A top MBA is a substantial investment, with the cost easily running into six figures at the most selective institutions. For those on full-time courses, there’s also the lost earnings from one or two years out of the workforce to factor into the decision to return to school. But many graduates report a strong return on their investment in the MBA. For most participants, the main aim is to increase their salary but personal development, but interpersonal skills and ethics also matter to them.
1. An MBA can help you make more money
The bottom line is that a good MBA program can provide a measurable increase in salary. In fact, for most of the trustworthy MBA rankings, the post-MBA salary increase is one of the main metrics for judging a school’s quality in relation to others. Taking the FT’s ranking, the average salary after graduation is a hefty $142,000, though at the top schools the figure is significantly higher. And the overall average boost to salary is above 100 percent. Almost two-thirds of alumni more than doubled their salaries in the three years after graduation.
2. An MBA can help with career advancement
For those thinking about embarking on a full-time MBA, money will be a big consideration and therefore career development will be critical. One of greatest appeals of doing an MBA is that the degree can help you take the next step up in your career. Many prospective students will have hit a career plateau, they need something else to get to a more senior management position. An MBA can add specific business skills to your toolkit, such as leadership or strategic thinking, that will come in use when applying for management-level positions or promotions.
3. An MBA can help you switch into a new job sector
It is often a change in job sector that spurs many people to apply for an MBA, with about two-thirds of applicants typically looking for a career change. Students who want to shift from one industry to another will find that an MBA can help them with specific information that may be necessary for the new industry.
An MBA can help you learn about other functional areas and industries, knowledge that is very useful for career-switchers. For instance, changing from the retail sector to the energy sector might require specific knowledge about regulatory issues or energy policy. Likewise, changing from one functional area, like information technology, to another, like marketing, might require a different way of thinking about business.
In either case, some students find that a specialized MBA program can help them bridge those gaps. Many schools offer students the chance to customize the curriculum to their professional interests or personal tastes in the form of elective courses, concentrations, specializations and even entire degrees in subjects such as technology.
4. An MBA program can help you move to a new place
Many students will achieve the “triple hit” of changing job, sector and country that is often craved by MBA students. An MBA program can be a good way to move to another city, or even another country. Just being in a new place for one or two years can help you get the lay of the land, find companies that you want to work for, and arrange meetings with potential employers. In fact, many students choose their MBA program based on location — with a view of staying and working after graduation, at least initially.
Those who do want to move to a new country should be aware of language requirements and visa regulations. Some MBA rankings rate schools based on a metric called “international mobility”, which is the number or percentage of graduates who end up working in a country that’s different from where they are from. This can be useful for those seeking a globally mobile career.
5. An MBA can help you meet people
It’s often said that in business, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that counts. And if you do an MBA, you can meet a lot of people: you’ll be surrounded by professors, faculty, and students from all over the world. For many students, it’s the networking that really pays off, bringing more than just an address book of good old friends. Indeed, it’s a network of potential customers, employees, investors and business partners.
Internships – which are a required component of many two-year MBA programs that are common in the US – are a good way to get a foot in the door of companies and industries that you are interested in. It’s also a good way to try out a new job sector before fully committing to that career path.
Beyond internships, most business schools will sponsor events such as panels and mixers, where you can meet people from the business world and beyond. Additionally, many career service departments will host networking events, where potential employers will come and introduce themselves to you and your fellow students. All of these will prove to be invaluable assets as you look for jobs after graduation.