Value of an MBA: Is an MBA Worth It?
The business environment of today requires leaders who are skilled at managing much more than the bottom line. The relationship between business and society has enormous implications and has never been more critical. As evidence, consider how over 180 of the nation’s top CEOs have redefined the purpose of a corporation, through the guidance of The Business Roundtable just over a year ago. Of course shareholders are not forgotten, but the prominence of employees, suppliers, and communities is a notable evolution.
So what does that mean for the value of an MBA? Is it still worth the investment? That question is common and understandable, given the cost of top MBA programs. The good news if you are considering an master’s in business administration (MBA) is that – as much as the business landscape has evolved – MBA programs have also evolved, making the return on investment (ROI) as high as it has ever been.
To address the question (Is the value of an MBA still worth the investment?) on its surface, the financial return on investment for the degree remains highly favorable. It has been well documented that it’s not uncommon for salaries to double for full-time MBA graduates. This has long been the case, but again, this is not the MBA of yesteryear.
In addition to salary increases, the value of an MBA today includes a broadened perspective on the positive influences business can have on humanity. MBA programs have expanded curricular offerings in leadership, ethics, critical thinking, and other academic areas that help today’s students meet the challenges they will face in the organizations they join, advise, and create. Indeed, today’s MBA students expect these topics to be prominently featured, as more qualifiers such as “compassionate,” “connected,” or “conscious” are used by prominent voices to describe the potential for capitalism to positively influence society. In addition to individual MBA courses focused on corporate strategy and social responsibility, business schools are making substantial investments, such as Emory’s Roberto C. Goizueta Business & Society Institute, to demonstrate increased commitments to applying rigorous business acumen to broad challenges that evoke passion and interest from today’s students, such as inequality and climate change.
Our emphasis on these areas has contributed to MBA alumni noting that in addition to the financial rewards of their education, the personal rewards are also significant. A recent Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) survey found that the vast majority of MBA alumni (87% – 95% of respondents) consider their graduate management education personally rewarding. Lifelong friendships and valuable professional networks add immense value to an MBA and are part of what make the MBA experience so personally rewarding. But the opportunity to pursue a business education that is consistent with the zeitgeist of this generation must also be acknowledged as personally rewarding.
As prospective students consider the value of an MBA, it’s important to remember the financial ROI, while often impressive, is an incomplete measure of the growth experienced through our MBA programs. Just as today’s companies measure success by more than profits, today’s MBA programs deliver much more than just high salaries. MBA programs strive to develop holistic leaders who are skilled, disciplined managers as well as socially responsible corporate citizens. Prospective students should be sure to include the personal rewards of the MBA experience when considering ROI. The challenges we share have never been more urgent. Obtaining an education that empowers one to apply the resources of businesses to address those challenges is among the most valuable investments one can make.