Should I get an MBA? It’s a question that has haunted many a business grad. Sometimes the grass truly is greener on the postgraduate side, but then again, sometimes it isn’t. Which is why you need to carefully consider your options before hopping the fence.
In 1908, Harvard became the first university to offer an advanced business degree—the first graduating class consisted of 47 students led by 15 faculty members. Fast forward to 2016: 4,000 MBA programs at over 450 schools with more than one million students and 150,000 new graduates each year. And that number is growing, as the MBA has become the most popular postgraduate degree in the United States.
Maybe I Should...
In many situations, the grass is in fact greener, and perhaps much greener. The MBA continues to be the highest ROI graduate degree available. It can help you stand out in a dreadfully crowded marketplace—96% of employers believe that hiring MBA grads adds value to their companies. An MBA also has the potential to give your salary and your overall career a nice boost—in a survey of 14,279 alumni of 275 MBA programs worldwide, alumni reported base salaries that totaled $1 million more over the two decades following MBA graduation. 89% of alumni said their MBAs have proven to be professionally rewarding, and 70% said an MBA has led to faster career development. Participating in an MBA program helps grow your professional network, which can prove crucial for mentoring and job searching.
Or Maybe I Shouldn’t...
On the flip side, sometimes the grass is just a faded yellow on the other side. Your bank account might not swell as much as you had hoped it would. Your starting salary could be $125,000 if you graduate from Harvard Business School, but it could be as low as $60,000 if you graduate from a lower-ranked school. And the MBA does not come cheap—it can cost over $200,000 at a top school. Then factor in the two years of salary you’ll miss while in a full-time MBA program. Weigh the costs versus benefits carefully. Keep in mind that there are other ways to network and advance your career that don’t come with an outrageous price tag.
For some, it’s simply a matter of watering the grass on your side rather than hopping the fence into postgraduate life. For others, sprinklers and Miracle Grow just won’t cut it—it’s time to climb. The important thing is that you think through your decision carefully and make sure you are climbing for the right reason. We made a helpful flowchart to help you think through whether an MBA makes sense for you. Even life decisions are made easier with diagramming.