Is an MBA Worth It?

By Mike Zeliff, Dean, Jack Welch Management Institute

If you’ve ever considered getting your MBA, you’ve probably asked yourself the million-dollar question: Is business school worth it? It’s a fair question, particularly as going back to school as an adult often requires shuffling your priorities so you can make time for class and assignments.

So, what’s right for you? As you consider whether to pursue an MBA, ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I expect a return on investment after attending business school?

Pursuing an MBA requires a significant commitment of time and money. Thus, you should weigh the return on your investment. Recent survey findings show that an online MBA program may be the way to go. A staggering 77 percent of 648 MBA grads surveyed reported an increase in pay, a promotion, or both. And, online students fared better when it comes to advancement, with 84 percent receiving a raise, a promotion, or both compared to 69 percent of traditional MBA students who take classes on-ground. Why do more online MBA students see promotions and raises at a higher rate? It may be that students who take online business courses often continue to work while earning their degree.

But an MBA’s return on investment is not just monetary—it includes individual values, such as confidence and personal growth that can be capitalized on beyond just business applications and into one’s personal life.

2. Can I apply what I learn to my job?

Adult students who are working and attending business school can bring important value to employers if they can immediately apply what they learn in the classroom today to the workplace tomorrow. Choosing a program that integrates current business trends and content with practical application ensures a return for companies and students. Faculty can also play a significant role in this approach. Consider programs that provide opportunities to learn directly from faculty with practical experience in business, not just a mastery of theory or research experience.

Adding value to your job doesn’t end with improved business acumen. A 2018 skills gap analysis conducted by LinkedIn revealed the most in-demand skills according to employers are leadership, communication, and collaboration.

Bottom line: Businesses are looking for skilled employees who can lead people. With leadership skills so highly sought after in the current job market, it makes sense to evaluate how MBA programs equip students to be leaders when trying to determine whether business school is worth it.

3. Does the program fit my schedule?

The ability to take online classes can be a game changer, particularly for working adults who cannot afford to stop working to go to school. Instead of committing yourself to a traditional, brick-and-mortar program, look to see if online courses or other flexible program options are available.

4. Are the business school and its MBA program reputable?

Any way you look at it, rankings are critical. A well-regarded business school can help you while networking, job searching, and applying for promotions. These rankings are often determined by student surveys and criteria including faculty, technical platforms, and career outcomes. Resources like The Princeton Review, Poets & Quants, and CEO Magazine deliver helpful annual rankings to guide prospective students.

Is an MBA worth it? If you want to advance your career, increase your earning potential, or develop as a leader (which has shown to increase your chances of the former), then pursuing an MBA program is worth considering.

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About the Jack Welch Management Institute: Founded by celebrated business leader Jack Welch
and infused with his singular insights, the Jack Welch Management Institute seeks to transform the lives of students by providing them with the tools they need to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win. JWMI was recently named a top-ranked online MBA program by the Princeton Review and CEO Magazine, as well as ranked #1 in Student Satisfaction with the Ability to Apply What you Learn to Your Job by Poets & Quants, a leading graduate school publication.