Last week, Financial Times research revealed that the salary-boosting power of having an MBA has been slashed. At the same time, the fees for pursuing a degree have risen substantially. So is there any point in getting an MBA?
Historically, the primary reason to get an MBA was to increase your salary. But the value of the degree has always been about much more than the pay rise you could get out of it.
First, it can open up a new network. I was an entrepreneur looking for my next opportunity, so going to Harvard Business School exposed me to different types of students, professors, industries and ideas. Second, not everyone knows where their passion lies and business school can be a way to discover new opportunities and possibilities. Third, the courses themselves are changing in line with employers’ needs, equipping students with new skills.
So, it still has real value but it is less about the certification and more about the experience.
The writer is design director of Ideo
The average fee for the two-year US degrees in the FT report are $106,000 for those who enrolled last year. That is about the time and amount of seed funding it takes to launch a technology start-up. True, after two years, you are more likely to have an MBA than a successful business but if you start a company you will gain one of employers’ most desired qualifications: entrepreneurial experience.
Networks? My co-founder certainly made great contacts during his MBA, but he rates just as highly those he has made on the start-up scene.
The big question for would-be MBA students is less the (diminishing) contribution to salaries, rather the opportunity costs of not starting something yourself.
The writer is co-founder of OneLeap
The investment value of an MBA is closely linked to the institution from which it was obtained. Employers recognise that top business school graduates are likely to possess attributes such as intellectual agility, self-belief, ambition and an affinity for continued learning. But an MBA is best pursued early on with some experience behind you, rather than in late career. Thereafter it is track record that counts.
MBA graduates are also more likely to bring value in certain sectors and countries, and should target these. In some, an MBA remains a baseline requirement; in others, it has been devalued; in emerging markets, where a high value is placed on education and overseas experience, it remains an important differentiator.
The writer is chairman of the worldwide board of Spencer Stuart