When it comes time to plan out your career, the question of obtaining further education is something that always needs to be considered. Master's degrees are often the go-to choice for those returning to school to advance their careers, and among master's degrees, the Master's of Business Administration, or MBA, is one of the most popular choices out there. But just why is it that MBAs are such a common choice, and what exactly can you do with one once you've earned it?
Basic Reasons to Get an MBA
The purpose of an MBA is simple. Students should pick up skills that are critical in business, particularly as their careers progress, such as leadership, management, and budgeting. MBAs are an excellent choice for those who are already performing well in their role, and wish to demonstrate their ambition and dedication by pursuing the skills needed to take on further responsibilities. Team, project, and especially departmental leader positions are more likely to go to those with master's degrees, assuming all other factors are equal, and that includes the higher salary that managers receive. An MBA can also be used to adjust one's skill set to better align with his or her developing interests. For example, an individual who finds a passion for marketing could pursue an MBA with a concentration in marketing, allowing them to both develop new skills in this area of interest and receive the management and leadership training that sets them up for further success in the future. MBA programs typically offer a wide variety of concentrations, from common choices like accounting and finance to more exotic options like cryptocurrencies and digital media, making the degree a good way to facilitate a career change as well.
An MBA Creates Career Options
While some people have a dream job firmly in mind before they've even applied to colleges, for many that's just not the case, and others may find that their desired industry isn't quite how they imagined it. It's true that just having a bachelor's degree can be beneficial, even if it's not relevant to your current field of work, but a relevant education is always going to be better if possible. Master's degrees help to tailor a worker's skills and knowledge towards their particular field, especially when it comes to those degrees which favor applicants with work experience. Enter the MBA, possibly the most flexible and career-advancing degree option around. Other graduate degrees may require experience in a specific industry, or a related bachelor's degree, making them fairly exclusive to those who've already found their calling, and some are even designed for those fresh from their undergraduate studies. MBA programs, in contrast, are more open and available; applicants for these programs can have just about any bachelor's degree you can imagine, as the degree provides supplemental skills that are applicable to most industries. Even those who already hold a business degree can benefit from the additional training and in-depth studies of an MBA.
Some MBA Programs Are Extremely Flexible
Some MBA programs also have the advantage of being designed for working professionals in particular—these programs are carefully crafted to provide the skills needed to succeed in the later stages of a career. Schools also shape these programs to be easily available in a variety of formats, from traditional full-time study to part-time to accelerated and online degrees, making them obtainable without having to place your career on the back burner.
MBA Programs Often Pair Well with Other Degrees
MBAs also have a synergistic effect with many other degrees. A student who majored in the arts in their undergraduate studies could go on to obtain an MBA later, providing them with the knowledge of business needed to help their artistic endeavors find an audience. An author, for instance, is often responsible for his or her own marketing and promotion these days, even when signed to a major publisher, so the knowledge of marketing, budgeting, and other business concerns picked up over the course of an MBA program can be quite valuable. A doctor who obtains an MBA would be well equipped to start his own private practice, rather than working in a hospital or clinic. Even degrees in areas like social work can mesh well with the MBA, as non-profits and charities are still often run like a business, and require advertising and promotion to function.
MBA Programs for Entrepreneurship
Many people think of MBA graduates as the opposite of entrepreneurs. They imagine the MBA graduate as a risk averse person who has invested time and energy in a degree that provides a signal to potential employers that they would be good hires. The envision an MBA as having the skills and knowledge to function well within the corporate world, doing things the way they are typically already done.
In fact, if you want to start a business of your own, MBA programs are still one of the best ways to prepare. Entrepreneurship is a very common specialization option, teaching students everything you'll need to run a business, from developing business plans and finding investors to managing both money and people. Business schools also tend to be a fantastic place to network—everyone else in an MBA program is an established professional with various skill sets, and they've proven they have the drive to reach higher simply by enrolling. Bringing in local, regional, and even nationally successful businessmen to give talks and engage with students is common among MBA programs as well, allowing the opportunity to tap the wealth of experience these professionals have acquired. Some may even be able to set students up with internships at these companies, which could result in permanent positions for those who impress, and can act as a valuable entry on your resume even if that isn't in the cards. Here are some of the best MBAs for entrepreneurship.
There are many reasons to get an MBA. The key is to determine why you are considering one, weigh the pros and cons, and perform a financial assessment to ensure you are comfortable with the potential return on investment. After all, many top MBA programs are very expensive, to the tune of over $120,000. That said, you can find some very good programs, such as the MBA program at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, with more modest tuition levels.
As it turns out, MBAs are the most common variety of master's degree for a reason. They teach valuable skills needed to succeed at the highest levels of business, and demonstrate both competency and ambition. Programs are flexible enough to enhance an existing career in a field or help with a career change, and are often made available in a variety of formats that can fit any lifestyle. That flexibility goes a step further when it comes to interacting with prior education, providing the business sense that's necessary in the world of commerce to those whose interests primarily lie elsewhere. And, as the name Master's of Business Administration implies, the degree can set students up with everything they'll need to know to run a business of their own, and offer them the chance to make valuable contacts that can facilitate running a business in the process. No matter what direction you're looking to move your career in, there's an MBA program out there which can help you to do just that.