Education always has value—and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most important and respected degrees to pursue, whether you want to become a leader in your organization, launch a career in a new sector, or start your own business. Earning a degree from an accredited MBA program will not only allow you to develop advanced business acumen that you can apply to your work, but it will also enhance your ability to continue to learn on your own and determine what questions to ask and where to find answers.
Working in the real world has merit and provides important business experience, but an MBA teaches students to anticipate and predict business problems that haven’t even happened yet, and be able to create a plan to address them in a thoughtful and ethical way.
Three Letters With Big Meaning
MBA graduates know business, but they also understand that they are a part of a bigger system and understand how to look at issues from multiple perspectives to improve their business’ organizational performance. Contemporary MBA programs teach students how to apply relevant knowledge and concepts appropriately. MBA graduates prepare to become decision-makers who are agents for positive change within their organizations and communities.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC), as of 2015, the median starting annual salary for new MBA graduates was $100,000—nearly twice the median salary of a recent four-year college graduate. The worth of an MBA is greater than the boost in income potential, however, because it helps students develop the skills needed to continue to build their knowledge about problems and solutions—both innovatively and systematically—long after their program is completed. In addition, MBA programs can offer unparalleled networking opportunities for students and alumni, opening up a global network of potential partners and employers.
So Many Options, So Much Opportunity
An MBA program enables students to develop a wide range of business knowledge, as well as leadership, critical analysis, communication, and technical skills in a relatively short period of time, all while continuing to work. With the number of programs and options available, there is an MBA program that is right for you.
How do you make your MBA work for you? Here are four tips to get you started.
1. Think big picture to narrow your focus.
Accurately identify your career goals to determine whether a general or specialized MBA will best meet those objectives. Next, reflect on your priorities and commitments to determine how much time you have available to devote to the rigors of the program. This analysis will enable you to determine whether a full-time or part-time program will work best for your schedule.
2. Compare your learning style with your lifestyle.
Understand what type of learner you are, and how much flexibility you need in your schedule to determine whether on-campus or online learning is the best fit. For example, are you a working professional who wants to apply what you learn to your job, do you travel frequently or have multiple demands on your time?
3. Consider the net worth of your network.
It’s important to think about who you will be studying with. Consider things like the reputation and quality of the school, who the instructors are and what experience they have, who your peers are, and what you will be able to learn from each another. If you are more interested in developing skills within your local industry, a local institution may better serve your needs. If a broad experience base of the latter is important, consider a program that offers an online option where you can study with learners from across the globe.
4. Familiarize yourself with accreditation.
It’s paramount that programs are accredited, because it demonstrates that the program is following recognized professional standards of quality that are endorsed by business, government, and regulatory organizations. The three major MBA program accrediting bodies in the United States are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), and the Management Development Network (EFMD), internationally.
It really does come down to making your own list of what matters most to you and what you want to achieve, and then finding the school that best aligns with your objectives. It’s effort that will pay off in the long term. Earning an MBA, and being able to contribute to a healthy business environment, will not only position you for greater career growth and income potential, but also enable you to contribute to positive change that society both demands and desires.