valuable network, and find meaningful work with employers through our Master of Business Administration. Ready to learn more? Connect with Carson-Newman today!