Value of a Graduate Business Education
By Diane Schwemm and Evanne Montoya
Could a Master in Business Administration (MBA) or Specialized Master’s degree be a good move for your son or daughter? Whether your student plans to dive into a Specialized Master’s program right after college graduation or work for a few years with an MBA as a possible next step, you may have questions — especially if you don’t have a business background yourself.
We’ve compiled key information about real outcomes for business school graduates as well as insights and advice from seasoned parents who have mentored their students along this path. Read on!
Opens doors to a variety of career paths
An MBA is an internationally-recognized degree that prepares graduates for management and leadership roles in finance, consulting, and the corporate world as well as in government, tech, the non-profit sector, the arts, science, health care and more. Janienne of Darien, Connecticut believes the flexibility and versatility of an MBA offers something valuable for her daughter, Kate. Kate, who has a strong undergraduate business background, isn’t sure if she wants to stay in her current position as Buyer at Bloomingdale’s or if she’d rather take her talents in a new direction. She has her eye on an MBA and has already taken the GMAT® (Graduate Management Admission Test®) to get ready to apply.
Most students enter MBA programs after a few years of work experience. Students who want to go immediately to graduate school after college often apply to Specialized Master’s programs where they can focus on highly marketable areas such as Human Resources, Public Health, Marketing and Consumer Studies, Real Estate Development, and Information Technology. Because of the wide variety of Specialized Master’s programs available, your student can likely find one that fits most career aspirations.
Not just for traditional business fields!
An MBA is still the choice of many young people working in finance and consulting. But an MBA or Specialized Masters can work just as well for someone working in retail or sports management, or who wants to work for a non-profit or in the public sector. Humanities majors go to business school, as do engineers and scientists. “Business schools provide strengths in areas of strategy and management” that can be applied to almost any industry, observed Neil, a parent who works in corporate finance in Washington, DC. “It’s a very flexible degree.”
Janienne added that business school would give her daughter “new ideas and options. She will meet new people, get exposed to other career possibilities, and maybe shoot off in an entirely new direction. She’ll find herself.”
Strong return on investment
When successful young adults have been working for a few years, they need to be sure they are going to get their money’s worth and more by taking time out to attend graduate school. An MBA “is absolutely still a valuable degree,” said Tammy, a college parent and Tuck School of Business alum from Connecticut. She and others referred to the “big picture” an MBA provides, and “flexibility so you can adapt to lots of different situations, which today is more important than ever.”
In fact, employment opportunity data suggests employers continue to value this kind of degree. From 2013–14 to 2014–15, the number of job opportunities increased the most for graduates with MBAs, rising 38 percent according to a study from Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute (compared to a 20 percent rise for PhDs and 16 percent for bachelor’s degrees).
Along with improving employment prospects, earning an MBA can be the key to higher pay levels in many careers. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®) 2015 survey of corporate recruiters, the 2015 median starting salary for new business school graduates is $100,000 — $45,000 higher than what the surveyed employers expect to pay candidates with bachelor’s degrees.
B-school graduates also rise faster and go farther. Within five years, the majority of MBAs are in senior management positions or higher, according to a 2015 GMAC® survey of Graduate School Alumni. “My son saw his graduate business studies as a clear means of progressing to C Suite,” Jack K. said.
Opportunities to network
Even if your son or daughter has already launched a career, improving their connections can be worth the time and effort of an MBA or Specialized Master’s. Many business schools are renowned for their tight alumni networks; business school can be a chance to be surrounded by top-flight classmates and faculty. “My son figured out on his own that it’s important to immerse in community at business school,” Jack K. said. “Those people are going to be personal and professional associates.”
Wendy agreed that what can make the MBA worthwhile is the “concentrated influx of knowledge and connections.”
Is your student intrigued by the possibilities of a graduate business degree? Learn more about next steps on this site, created just for you and your undergrad. Make sure to check back for articles coming soon about the parent’s role in the business school decision plus tips on financing the degree.
Meet our parent contributors:
- Neil is a consultant with decades of Wall Street experience. Though he didn’t go to business school himself, he couldn’t be happier that his son Cam seems to be heading in that direction.
- Wendy has an MBA from Harvard and four sons in their twenties: “Business school has crossed all their minds in varying degrees!”
- Tammy lives in Darien, Connecticut. She met her husband when they were both getting MBAs at the Tuck School of Business. Their college son — a biology major — recently attended a summer bridge program at Tuck.
- Jack K. and his wife have five young adult children — two in college and three out. His eldest has an MBA and Jack wouldn’t be surprised if one of the younger siblings follows suit.
- Janienne lives in Connecticut, within easy range of her son and daughter who both work in New York City. Her daughter Kate recently took the GMAT and is gearing up to apply to graduate business programs.