You’ve probably heard that an advanced business degree delivers more professional opportunities, higher earning potential, and even prestige.
What business students don’t mention is that the right school can also build your trade skills, expand your network, and make you a better manager. Regardless of your specialization, an MBA can help you climb almost any career ladder — but your success begins with the program you choose.
A traditional, full-time MBA divides core curriculum and specialized courses over one or two years, along with a break for internships. With so many program options, the traditional MBA can benefit students with specific professional goals or people with less-defined career paths. Keep in mind that you may need to spend two years away from your current job, even if you plan to pursue a new field after graduation.
Executive MBAs also span over two years, but students continue working and often receive company funding for school. While students traditionally enter the program with roughly four years of work experience, executive MBA candidates have worked in their fields for a decade or more. EMBAs rarely offer career services, since employers sponsor students.
Like the executive MBA, this degree allows students to work full-time. These programs appeal to a range of experience levels and offer similar amenities to traditional MBAs, but students may have a difficult time balancing school with other obligations.
Students that thrive in a self-study environment should consider online programs. These degrees offer more financial and geographic flexibility, as well as more scheduling options. However, online degrees may not offer as many student services as programs on a physical campus, and some employers may not favor them.
More schools now offer subject-specific business degrees in areas such as finance or management. These degrees can take 12 months or less to earn. Depending on the program, you may not even need full-time work experience. Students looking for specialized jobs may benefit more from a program tailored to their topic of interest, though they may not carry as much weight as an MBA.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (
Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. ( )
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You can’t earn an advanced business degree on a whim; many factors will influence your commitment to a program. Consider how another degree can advance your career, whether you can afford the costs, and how much it will foster personal growth. Rushing into more school without a clear purpose wastes time and money, and may not deliver any benefits.
Continued education in business could get you a bigger paycheck, better management skills, and more knowledge about your trade — but only if you find the right program at the right time. Weigh your options carefully before investing in a new degree, and choose the one that fits you.