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May 10, 2010


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Unless it's an Ivy League I would never consider paying that much for an MBA. If you company offers reimbursement for your degree then I would pursue it. I would speak to your HR representative to see if this is a requirement to advance and if not see if they could help you map out a career path.

You could also consider going to a school that is not see expensive. 100K is way on the high end for schooling and there are plenty of reputable, well regarded business schools that cost half as much.

While my MBA has landed me nice friends, it has not helped me further my career and is responsible for half of my debt a decade of payments. Please think long and hard before your invest a significant amount of money into something that you may never use.

If you can get into a top 10 program, pay whatever it costs. If not, go with a program that has a name (state school) but is a good value.

And only go if you know it will pay off. Many get an MBA for weak reasons and without fully thinking it through. This may be shocking to some, but having MBA on the resume is not always a advantageous bullet.

Considering you have an engineering degree, it will likely be a powerful bullet to your resume. If you wanted to go a specific route, getting a MS in Finance, etc is another good route.

He should read the 4-Hour Work Week then decide. He may learn that his reward for spending thousands taking more classes to obtain "higher level management positions" will be that he will get to work longer hours managing more problems for more money. Does he really want to trade his precious free time for more problems and more money, still working for the man? That is precisely what an MBA program prepares you to do.

You will most not likely see an ROI on the pricier programs. Secondly, why don't you check with your employer about tuition reimbursement.

My advice - it sounds like your ultimate goal is to get into a senior management level position. I presume that means with your company (or a comparable company). I would do your homework on a couple of fronts. One, I would like into what schools the senior management of your current company (and those other companies) got their MBA's from. And two, any MBA school that you are considering should publish a great deal of information on what companies hire their MBA's. I would look closely at those data as well and decide if a very expensive $100k MBA is needed for what you want or if a $30k MBA would do.

I can tell you, as an MBA myself who has worked post-MBA for nine years now, perhaps the greatest benefit for someone who has been in the workforce a while from the MBA is the networking. But seriously, don't underestimate how valuable that is. After all, it doesn't matter how skilled you are at what you do if you don't get in touch with the right people to put you in the right place for the right opportunity.

You said:

"considering that a few of my friends who attended are still in their current jobs with no increase in money"

Cheapskate said:

"While my MBA has landed me nice friends, it has not helped me further my career and is responsible for half of my debt a decade of payments."

I would be real sure this was worth doing at all. There may be some very valid reasons for getting an MBA 12-15 years into a career. But I think too often it is just assumed that it is always a positive, but I suspect it needs to be for a targeted purpose or else the risk of it being wasted is probably pretty high.

Do what you can to verify if this is truly worth it.

Having earned an MBA and worked three years post-graduation, I have not seen any significant increase in earnings and no increase in work responsibility or position title. The attrition among MBAs in my company is fairly high, as they are not rewarded for it. Having earned a business-based Bachelor's before my MBA, my first year of MBA curriculum was largely repetitive and useless. Looking back on the lack of benefits upon graduation and the 80 hour weeks over the 2+ years I was in the program, I would encourage folks NOT to get an MBA. Earn a more focused professional certification (CPIM, PMP, MCSE, etc), join a professional organization for networking, or earn a degree you're genuinely interested in, but don't waste your time and money on an MBA that is filled with theory, has equally general and useless application and will likely offer only marginal monetary benefits. I especially encourage you to check out what graduates from any program are making on average. If it's less than you're making, don't do it. The ROI isn't there.

Wow - this was very valuable for me. I actually just made a decision that probably saved me tons of money and time. I decided just now NOT to get my MBA... I already have 3 Bach degrees (IT + Business) -- I make 6 figures and could retire in my 30s... My the hell did I even consider getting the MBA unless I wanted to be a CEO? Hmmmm - maybe we like the academic status symbol or somthing... I don't know.... Thanks guys! Why don't I just keep doing what I am doing that works (btw if anyone cares):

Spend 1k a year on software, books, training to better myself
Work hard
Communicate well (and practice often)

I am only 24 and I work with a lot of MBAs that make less than me just for anyone else if they are wondering if it might be worth it. I almost made a mistake I believe... There are situations where it makes sense - not in mine - and I feel not in many others.

I think a lot of it has to do with where you are located and where you want to be in the future. I'm in the midwest, and while you are expected to get an MBA from one of the few accredited schools, they typically don't expect a $100K Ivy shcool. Prices for the 4-5 schools worth going to in my area range from $40-60K. If you get an MBA from a school out of this select few, and it is not a recognizeable name, it will be dismissed as not valid.

The school I'm currently attending is a well respected private school that is accredited. It is viewed highly among my geographic area and chosen field. Total price is almost $50K (work pays the majority). If I were to move to a different part of the country, I don't think it would have as much clout.

I would not get an MBA with the sole vision that you are going to earn more money. I'm taking classes that focus on entrepreneurship, which is what interests me. Take on as little debt as possible. I wouldn't even consider a $100K MBA for my situation. The exception would be getting accepted to a top 10 Ivy league. The key would be your willingness to leverage the benefit this type of elite school can offer. Meaning, are you willing to move around the country and take opportunities? I'm married with kids living in a good community, my career ambitions are limited based on how it will affect my family.

Lots to think about, but please don't blindly assume an MBA is worth it, and do whatever it takes to do it with as little debt as possible.

I think an MBA is just the basic level req for many exec positions (at least in marketing at Fortune 500s; not sure about other departments, but assume its similar) so it might not give you and edge over others, but without it you probably won't have a shot at certain positions.

Getting an MBA was one of the best moves I made. I received mine from a top-20 school, and was a public university in-state for me at that time (no longer live there), so my tuitiion was low. What a great deal that was, going full-time for a high quality business education.

That said, my take is that if you can get an MBA from a top tier school - specifically, a top-10 type of program, it will be worth it in the long run.

DO NOT look at this myopically, thinking just in terms of starting salaries. Sure, that's most important, but if you plan a career in business - whether corporate, consulting, on your own, etc - I think you'll benefit from the experience and the network you will acquire.

If you can't get into a top-10 program, then I think it dependes on your finances. If you can still manage a top-25 program, I recommend it, but if you can get an employer to help foot the bill for a part-time MBA at a very well respected program, that would be better. I know people that have received MBAs from Top-10 programs that didn't pay a dime of their own money, though they had to work full time and go through 3 or more grueling years of being a student as well.

Again, being in your mid-30's, its different than being in your 20's as most full-time MBA students are. If your employer will pay, go for it.

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all your advice. A couple of thoughts that comes to mind after your comments. Please let me know if your advice is still the same

1) I am on the west-coast, the $100k MBA programs I am considering are in the top-10/15 rankings.
2) There is little-to-none sponsorship from my employer. However, I have practically no-debt with 8 months of expenses stashed in emergency funds.
3) Relocation is not a prob for the right opportunity.
4) Also, international recognition is a major-plus.

What about Thunderbird?

What about a MS in your engineering discipline?

"If you can get into a top 10 program, pay whatever it costs."

It's not as much cut and dry. I chose Kelley (a fairly good state MBA) over Booth/Kelloggs. I had the GMAT and Entreprenuship background to get accepted in most schools.

1. It costs muuuch more to go to these private schools
2. In the last 3-4 years good paying jobs from these schools have declined (I know 3 Booth guys who graduated in 2007, who really struggled).

I haven't been terribly impressed by MBAs in my career, or people who hang their credentials on one. I am impressed by those who write well. Clear writing exposes clear thinking. Clear thinking leads to good decisions. Good decisions lead to problem-solving, things being completed on time, and profits.

I second reading the Four Hour Work Week above. I am a big believer in Tim Ferriss' approach and am trying to apply it everywhere I can. If you have 15 years you are willing to spend on the corporate ladder, then maybe a top-flight MBA from a name school will pay you back after you put the crushing debt load to bed.

Otherwise, if you want management experience, don't ask for permission. Find a need in your organization where you can lead an effort and demonstrate value, and simply begin working on the project. Engage others, get them excited, and offer them ways to be involved. When they struggle with the time to contribute, offer them support with your time and skill. Cross-train people on your skills.

Once you have led enough of these mini-efforts, even without direct reports, the more likely you will be seen as management material. There, I just saved you a few years and $60,000.

Don't waste your time on any type of Master's degree. It's simply not going to pay you back.

If you are in SoCal, you can always go to USC and get a Master of Science in Engineering Management.

^^^ what? ^^^

I would suggest focusing on on programs that offer on-campus recruiting for the top companies you're most interested in. Let's say for exmple that you're interested in working for Google. Well, Google doesn't come to every school, but they do recruit at Stanford, USC, UCLA, etc.. so I would focus on those programs. The education is somewhat similar across programs, but not all companies recruit at every school.

I graduated from my MBA program last week and if I had to look back on factors that I weighed in making my decision, the on-campus recruiting piece would make up 80% of my decision.

Keep the information coming guys! This is very helpful to those of that are considering or have considered getting an MBA. I have loved the responses - very informative.

Who else has received an MBA and thought it was worth the (opportunity) cost (financial, time with family, time for yourself etc.)???

I'm a strong proponent of the part-time programs if you are in a company which pays for part of it. Mine did ~5500 a year, which ended up being 1 trimester per year and 1/3 of the total. 4-hours a week while you are working full-time isn't much sacrifice. It may take 3.5 to 4 years, but it will help build a strong network, give you time to apply what you learn, and open up doors after school. I was targetting rotation programs in Financial Services. As for family time, I entered with a gf and graduated with a wife and 2 kids. Talk about busy.
good luck

I also graduated last week with an MBA. Feels good to be done. I felt the potential opportunity post-mba was worth the effort- We will see if that is the case. I would not have done this if it were not for my company and tuition assistance. For that reason, I was limited to my program choices that would allow me to keep working. Additionally, my location is rather rural so a distance program was ideal. I chose a state school with a good reputation and accredited program. The program wildly exceeded my expectations- now we will see if the hard work will pay off.

I do have a MS in engineering as well. I am not sure I would go that route again. It gave me more confidence in my role which did lead to advancement; however, one can have this same confidence without an MS.

I'm and IT Director making a great salary and I never finished my college. I worked my way up by pursing "life long learning" / personal MBA kinda of program. It was very affordable and loves me! Put the $1000 in to buying books and the other $99999 into the stock market, your RIO will beat any MBA program.

The decision to pursue an MBA should not be based on a short term result - i.e. salaries. The pursuit should be viewed as a long term investment in oneself - an investment that no one can ever take away under any circumstances including tough economic times. That investment will have a return without a doubt. Whether it is positive or negative is up to the individual. The pursuit of the MBA is a way to put plans into place for future potential. The real work begins after the degree is earned. Too many times, MBA's get out of school with a sense of entitlement expecting things to happen and don't work hard coming out of school. Then, they feel that the MBA was worthless. Turns out that they're the only ones to blame as they are the ones that are worthless not the degree...

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