The 9 Best Reasons for Getting an MBA Degree
Understanding the Numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.
You know you want to take your career to the next level, and you're ready to get down to business with a master's degree. Perhaps you've heard that an MBA is the best way to go. But what exactly is an MBA, and how do you know it's the right choice for you?
An MBA stands for Master in Business Administration. It’s a master’s degree geared toward current and aspiring business professionals. Earning this credential signals to employers and colleagues that you have gained educational expertise in the various facets of business administration.
Why Get an MBA
Your decision to apply for MBA degree programs can be personal and unique — just like the journey to earning one. Here are nine reasons why getting an MBA might make sense for you.
#1 Boost Your Salary Potential
Earning an MBA is an investment, but research indicates it can also increase your financial gain right away. The median starting salary for MBA graduates is $115,000, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council's (GMAC) 2022 Corporate Recruiters Survey (Corporate Recruiters PDF source).*
That's 53% more than employees with a bachelor’s-level education, who, GMAC reports, earn a median salary of $75,000.* This means that MBA graduates are positioned early to out-earn their colleagues with only a bachelor's degree.
The starting salary for MBA graduates is also greater than the median salary for those with any type of master's degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports those with a master's degree earned a median of approximately $86,372 in 2022.*
#2 Increase Opportunities for Employment and Advancement
An MBA can help you bolster your identity in the workforce, whether you're just starting out or are looking for a career change. In 2022, 92% of surveyed recruiters said they planned to hire MBAs, GMAC's Corporate Recruiters Survey reported.*
Those three letters — MBA — can add weight to your resume, professional profile and email signature. They signal to employers that you have advanced business knowledge.
Justin Reedy ’21MBA hopes to one day own his own consulting company or achieve an executive position. He believes his advanced business education at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) will help him get there. “The MBA is a foundational piece of achieving these dreams,” he said.
Data from GMAC's Corporate Recruiters Survey agrees: 74% of surveyed recruiters believe business school graduates are often fast-tracked to upper-level positions.*
#3 Obtain Holistic Business Knowledge and Skills
Whether you opt to add a concentration or not, MBAs can be applied to all facets of a business and help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to grow as a professional.
Recruiters report high levels of confidence when it comes to the skills of business school graduates, according to GMAC's Corporate Recruiters Survey, especially relating to:
- Communication: 73%*
- Versatility of skill set: 68%*
- Strategic thinking: 66%*
While the MBA curriculum can vary by institution, many offer core classes that help you explore how different aspects of business come together. At SNHU, for example, courses discuss the intersection of business disciplines as well as business strategy, success measurement, management of people, organizations and change — and more.
"Interleaving," or mixing several subjects together, leads to better long-term retention and knowledge transferability than "blocked" learning, according to Dr. Katie Carpen, an associate dean of business programs at SNHU.
SNHU alumnus Reedy decided to earn an MBA so he could become a well-rounded business professional. He said the general MBA track helped him do just that, gaining greater fluency in accounting, finance and business writing. “I would recommend the MBA to anyone that works in business and wants to comprehensively understand their business better,” he said.
The best MBA programs give you the space to practice solving genuine business problems. Using teaching methods such as scenario-based learning (SBL), you can gain relevant experiences that supplement the theories you learn and help you overcome challenges.
"Expertise comes from experience, and SBL allows students to experience growth from taking risks, sometimes failing and learning from mistakes," Carpen said.
#4 Specialize Your Skill Set
If there's an area of business that interests you most, you can find an MBA degree that offers concentrations or specializations that let you focus on that particular subject.
Consider an MBA in Healthcare Management, for instance. In addition to the core courses you'll take, you may have the opportunity to navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to push your organization and career forward.
The healthcare industry is in the market for MBA graduates, too. GMAC's Corporate Recruiters Survey found that 97% of recruiters in the healthcare industry said they planned to hire MBA graduates in 2022.*
Faizan Malik ’21MBA decided to earn a master’s degree that complements his role in health information technology — so he chose an MBA in Healthcare at SNHU.
“The decision to pursue an MBA in this area was simple at that point,” he said. “I could advance in my career while learning about topics that I was actually interested in.” He has used what he learned in his program to make improvements within his team and seek out new opportunities.
#5 Gain New Perspectives
With a greater understanding of various aspects of business comes new perspectives — even if you've already logged years of experience in the workplace.
Although Malik worked in health information technology before earning an MBA, he said some of his courses gave him different points of view to consider and introduced him to other processes happening within his workplace.
Not only can the information in MBA courses introduce you to new concepts and perspectives, but the people you're learning from and alongside can too.
GMAC's 2022 report, The Value of Graduate Management Education, found that 70% of graduate business school alumni believed their advanced degree prepared them to work for culturally diverse organizations (GMAC Value PDF Source).*
Throughout your program, you may have the chance to hear from peers and instructors from diverse backgrounds, adding depth and a range of experiences to class discussions.
#6 Grow Your Professional Network
As soon as you enroll in a degree program, you’ll enter a community of peers, faculty, staff and alumni.
If you attend a university with an active student body, expansive alumni association and faculty who double as industry professionals, you can tap into a large group of people who can help you grow in many ways.
Alongside an increase in employability and preparation to work in culturally diverse organizations, The Value of Graduate Management Education report by GMAC found that 76% of business school alumni said their graduate degree developed their professional network.
Professional networking is valuable throughout your career. Even when you graduate, you’ll remain part of your alma mater’s community.
The relationships you build and the industry knowledge you gain can support your personal and professional development. Joining the alumni community might lead to opportunities for mentoring and supporting current students who are finding their place in the business world.
#7 Spend Less Time and Money Than You Might Think
When considering the logistics of getting a master’s degree, how much time and tuition it will take are likely some of your deciding factors.
For example, an online MBA from SNHU is 30 credits in length and can take just over one year to complete if you’re going to school full-time — that’s two courses per term.
While college is an investment, it doesn’t need to break the bank. Tuition for some programs, like SNHU’s, cost less than $20K. Military status can reduce that further, and you may be able to take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs through your employer.
Many graduate students are also eligible for financial aid and scholarships, so filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — FAFSA — is important.
Learn more about how to pay for college.
#8 Bypass Common Barriers to Graduate Education
Arranging and preparing for standardized testing takes time — and can be an additional cost in your pursuit of a master’s degree. The good news is some graduate schools have moved away from requiring scores from traditional tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
So, applying to MBA programs with no scores required means you might begin your degree sooner. You will, however, need to provide a transcript from your undergraduate education. Staff at some schools will help you with this step for you.
There are many types of master’s programs these days. Whether you want to attend your classes in person or at a pre-determined time each week — or would prefer the flexibility that online degrees at your own pace offer — there’s sure to be an MBA out there that meets your needs.
In addition to deciding whether in-person instruction or online courses are worth it for you, you’ll want to consider term lengths and course loads. For example, SNHU offers five 10-week graduate terms each year. You can go to school online part-time (one class per term) or full-time (two classes per term).
#9 Achieve Personal Fulfillment
While it’s true an MBA degree can benefit your professional life, some people choose to pursue their degree for very personal reasons.
In addition to wanting an advanced degree that matched his field, Malik decided to earn an MBA because it was important to his family — especially his father. “They always wanted me to continue my education, and I can’t thank them enough for pushing me as well,” he said.
According to a 2021 survey, 74% of graduate degree holders said accomplishing a personal goal is a major benefit of earning a college degree.** It takes persistence and dedication, and receiving your diploma is a tremendous achievement many graduates and their families celebrate.
“In my personal life, just the overwhelming feeling of being proud of my accomplishment — from myself and my family — has been more than enough,” Malik said.
Types of MBA Concentrations
There are numerous angles and aspects of a business — some you may enjoy and find more relevant than others. That’s why you can choose to focus on one of many types of MBA concentrations.
Some of your options include:
- MBA in Accounting
- MBA in Entrepreneurship
- MBA in Human Resources
- MBA in Marketing
- MBA in Project Management
If you prefer, you could follow a general MBA track instead and use your business electives to explore multiple areas of interest.
No matter what type of MBA you pursue, you'll want to be sure it's earned accreditation. For example, SNHU's program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
MBA Program Requirements
A bachelor’s level education is the general prerequisite to the MBA application process. From there, every institution has its own application and admission process.
For example, some may require specific test scores or essays, while others may schedule formal interviews or request letters of recommendation. Once you decide where you want to apply, be sure to speak with an admission counselor about any requirements you may need to have your application considered.
The MBA curriculum varies by program, too, but you can generally expect to take core classes when enrolled in an MBA degree program.
SNHU’s MBA, for example, requires seven core courses that weave together different areas of business for a holistic point of view on overarching matters of a business. In addition, there may be a handful of business electives you can allocate to a specific concentration or choose to cherry-pick among a range of classes.
Toward the end of your program, you may also need to complete a culminating experience course or capstone.
So, Is It Worth It to Get an MBA?
If you’re looking to grow as a business professional and you can find a program and institution that feels right for you, earning an MBA may be worth it. Adding those three hard-earned letters — MBA — to your title can be personally rewarding and make you a more competitive employee.
“If you want to advance in your career, or even just do it for yourself, I will say an MBA is more than worth it,” Malik said. “Going back to school will likely be the hardest part for most people, but once you see that degree in the mail and all the doors it unlocks for you, you will only be remiss you didn’t do it sooner.”
MBA programs can help you upskill, supporting your development of hard and soft skills that transfer to the workplace. “For someone who is looking to get into management, my MBA courses definitely gave me new skills and knowledge base,” Malik said. “From a refresher on basic finance and accounting skills to learning how various business laws and compliance policies work to (an) in-depth understanding of IT infrastructure and current healthcare informatics trends, the skills learned throughout the program are really invaluable.”
Explore academic catalogs to get a sense of the courses you might take if enrolled in a particular school’s MBA program, as well as the learning outcomes, and see how they align with your interests. You could also speak with your employer, mentor or admission counselor at a university that interests you to see if their program seems like the right fit for your short and long-term professional goals.
Down the road, some business professionals may wish to take their education even further. Such is the case with Malik, who is on his way to earning a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) now that he has his MBA diploma in hand.
Discover more about SNHU’s online MBA programs: Find out what courses you'll take, skills you’ll learn and how to request information about the program.
*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.
**Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Kantar on behalf of Southern New Hampshire University in December of 2021. Opinions from 500 general population respondents were obtained using their omnibus survey. For complete survey methodology, please contact Megan Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca LeBoeuf Blanchette ’18 '22G is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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