Most people choose to do an MBA degree after concerted deliberation and meticulous planning. A full-time MBA at one of the world’s top business schools can cost anywhere between $30,000 and $200,000, depending on the program length and location you opt for.
When proceeding through a checklist of reasons “for” and “against” enrolling in the degree, one encouraging point to consider is the continued buoyancy of the MBA employment market. Between 2015 and 2016, opportunities for graduates around the world grew by 13%.
To help with the “pro” side of your checklist, here are seven of the most common reasons why candidates choose an MBA, based on responses given to the QS Applicant Survey.
- Career acceleration and career change
Most candidates aiming for an MBA apply because they want to improve their career prospects.
The post-MBA career change also appears to be a growing trend. On the premeditated end of the scale, 40% of candidates choose to do an MBA degree because they aim to change the industry they work in, their job function, their location, or a combination of these three.
In cases where the economy or business is disrupted, the MBA qualification can give students greater flexibility by opening them up to more avenues of opportunity.
- The acquisition of new skills
The MBA degree has experienced something of a transformation over the last few decades, as top business schools remold their business management curricula to fine-tune course contents to the evolving demands of both MBA employers and the global economy.
Today’s MBA employers place importance in interpersonal, leadership, strategic thinking and communication skills. For the 59% of applicants who indicated that they want to acquire new skills, it’s comforting to know that the top business schools focus on teaching what’s relevant and what’s in demand. MBA graduates entering today’s workforce are likely to be better equipped as leaders, communicators and business strategists.
- Increasing salary potential and return on investment (MBA ROI)
Students want a return on their investment (MBA ROI), yet, fewer than a third (30%) of QS’s applicant respondents cited an increase in salary as a primary reason for doing an MBA. Calculating the financial side of your MBA ROI isn’t a precise science and does depend on numerous factors, such as the wage forgone when you leave your existing job to study, the cost of the MBA program you finally choose, measured against the salary you will achieve as a graduate.
The large majority of candidates do earn a higher salary post-MBA, according to QS’s 2015 research into MBA ROI.
- Starting your own business
Around 31% of applicants choose the MBA degree because they consider setting up their own business. Many top business schools offer specializations in entrepreneurship, and more institutions seem to be catering to student demand by building innovation hubs and startup labs where experts can support and guide, and peers can brainstorm.
- Top business schools and growing a professional network
Half of applicants aim to build a professional network. It is estimated that as many as 85% of today’s jobs are filled through networking. Most, if not all, business schools promote the sizes of their alumni network and advertise it at as a key selling point on their websites.
- The chance to make a difference within an organization
Some companies and organizations are willing to partly or fully sponsor their employee’s MBA study. Part-time, online and executive MBA program formats all enable students to work and study in parallel. Much of what is learned in a classroom setting can then be immediately applied in the workplace, allowing candidates to make an impact on business operations as early as week one (to the likely approval of senior management).
- The educational value of the MBA qualification and self-development
In QS’s applicant survey, self-development and educational value are the primary motivators for 28% of applicants. An MBA isn’t purely a qualification on paper—it is the entire student experience, the skills and new information learned, the people and faculty met along the way, and knowledge that can offer career leverage in the short term and contribute toward an MBA graduate’s success throughout a lifetime.
View the original version of this article on topmba.com