Some critics have contended that a Master of Business Administration (MBA), traditional or online, is no longer a degree worth the time, money, and effort required. Granted, an MBA is not always a free pass into the job market. Typically an MBA is one of the many factors that employers are looking for, but it is still a global benchmark that employers require in leaders and managers around the world. But before students enter into an MBA program, they must answer this important question:
Is it worth it?
Return on Investment
To answer this question, we must define the degree's ROI, Return on Investment. A ROI, simply put, will help show the investment of time, effort, and money into the program will produce a greater return afterwards. To find the ROI, we must determine what students will gain professionally and financially.
When exploring a program's professional ROI, you have to look at what kind of knowledge you will gain and the benefit it will add to your professional career. Some critics will contend that an MBA has lost its prestige and that employers no longer see it as a strong professional attribute. Others state that smaller, cheaper, and more specific master's programs might be just as good and give a bigger bang for your buck.
Fortune has stated that the Master of Business Administration degree has become the most popular postgraduate degree in the U.S. and that the Department of Education shows that "advanced degrees today are as common as bachelor's degrees were in the 1960s." But the fact is that the popularity of the degree does not lessen the importance of the degree, but makes the job market more competitive. Thus making an MBA more critical. You might ask why, but the answer can be found in the topics covered in a typical MBA program. In most MBA degrees you will usually at least explore the topics of Managing and Leadership, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Economics, Ethics, Operations Management, Business Law, Statistics, and Business Communication. No matter the field, engineering, retail, nonprofit, hospitality, etc., employers are looking for proven, skilled leaders who can understand business complexities and lead processes and people in the midst of organizational change. An MBA is a global identifying marker of professionals with that training. The MBA education benefits include important foundational skills and knowledge as well as a globally identifiable professional degree for your resume.
Others might contend that new, shorter, cheaper, specific master's programs, like a Master's in Management, Master's in Leadership, Masters in Finance, etc. are more beneficial. While some shorter specific master's programs can be beneficial, they are by definition, more specific. Students will loose the flexibility of an MBA. When looking at the professionals 50 years ago and how it was normal to stay within one job for a whole career, a more specific education would offer no hindrance. But because of the migratory professionals of today, the broad business and leadership education of an MBA can offer a cross-sector skill benefit as career changes happen.
With the popularity of MBA programs the number of graduates with MBA degrees keeps climbing, leading some to argue that supply and demand has kicked in. They contend that costs of MBA programs are climbing and that the pay of MBA graduates is stagnant. While the prices of MBA programs are climbing every year, the financial ROI is still positive. According to PayScale's salary research, the benefit of advanced degrees can be very lucrative. Even in the most expensive private schools, you can see a significant benefit. Carnegie Mellon University shows a 4-year cost of $234,500 for a bachelor's degree and then shows an early career salary of $62,330 and a mid-career salary of $111,700 with the bachelor's degree alone. With a master's degree, Carnegie Mellon graduates receive an average early career salary of $77,500 and a mid-career salary of $121,200! Forbes states that, "Top 50 schools typically realize starting salaries 50% higher than what they were earning in the year before starting business school. Then, over the next five years, their pay nearly doubles."
Fortune states, "A business degree remains one of the most predictable paths to success and financial stability." Not only is it a common requirement for management and higher-level roles, but it also provides critical training for entrepreneurs. Business owners can reap the rewards of not only higher salaries, but also of tax benefits and the personal benefits of being your own boss. Fortune lists benefits includ flexibility, better quality of life, social mobility, and reducing the odds of unemployment.
The benefits to a Master of Business Administration have stood strong and true over the years. In recent years with technological advances, we now have the benefits of this degree with the added flexibility and accessibility of an online format. With an online MBA, you can do it at your pace and while working and juggling other responsibilities. There's no need to put your life on hold. You can advance your job and pursue additional internships while studying, and finish one to two years ahead of your traditional education counterparts.