Should I Get an MBA? 5 Key Factors to Consider
By Brianna Flavin on 04/25/2023
As you’re starting to advance in your career, one question keeps popping up: Should I get a Master of Business Administration (MBA)? Whether you’ve seen the degree listed as a requirement for your dream job or whether you are looking into potential future career growth, there are plenty of reasons to consider earning an MBA.
Weighing the rewards and challenges of taking on an MBA program can easily get overwhelming. Returning to school is a significant commitment of time and finances you don't want to take lightly.
If you’re thinking through all these questions, you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down five factors you should consider when deciding if you should get an MBA. Keep reading to learn if an MBA could help you launch your career to the next level.
Should I get an MBA? Consider…
1. The impact on earning potential
The most tangible effect of earning your MBA is a potential boost in earnings.
While there are clearly a lot of important variables in play that will influence your earning potential—you can’t just assume you’ll automatically make substantially more money—there’s still a correlation between earning an MBA and increased pay.
Examining salary ranges on job postings in your industry that require an MBA or even asking a trusted industry mentor if they think an MBA is financially worthwhile can further inform your decision.
2. The financial investment
The flipside to a potential MBA-related salary bump is the cost of attendance. It’s no secret that higher education can be a significant investment. And investigating specific MBA programs as well as avenues to make school more affordable will reveal how much the degree will realistically cost.
One of the best ways to save money on an MBA is by taking advantage of employer education assistance options, if available. Many employers consider employee education an asset to their company and have programs to help employees pay to go back to school. Asking HR or your manager if your company has any possibilities to assist you is a great first step to see how much an MBA could cost.
Another option is working full-time while you go to school. Many MBA programs offer night classes, and online MBAs are a great solution for a busy schedule.
And of course, look into the types of financial aid or scholarships you may qualify for. Sites like the U.S. Department of Labor’s Scholarship Finder or Fastweb can help you find scholarships that fit your goals.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) application process can help you see what federal aid options you may be eligible for. Depending on your circumstances, you could be eligible for aid like grants or subsidized loans that can help with the overall cost of your education.
3. The time commitment
Not only is pursuing an MBA a financial commitment, but it’s also a time commitment. Whether you’re already balancing a career and a family or other responsibilities seem to keep adding up, taking an honest look at how much time your graduate schooling will require is important.
Fortunately, with online MBA programs, there’s a lot more flexibility for when, where and how you take on this task. This way, you can fit MBA studies into your lunch breaks, evenings and weekends, with some programs even offering the ability to shift the workload around a little between busy and more open days.
Streamlining your schedule, creating space for study and organizing your life for school are all key aspects to be successful in an MBA program. And as you’re looking at the practicality of an MBA, consider what areas of your life you can—or are willing to—adapt so they are more conducive for school.
4. Will it help with career advancement?
While earning potential and career advancement are typically closely related, it’s worth decoupling the two when weighing whether an MBA is the right move for you. For some career paths, earning a master’s degree can be a necessity—or at least a strongly preferred qualification—for candidates looking to advance.
As you continue to move forward in your career, there may come a point where having an MBA becomes a necessity. If the jobs you’re ultimately after typically list MBA as either a requirement or a preference, then jumping on the matter now may be the right move for setting yourself up for future success.
Even if there’s no requirement for an advanced degree, having one can signal your initiative and experience to an employer. It sets you apart from other candidates and can give you an edge in the promotion or hiring process. Looking at people in similar positions as you—or the job you want—can indicate whether an MBA is important for your career path.
5. Admission requirements
Another factor to consider when examining MBA school is admission requirements. Whether it’s revamping your resume or brainstorming application essay topics, thinking ahead about the application process can help you determine how your application would stack up and whether or not it would need more polishing.
Most MBA programs will have a GPA requirement from your undergraduate program. However, some also have a process to still apply if you don’t meet the GPA cutoff, so it’s worth inquiring if this is an area of concern.
In addition to the GPA requirement, some schools will also need test scores, like the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)® for admission. While that’s not a universal requirement for all MBA programs, earning a strong score on tests like these isn’t a trivial matter—you’ll want to plan and prepare accordingly for this potential requirement.
Beyond quantifiable academic requirements, MBA programs are interested in your life outside the classroom. Your career and life experience are huge assets for your application. You can also speak to the skills that you can bring to the program—as well as what you hope to learn as a student. Many schools are looking for evidence that you’re driven to grow and learn rather than staying stagnant in a job.
Is earning an MBA worth it for you?
With all these factors to consider, you should now have a better idea of what to weigh as you make this important decision. It’s a big commitment, but the benefits have the potential to be big in the right circumstances as well.
So should you get an MBA? That’s for you to decide. But if you’re leaning toward “Yes” to this question, the next step is finding a program that’s right for you. Start your search with our article “6 Things You Should Know About the Rasmussen University MBA Program.”
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Graduate Management Admission Test and GMAT are registered trademarks of the Graduate Management Admission Council.