MBA road sign pointing to the future

Is an MBA right for you? Maybe if you have a clear understanding of how the degree fits in with your career goals.

Updated: August 27, 2014

An MBA is a huge investment of time and money. How do you know if it’s right for you?

As new careers are being created on a daily basis, the education system is attempting to keep up by offering specialized new courses that are tailored for actual jobs in the workplace.

Many post-secondary programs, including the controversial MBA Degree, are offering flexible programs to keep up with the new requirements of individuals and employers.

So if you’re thinking about getting an MBA degree, there are a lot more options available to you now.

Let’s go into a little more detail about the MBA. What is it, who’s it for, and is it right for you?

What is the MBA degree?

The MBA is a master’s degree in business administration. It’s a way for individuals to gain a more insightful understanding of the business world as a whole. Some of the topics of study include marketing, accounting, statistics, finance, economics, human resources, organizational behaviour, and corporate strategy.

The MBA started out as a two year degree program that has gradually evolved in to a more flexible and customized course of study.  Individuals are now able to complete the degree in the most efficient way possible with options for accelerated, part-time, executive MBA, dual MBA, co-op MBA, and distance learning MBA programs.

MBA candidates can focus on certain areas instead of studying all business topics.  You can find MBA programs that are tailored to focus on executive management, or you can earn another degree alongside your MBA such as a law degree.

The key to selecting the most relevant program is to be really clear about your motivation for getting an MBA and which program is the most relevant to your career goals.

Who is the MBA degree for?

The MBA accepts individuals with a background in a variety of academic disciplines.  Although there are predominant backgrounds that are typical for MBA students, people have found success in attaining this degree from a variety of business, science, technology and communications backgrounds.

For example, if you are coming from a technology background, you might consider getting an MBA if your career goal is to bring your technology skills to a senior business management role. If your goal is to work as a developer or to remain in in any sort of hands on technical role, an MBA may not be worth the investment.  But if your goal is to eventually work up to the CFO or CIO level of a corporation, then an MBA maybe be a great tool to help you achieve that dream.

Potential Benefits of an MBA degree

Although this topic has been debated for years on end, there are a few proven career advantages to receiving an MBA.

  • Competitive advantage – In some situations, it is advantageous to have an MBA degree, especially when striving for management positions within fortune 500 companies where it pretty common for these individuals to possess one.
  • Raise in salary – Generally individuals who attain this degree will see a raise in income. The amount can vary based upon the industry and opportunity for the individual.
  • Industry switch – Getting an MBA is a great boost if you are looking to switch industries. Individuals in this position may look into a co-op MBA to get the relevant work experience along with the education.
  • Networking opportunities – The alumni network is a powerful tool and can open many doors for graduates.
  • Soft skills – The leadership and strategic thinking skills amongst others are just a few examples of skills that will be strengthened through attaining this degree.

Con’s

On the flip side, there are a few issues which can outweigh the positives of getting an MBA.

  • Cost – An MBA is not a cheap with the tuition typically ranging between $20-80 thousand dependent on your choice of institution. This cost can be extremely overwhelming and not feasible for many. Especially if you do not have a clear career path laid out that requires an MBA.
  • Getting an MBA just to have it on your resume – Unless you have a specific purpose for getting the degree or you may not get your ROI out of it. Make sure that it’s not just a backup plan because you’re not sure what to do with your career.

So What Should You Do?

Well since the fate of your career is in your own hands ideally, it’s important think about what you want out of your career and how you can make that happen. An MBA may or not be the best option for you but that’s your choice to make!

Try to be realistic and specific about your reasons for getting an MBA, to make sure that you have good chance of getting a positive ROI that makes the investment is worth the risk.

Infographic: The ROI of an MBA

Brought to you by MBA@UNC: an online mba program

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