Working in the financial sector for the better part of a decade means I share my floor with many MBA graduates. In these uncertain times for Lebanon, with skyrocketing unemployment and bleak economic outlook, many of you might be thinking if continuing your education abroad might be a wise choice for you.
The short answer is, MBA degrees do help your CV stand out for potential employees, and will undoubtedly give you a salary bump. For example, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) says fresh MBA graduates start with salaries of around 105,000 USD this year. It also helps graduates join global alumni networks, solidifying their mastery of business fundamentals and helping them get promotions within the companies they work at.
Despite the obvious benefits of getting an MBA, the high cost of getting one is often a challenge for most prospective students. An MBA can cost up to 200,000 USD at schools like Harvard, MIT Sloan and Stanford, some of the most sought-after MBA programs across the globe. So, even if an MBA might help a person’s career, securing financing for it often complicates this decision, given that most students will not be earning a salary while they pursue their MBA.
One solution is to focus on getting a MBA in places other than the US, securing scholarships and finding institutions that offer financial aid or allow you to keep your job as you complete your program. Another is to look on the long-term return on investment. A study based on 235 full-time MBA programs by QS International found out that over a 10-year period, the ROI was up to 390,000 USD. In other words, students can repay the cost of their MBA in little over 4 years after they get the salary raise once they finish their program. Keep in mind, that varies greatly between different regions of the world, but on average, MBA graduates were able to pay off their tuition in under 5 years. Compare that to the average time it would take medical students to pay off their tuition, and the ROI starts to make sense.
Another factor to consider is the duration of different MBA programs. One example is the 2-year MBA at Stanford University in California, where graduates earn about 140,000 USD after graduating. Another program at IMD in Switzerland, needs just 1 year to complete, and graduates usually get around 120,000 USD a year. So, even though the IMD option might earn you less, you only have to give up a salary for half the time needed to complete your MBA at Stanford. Staying out of the job market for two years can also mean missing out on more, which is why in recent years one-year MBA programs have become more popular than two-year options.
That doesn’t mean that two-year options are necessarily the wrong choice for you. The Financial Times found out that scholarships tend to cover two-year MBA programs, and not their one-year counterparts.
If you’re confused, I don’t blame you. It’s quite a tall task to decide the best option for your MBA. That’s without us even comparing MBA programs with Master’s degrees too, that are far more specialized in certain fields. MBA programs are more generic and all-encompassing, leaving more options available to prospective graduates. If you’re sure of where you want your career to go, then maybe a Master’s degree might be better for you, giving you an edge in the specific field you are interested in, and giving you an edge over standard MBA grads.
To help you figure it out, I suggest you book your spot at QS International’s MBA and Grad Tour in Beirut this September 24 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Admissions directors and alumni from INSEAD, LBS, Toronto-Rotman, Arizona State — W.P Carey, IE, Warwick, Manchester, Durham, Curtin, CKGSB and many more will be there to help make their case so you can better decide if you want to continue your education, and if so, where and when to do it. You’ll also be able to attend a workshop with LinkedIn, get headshots with a professional photographer and attend informative discussion panels about the admissions process and the value of an MBA.
Sign up [here].