Is an MBA still useful? We see this question being asked increasingly often and with a growing sense of urgency:
- The Wall Street Journal reports that even elite MBA programs are seeing a steep drop in applications, including double-digit declines in blue-ribbon programs such as Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
- Recent op/ed titles point to growing anxiety around the value of an MBA, with a Washington Post piece asking if an MBA is worth the leap and a Wall Street Journal title asking if an MBA is still worth it.
- As they struggle to attract students, more universities are shutting down traditional MBA programs, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, even as more-specialized programs such as a master’s in data analytics have flourished.
These trends point to growing uncertainty around the core value proposition of an MBA. What can business schools do to reset the narrative? Burning Glass Technologies data point to three core areas of emphasis:
1. MBA’s unlock value within careers. Are you a General Manager looking to take your paycheck to the next level? Our salary data show that an MBA will unlock a 61% salary premium. In fact, earning an MBA is a high-impact way to increase salaries across a range of roles:
2. The MBA is the ticket to moving up to better roles. How does an Operations Analyst become an Operations Manager? Mastering the business foundational skills that are core to the MBA curriculum can take you to the next level. Making the transition to a managerial role often comes with a major raise, to boot:
3. Beyond the degree itself, MBA skills carry market premiums across a wide range of careers. In addition to the significant value laid out above that the MBA itself delivers, it’s important as well to remember that the MBA signifies mastery of a set of skills – and those skills are highly sought after. Skills like project management, business analysis, budgeting, and leadership all command significant salary premiums well outside the business domain as more and more talent pools need to be able to tackle business problems. As you can see below, even in highly technical fields, those who have MBA skills get ahead:
Contrary to the emerging narrative, the challenges tomorrow’s business leaders will face do not make an MBA obsolete. Rather, MBA’s remain a highly effective way to advance within roles, climb up the career ladder to new roles, and to take on leadership for solving business problems across domains. The opportunity for business schools is to take a data-driven approach to making the case, presenting concrete evidence of how an MBA opens doors and unlocks career value.
To learn more on how to review your MBA program to be better aligned with the labor market, contact us today!