Should You Get an MBA?

Resume Writer

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Many individuals on this board have asked questions regarding obtaining an MBA. I found this article and thought I would post it.

Kathy

Let the MBA Buyer Beware

By Jeffrey Pfeffer, August 25, 2005

Many aspiring MBAs consult third-party rankings. But there are serious problems with ranking business schools, which is why this magazine takes an entirely different approach. First, surveying students and alumni to come up with an "objective" score invites bias, because criticizing one’s school diminishes the brand that is one’s degree. Attaching numbers to return on investment is similarly flawed. Forbes gets a 28 percent response rate to its survey assessing pre- and postprogram salaries. If you make the reasonable assumption that the un- and underemployed are more difficult to locate and less likely to respond to a questionnaire that reminds them that they wasted their time and money, then that magazine’s years-to-payback estimates are probably rosier than reality. Recruiters -- another common source of numerical rankings -- are naturally swayed by the accommodations and services offered by on-campus recruitment offices. Would you rate a medical school based on how much hospitals enjoy recruiting there? Instead, how about whether its graduates are better trained than others?

Unfortunately business schools have resisted (to put it mildly) the wave of evaluation and self-examination that has washed over the rest of education. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which accredits U.S. business schools, has talked for years about objective measurements of learning but so far has taken little action. When entrepreneur Mike Mebane and Wake Forest Business School professor Bern Beatty started the Certified MBA organization to test what students learned in core business subjects -- spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure that the test was reliable and valid -- let’s just say that business schools (including my employer, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business) did not jump to participate. Turns out, the schools were doing their reputations a favor: Mebane tells me that a third of students from AACSB-accredited schools fail his exam.

Nevertheless, the most expensive schools are going to come under increasing pressure to prove that they are, to use their own lingo, adding value. Fewer than half of the students currently pursuing MBA degrees are enrolled in full-time, two-year programs. And there is already anecdotal evidence that demand for the most competitive of those full-time programs is flagging. Applications to the top 30 schools in Business Week's rankings fell almost 30 percent between 1998 and 2004. (Some schools on the list saw declines of as much as 50 percent.) Already, highly regarded programs at schools such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Texas at Austin have cut the size of their entering MBA classes.

For now, though, the best advice I can offer is pretty simple: Decide what you want from your business education. If you are chiefly looking to network with high-powered classmates, apply to schools with great reputations and active alumni networks like Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton. If your aim is to learn about business without going bankrupt, however, choose cheaper accredited schools like Purdue or the University of Florida. Better yet, consider schools that offer one-year master’s degree programs -- such as Emory’s Goizueta Business School or France’s Insead -- which will cost less in lost income. Truth is, the concepts and textbooks are about the same wherever you go.

Most important, don’t get an MBA just because it’s what everyone else is doing or because it seems to promise great wealth. An MBA can be a road to a fulfilling career, but only if you know where you’re headed.
 

Goose Egg

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article said:
Most important, don’t get an MBA just because it’s what everyone else is doing or because it seems to promise great wealth. An MBA can be a road to a fulfilling career, but only if you know where you’re headed.

Done, done, and done.

-Goose
 

KigAir

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Where I work, there are a lot of IT Project Managers with MBAs. Business degrees in general seem to be popular. I've also seen a number of Telephone Customer Service Reps with Business BA degrees.
 

FurloughedAgain

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Is an MBA like any other degree? If you don't use it, it's worthless.

I/E - If we all run out to get masters degrees to use as a "plan B", we then fly for another 10 years before deciding to leave aviation, will our Masters then be worth anything?
 

mayday1

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for an MBA to be meaningful to a potential employer, it needs to be coupled with several to many years of business experience. A "standalone" MBA is as valuable as the new CPL w/no experience.

I will say that in the business/corporate world, an MBA will open doors for you and help pad that paycheck... maybe not immediately, but it will pay off... guaranteed.
 

Flic1

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An MBA is the equivalent of spending $80k at some goofy flight academy that includes 5 hours of sim time in an RJ. Both come out thinking they have the world by the balls but neither means squat unless you have some real world experience to back it up.
 
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