Do I Need an MBA?

Thinking about applying for an MBA? Find out if an MBA might be the right step for your career now

Choosing to take a year or two out to study for an MBA is a big commitment, made only bigger when you consider the costs.

But there are many situations where the benefits of an MBA will be worth your while. Here we list a few of the most common reasons professionals choose to study for an MBA.

You’re eyeing up the corner office

MBA programs can be expensive; it’s not just the fees that can drain your savings account, but the lost earnings for the time that you’re studying, too. However, professionals undertaking MBA programs do so with the expectation that their increased earnings following graduation will eventually outweigh the costs.

Indeed, graduates of the top MBA programs in the world often increase their annual pre-MBA earnings by at least 90 percent after they complete their studies, according to data from The Financial Times.

If you’re seeking a promotion, greater leadership responsibilities and higher earnings, an MBA is a tried-and-tested way to climb the career ladder.

You’d like to make some new connections

You know what they say: in business it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Joining an MBA program will allow you to make connections with professionals from different sectors and likely different cultures as well. Getting to know your fellow classmates and the teaching staff will offer a wealth business connections, strengthened by the internship included in many MBA programs. You’ll graduate ready to impress your firm with your new-found connections, or even seek out a new role, using your expanded network. And indeed, in today’s globalized world, it’s great to connect with people from all around the world, and your MBA cohort will likely include participants from many different countries.

You’re looking to move into a new industry

An MBA program is a productive way to hone your professional skills while taking the opportunity to specialize in a new area.

Many programs offer concentrations or specializations that prepare graduates to move into specific industries. One of the most popular career steps for MBA graduates is the management consulting industry, for example; and indeed, many business schools offer MBA specializations in consulting for just this purpose. But many applicants plan to use their MBA to take the leap into other sectors, with MBAs focused on industries like oil and gas, healthcare, and retail, for example

Students will often find that MBA specialization classes are filled with a mix of students who have worked in the industry and those looking to move into it – in many cases both are welcome, and by the end of the MBA, industry newcomers should feel relatively caught-up and well-equipped to seek work in their chosen field.

You want to move into a new functional area

So there are students looking to break into a new industry, and then there are students wanting to develop skills in a new functional area.

MBA programs with concentrations in operations management, finance and marketing are just a few examples of programs where students can become experts in certain business functions.

These concentrations will help prepare students to make the jump into a different functional area. For example, many students with a background in information technology can leverage their tech skills to break into other quant-heavy areas such as supply chain management or business analytics, by pursuing MBA specializations in those areas.

You’re dreaming of work in a new country

For many MBA applicants, programs abroad offer the opportunity to practice business skills in a foreign language.

Programs in the US and UK, but also Canada, Australia and New Zealand are often made up of students from many different countries looking to improve their English skills.

Studying for an MBA abroad offers multiple benefits. The first is the chance to take honed business language skills back to your workplace after graduation, putting yourself in a better position for promotion as you now have a more internationally-focused set of skills.

But studying intensively in another language, like English, can help line you up for roles outside your home country: an internship during the MBA program can help you to seek out employment opportunities in a new setting.

Even if you choose to return home after graduation, the international network you build during your MBA will be with you for life, creating numerous opportunities for your future employment and your business.

If you’re looking to work in another country post-MBA, make sure you are aware of your chosen country’s visa rules.

You want to start your own business

Increasingly, MBA programs can also be ways to turn entrepreneurial ideas into reality.

Not all MBA students are interested in starting their own businesses. But for those who are, many b-schools now offer accelerator programs, startup competitions, and specialized curriculum in entrepreneurship. These MBA elements and other electives can help students develop their business ideas, and then nurture their startups with input from faculty members and entrepreneurs.

As well as the specialist skills and opportunities on offer, the diverse range of classmates on an MBA program makes it an excellent setting to make connections, especially if you plan on building a business with global reach.


Image: Business by Cova CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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