Most people go back to business school and get an MBA for one of the following three reasons:
Their employer is paying for it
They feel “stuck” in their current job and want the advancement opportunities possible with an MBA
They want to re-live their college days
The answer to the question, “Is an MBA worth it?”, it depends significantly on which of the above categories you fall into (note: it may also be helpful to compare a CFA® designation vs MBA).
#1 – Is an MBA worth it, if your employer is paying for your MBA?
If your employer is paying for your MBA then it’s pretty much a no-brainer to go get your MBA. The only downside is that it usually ties you to your current company for a few years as most employers clawback the tuition if you leave for another job before a certain amount of time has elapsed after you obtain your degree.
Other than the workload of doing an MBA, there is almost no reason not to do an MBA if your boss is paying for it. They may use it as leverage against you and lock you in, but the ROI is incredible if it’s free (obviously).
#2 – Is an MBA worth it, if you feel stuck in your current job”
If you feel like you can’t move up at your current company and/or want to try something new, then securing an MBA can be a good option. However, the benefits of having an MBA should be carefully weighed against the cost (including the opportunity cost, as you could spend the time it takes to obtain an MBA pursuing some other goal).
The benefits include networking, skills development, personal development, and however much additional income you earn as a result of becoming professionally credentialed.
Potential downside factors include the direct cost of tuition, books, and travel as well as the opportunity cost of forgoing your current compensation for the duration of the program (unless you’re pursuing your MBA on a part-time basis).
Once you’ve compared the relative upside and downside in your particular situation, then you can se two sides of the equation you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s worth it for you to put in the necessary time and effort required to get your MBA degree. The answer will be different for everyone.
#3 – Is an MBA worth it, if you want to re-live your college days?
There are many people who go back to business school at least partly for the lifestyle. Getting your MBA may be the perfect opportunity to have a reset and get back into more social activities. For some people, this involves re-living their undergrad days in college, with no shortage of pub nights and team events.
It’s hard to calculate the ROI on a good time. 🙂
So, is an MBA worth it?
It depends on all of the above. And more.
Add up all of the benefits and compare them to all of the costs.
If you can extract huge value from getting an MBA by getting a big raise, promotion, or new job (and you extrapolate that over several years), then it’s probably worth it.
If you more or less keep the same job, and/or pretty much just partied the whole time you were supposed to be studying, then you’re probably better off taking a bunch of amazing online courses and calling it a day.
More career resources
We pulled together all the resources you need to decide the question of, “Is an MBA worth it?”, and advance your career!, regadless of your decision. Our most popular resources include the following: