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Is an MBA Worth It?

written by: Dr. Ranee Kaur Banerjee•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 6/18/2010

The MBA is the most popular business management qualification in the world, but is for you? This article tries to clarify your concepts and give you an answer to whether an MBA is worth it in terms of your finances, your time and your effort.

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    The Master in Business Administration, or MBA, is a professional business qualification aimed at those who have a few years of working experience and desire to take the next step up and want a more expanded role in the running of an organization.

    It must be emphasized that the MBA is not an academic degree; it is a practical course that provides all the theoretical and experiential knowledge required for the management of a business.

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    In the last decade, the MBA has become a fad for many youngsters who treat it as a post-graduate degree to be added to their résumé almost immediately after they have completed their first undergraduate qualification. MBA institutes have mushroomed everywhere, with many schools partnering up with each other across the globe to offer their MBA brand on several campuses across nations.

    The fact that most major recruiters all over the world have come to trust the qualification as a global standard for careers in management has also added to the popularity of the course and the thousands of applications for seats in institutes across continents—never mind the quality of the program.

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    Because of the exploding global demand for the qualification, many permutations of the original 2-year, full time degree course are now available: distance, online, off-campus, accelerated, one-year, part-time and more, catering to almost every budget and convenience.

    You no longer have to give up your life as you know it to pursue this course of study. You needn't travel to England, for instance, to get an MBA from Edinburgh University; you could do it entirely from your own space and at your own pace at the fraction of the cost of a full-time program, albeit under certain constraints.

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    Is an MBA Worth It?

    Obviously the course is popular and many people want the qualification.

    The question to ask is whether the MBA is worth it for you. Any meaningful MBA curriculum at any reputable school will require you to invest a significant amount of money, a substantial expense of time away from work, a sacrifice of most of your social life, a very difficult degree of discipline, and considerable personal commitment to the program. It is not an easy qualification to seek and you must be prepared to face a punishing schedule of study and co-curricular activities.

    Like any professional course, an MBA is worth it only if you’re suited for the curriculum. Not everybody can be a doctor or an engineer or an architect or an accountant. If you don’t have the natural inclination and aptitude in a particular area of study, no amount of wishing or trying will make you excel in your chosen field or give you the job satisfaction that you desire from your work life.

    On the other hand, if you’re sure you want a career in management, the MBA qualification will surely help you. Given that head-hunters and HR people seem to trust the grounding and training provided by the standard MBA program, getting a job you like can become easier with an MBA qualification on your résumé. Since your understanding of business administration will have expanded because good MBA programs strive to give their students in-depth, real-world, hands-on, practical application-oriented experiences along with the theoretical grounding, you will almost certainly find it easier to advance along your career path.

    A caveat: you should first understand your aspirations and get a feel for whether you’re suited to business administration. Give yourself a few years to test whether this is what you would like to do for the rest of your work life and then go for the qualification if you still have the enthusiasm. You will get a lot more value out of the course if you come from a position of knowing the ground realities of being part of an organization. At the same time, the program will then be more real, more worthwhile and mean a lot more to you than just studying for a degree.

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    Don’t apply for an MBA degree just because everybody is doing it or because someone told you it would help you get a better job. You won't find it rewarding and you will definitely not gain much value from the expense of the money, the time and the effort that the program requires from you.

    Go for an MBA only if you really, truly think management is your forte and if you want to spend 30 or 40 years of your life solving organizational problems and administrating the various resources of a business enterprise. If that is what you want and if that is where you think your talents and interests lie, the MBA degree is most definitely worth it for you and will prove to be invaluable for your future in the workplace.

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