Is an MBA a Good Investment?

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An MBA student collaborates with a colleague at work.

If you’re looking for ways to advance your career, you might be considering a Master of Business Administration (MBA). But why get an MBA? What are the benefits and what can you learn in this type of program?

Earning an MBA can be an unparalleled investment in your future in a number of ways. Here are some reasons why a graduate-level business education — like the Online MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland — can be worth it for your career.

What Does an MBA Teach You?

The return on your educational investment isn’t just a financial one; it’s also important to consider how you will grow and what you will learn as an MBA student. An MBA experience can give you the chance to hone various professional skills and expand the depth and breadth of your business knowledge.

With that in mind, why get an MBA from an educational standpoint? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest takeaways you can expect from an MBA degree program.

Leadership Skills

As an MBA student, you’ll have the chance to develop the skills required to successfully manage and motivate teams. Learning how to lead is essential if you want to thrive in the workplace or run your own business. The best leaders don’t just provide direction and guidance to their team members. It’s about generating results for everyone on the team, as well as the organization. Successful leaders unite the people they manage around a shared vision and make space to support each team member along the way.

Studying the principles and theories of leadership will give you a solid foundation, while hands-on business management experiences will help you put those skills to practice. During your time in an MBA program, you will learn from your own mentors as well as the great leaders of the business world. These experiences will give you the opportunity to cultivate your own unique leadership style.

Business Administration Skills

The Master of Business Administration is an opportunity to deepen your business administration skill set. Maryland Smith’s Online MBA curriculum features a variety of courses designed to address many of the practical dimensions of business, including finance, marketing, operations, economics and data analysis.

For instance, courses such as Corporate Finance and Managerial Accounting will teach you about the complex financial considerations and responsibilities you may face in a business environment. During courses like Business Communications and Marketing Management, you can learn how to become a more effective and compelling communicator. Courses like Data Analysis and Decision Modeling will introduce you to technologies and data modeling techniques that can inform management decisions.

Specialized Business Skills

Graduate students enrolled in the Smith Online MBA program have the opportunity to choose between several specialized tracks, in addition to the General Track:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information Systems and Business Analytics
  • Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management

Selecting one of these tracks is an opportunity to refine your skills in a critical aspect of modern business. For instance, an MBA student on the Finance track will take advanced courses including Applied Equity Analysis, Financial Restructuring and Commercial Bank Management. These cover theoretical and practical concepts to prepare students for the demands of the financial services sector and higher-level finance roles.

How Does an MBA Help Your Career?

MBA alumni can qualify for an exciting range of business career possibilities that often come with higher salaries. For MBA graduates in the workplace, the advancement opportunities and earning potential can make the time and money spent during school more than worthwhile.

If you’re eager to pursue a career path in business, but you’re still wondering, “Why get an MBA?” the following benefits are worth considering.

You Can Work While You Study

Some working professionals question the return on investment in a traditional full-time, two-year MBA program. After all, two years of tuition costs and two years of reduced wages can make this sort of experience impractical from a financial standpoint.

Fortunately, when you choose the Online MBA program at UMD, you can continue working while you earn your degree. Online learning allows professionals to keep one foot in the working world while simultaneously studying for an advanced business degree. Students can take online classes on a part-time basis and enjoy a flexible school schedule that leaves ample time for working and studying.

With online MBA programs, you don’t need to worry about relocation or spending time commuting to and from campus. Working full-time while attending graduate school is a big commitment, but the ability to stay in the workforce makes it a viable option for many business professionals.

Some Employers Help Pay for MBA Tuition

Some employers committed to professional development will pay for their employees to earn an MBA. A flexible online program means the employee can keep growing in their current role. It never hurts to discuss this possibility with your employer during your application process.

A 2018 Bloomberg report found that 35% of MBA students who continued working with their employer after graduation received at least 75% tuition coverage from that employer. More than half of the surveyed MBA earners employed in the following industries received funding:

  • Government and military (88%)
  • Defense and aerospace (84%)
  • Consulting (72%)
  • Manufacturing (61%)
  • Engineering (57%)

Additionally, at least 40% of MBA holders working in the following industries received funding from their employers:

  • Real estate (47%)
  • Energy (44%)
  • Consumer goods (42%)
  • Health care (41%)
  • Construction (40%)

Not only can this type of arrangement help you cover the costs of your MBA program, but it can also help you become an invaluable resource for your employer. You’ll be able to directly apply what you learn in your coursework to some of the real-world challenges your company faces.

MBA Programs Offer Networking Opportunities

Completing an MBA program can rapidly expand your professional network. For instance, you will have the chance to connect with innovative faculty members, a dynamic MBA alumni community and like-minded peers. In addition, you can attend career fairs, networking engagements and industry events, making new connections along the way.

An MBA Degree Can Open the Door to New Job Opportunities

Whether you advance at your current company or explore new employment opportunities, having an MBA on your resume can help you reach new career heights.

An MBA allows you to apply for many different jobs that require an advanced business degree. Strong business administration skills are essential for most upper-level management positions, and earning an MBA can show potential employers you have what it takes.

Some employers will pay closer attention to applicants with MBA credentials, whereas others will require an MBA for certain higher-level roles. Completing a part-time MBA online while working can also help you qualify for promotions and managerial positions with your existing employer.

But you don’t have to stay in the same field to leverage a graduate business degree. Studying for an MBA can help you change your career path. For instance, if you have been working in manufacturing but you want to transition into marketing, you might enroll in UMD’s Online MBA and choose the Marketing Track. This can help you fill in any skills gaps and demonstrate your experience in this new area. According to The Wall Street Journal, three in four MBA graduates make a career change.

MBA Degree Holders Can Have Increased Earning Potential

One of the most compelling answers to the question, “Why get an MBA?” is that this advanced degree can help you earn a higher salary. Many MBA graduates actually use their business school experience to double their earnings, which can dramatically increase their lifetime earning potential.

The Wall Street Journal reported that MBA graduates earned roughly twice what they had made before entering business school. The median earnings for men increased from $67,000 to $140,000 and, reflecting the gender pay gap, women’s earnings grew from $63,000 to $130,000.

When Should You Get Your MBA?

There is no one right time to get your MBA, since each MBA applicant will have a different background and a unique set of professional and academic goals. However, you will certainly need to complete the GMAT or GRE before you can apply, since these test scores will be part of your application package.

Beyond that, you might consider pursuing an MBA after gaining a little or a lot of experience in the workforce. According to U.S. News & World Report, in 2019:

  • Full-time MBA students had an average of four years and three months of work experience before starting their studies
  • Part-time MBA students worked for an average of six years and 10 months before returning to school
  • Executive MBA students had career histories averaging 13 years and eight months prior to enrollment

It all comes down to looking at where you are in your career now, where you want to be and how an MBA program could work for you, now and in the future.

Investing in Your Future Starts at UMD

The return on investment in an MBA remains high, even as new developments and disruptions have changed the business landscape. Pair this with the fact that universities like UMD are offering flexible online MBA programs that allow students to work while learning, and you can see the enormous value of a modern MBA.

Prospective MBA applicants can learn more about UMD’s Online MBA program by connecting with an enrollment advisor.


Recommended Readings:

UMD Online Master of Business Administration

Habits for Strong Leaders

Going Back to School Guide

MBA vs. CFA: What Should You Get?



Bloomberg, In a Handful of Industries, Companies Still Fund Employee MBAs

Wall Street Journal, Looking to Double Your Salary? Try an MBA

U.S. News & World Report, How Much Work Experience Do I Need for MBA Programs?