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Sharon Reed AbboudShould You Consider an MBA?

By Sharon Reed Abboud

The Master of Business Administration (the MBA) has long been seen as the “magic ticket” for career advancement, but should you consider an MBA despite the lengthy time commitment and potentially high cost?

“There is no doubt that the knowledge and skills acquired in a good MBA program gives the graduate a boost into leadership positions,” said Paul Danos, Dean of Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth University. “We did a survey of Tuck graduates and found that nearly 70 percent of Tuck alumni were in positions of leadership in the organization, that is, CEO, Chairman, Partner, Owner, CFO, etc.” According to Danos, Tuck students often more than double their salaries.

Bill Brady, director of Graduate Career Management, the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, agrees. MBA’s are “like bachelor’s degrees in the 90’s,” said Brady, and since MBAs are becoming available by so many resources, “it is more common to expect managers to have the degree.”

MBA benefits abound. Mindy Storrie, president, MBA Career Services Council and director of MBA Career Services at Kenan-Flagler Business School, the University of North Carolina, adds, “The rewards are immense for a mid-career MBA student. An MBA can be one of the best ways to increase your business knowledge base.”

According to Brady, there are two reasons for obtaining an MBA: first, to obtain advanced skills to “provide a power boost to an individual’s career” and second, to change careers, for example, from retail sales to finance.

According to a 2004 survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the majority of the MBA class that graduated in 2004 (54 percent) were using their MBA as a way of changing career tracks. The survey showed that that the average graduate made roughly $56,500 before earning the degree and about $76,000 afterward. GMAC surveyed 6,223 MBA graduates from 128 business schools in 16 countries. Twenty-one percent of the respondents were from outside the United States.

“We have long referred to the MBA as a global currency - a degree that symbolizes value all over the world. To many people, that value comes in the form of career mobility,” said David A. Wilson, president of GMAC.

Daniel R. Nagy, Associate Dean of the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, said that an MBA can aid in a person’s career advancement because “if you start at a higher level post MBA in a career path with clear promotional levels (e.g. brand management, consulting, I-banking, etc.) than you will certainly move quickly through the first several levels of management.” But, “after that careers move at one’s competency level,” Nagy added.

Brady agrees. “Simply getting an MBA is not sufficient to make me successful,” he said, “It gives a knowledge advantage only if that advantage can be effectively applied.”

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