Is an MBA worth it?

I’ve been kicking around this question for myself, which is ironic, because if someone asked me if I thought it was worth it, my typical immediate response is “depends.” But as I’ve become more and more involved in hiring the past few years, I’ve realized a couple things:

  1. Your experience, personality, and attitude will take you way farther than a MBA will

–         MBA may get you in the door but won’t keep you safe unless you can perform

2. Unless you have an MBA from a top school, no one cares

3. We don’t want high level MBAs unless we’re hiring for the “wow” factor (to impress the client, for an executive level position that we’re going to use to market with, etc)

A full-time MBA program can easily cost you $80 – 100k and 2 years of precious earning power.  Assuming an average salary for those entering a graduate program of $70k, that is $140k over 2 years, plus benefits, 401k matches, etc.   Medical and other fringe benefits run approximately 30-40% of your base salary, and companies typically offer about 4-6% match on 401ks. Assuming an 8% 401k deduction with 4% company match on a $70k salary, comes to $8,400 per annum.

Benefits (though not included in the salary you receive, are still benefits to you and should be considered as such) add another $24,500 on top of that – so add those together for the 2 years and the costs for attending a full-time MBA program roughly $205k.

Then there’s the time it takes to actually pay off and earn a return on your investment. This article from Newsweek states that MBA grads average about $75k, with only 4% exceeding the $150k mark. PoetsandQuants is now reporting that elite MBA’ers from schools such as Stanford and Harvard take about 10 years or so to recoup the costs of their MBA, with Columbia coming in last of the top 10 at 12.8 years.  If those aren’t dire stats, then I don’t know what is.

So my final determination?  I’m still clueless.  We’ll see.

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2 thoughts on “Is an MBA worth it?

  1. Eeks! When I first finished my degree, I originally thought that an MBA was an amazing thing to do (and then make lots of money). After working for a few years, I’m glad that I waited until I took the plunge.

    I would not be making any money during my MBA, but instead will be bleeding money. For me company, I don’t think it would make a big difference, it’s more about your experience and your work ethics. Maybe when I come up against a “road block” that requires an MBA (or another post grad studies), I will re-evaluate.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more education and I think one should always look to improve thier knowledge, whether it be with further reading or more formal education. It’s just that after realizing the full cost of it, I just have to know that it will be worth it.

  2. For me, no. I won’t earn more than I do with an MBA, so I’d rather not waste a year of income on going to school and studying and be out $100k.

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