Is an MBA worth the financial investment to your career?

There's a school of thought that to be successful in senior management requires an MBA. We look at the simple pros and cons of this investment.

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Women are constantly being urged to keep up-skilling during career breaks and into senior leadership positions, but are post-graduate studies really the answer to success?

According to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, Australians are ‘upskilling like never before’ with the number of Australians holding Postgraduate Degree up by 46 per cent since 2011.

 But we also hear of entrepreneurs and startup founders without university business degrees, such as fitness guru Kayla Istines, and start to wonder whether investing in a Masters of Business (MBA) is relevant anymore.

Here’s some of the pros and cons to consider if you are mulling over whether your next step involves doing your MBA.

The Pros

Expand your network: An MBA’s value is not just in the academic education but also in increasing your network. You will meet ambitious peers and renowned professors from all walks of life, dramatically strengthening the quality and size of your network that you can tap into for a long time.

Fuel your career advancement: Having a higher degree on your credentials doesn’t guarantee success. However, MBA could and often does pay off down the road as you move up the ladder. In many employers’ minds, MBA is equivalent to having had leadership training. So it might be easier for you to pursue and be seriously considered for competitive leadership opportunities.

The Cons

Financial Investment:  MBAs are not cheap. The more esteemed institutions charge up to $100,000 or more for all expenses. Yes, you can get cheaper loans and possibly scholarship but remember that you likely won’t be working or have a strong source of income during the two year-commitment.

Limit on course selection: While many MBA programs offer a wide variety of courses to match constantly changing  dynamics in the global markets and to accommodate unique individual preferences, they still have limitations on the type of hybrid courses they could offer and you will have to take ones you are not interested in to meet the minimum requirement.

Time investment: This needs to be addressed separately from the financial investment as it has different implications. Traditional MBAs require a couple of years for a full-time study commitment. This is a time you could use to attain real-life experience in a desired field. It might impact your career trajectory timeline so you should think carefully about it.

Ultimately, nobody can make this decision for you. Your educational choice depends on your personal and financial situation. Key questions to ask yourself are:  where you are in your career, and what you want for your future?


This Financy article has been published in partnership with James Cook University.

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