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Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-18-2006, 11:55 AM   #1
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Is MBA program worth the cost?

I know that soup was looking into the MBA program after a couple of years of management track employment at a multinational corp, so this is a follow up question to him and also to those who have experience in finance/management/consulting.

A MBA from a top program runs some $60,000+ a year.* Does that expenditure of time, effort, funds and lost income result in a quantum leap in opportunity for someone with a math/finance/engineering backround who wants to move in a new direction?
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Re: Is MBA program woth the cost
Old 06-18-2006, 12:06 PM   #2
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Re: Is MBA program woth the cost

I'm about to leave the Corp/finance world. From my experience of watching others get their MBA I would have to say it is not worth the cost if it is coming out of your pocket. If the corporation is paying for it; it may be worth a little but, considering your time I would say not.

I have not seen a benefit to those who got a MBA while working - either in getting a position or career advancement. If it helped; it help when they left to corp they are with for another company - usually a promotion and more money. Then again leaving one company for another results in the same.

Get the book The 24 Hour MBA - it tells you all you need to know.

The best aspect you can work on in the corp is your reputation within the company.
Try to find out what others think of you and improve upon it if you can. If not move to another company.
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-18-2006, 01:16 PM   #3
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

I'll respectfully differ, to a degree (so to speak ).

Getting an MBA does at least three things ... (1) The education itself.* You can get a great business education at a lower tier school as well ... doesn't have to be the creme de la creme.* (2) Gets those letters on your resume ... sometimes (too often) a make-or-break criterion in some job searches.* Lousy to not be considered for the position because you don't have the degree.* (Yes ... recruiters will ignore candidates without the MBA sometimes, because they have a ton of resumes to go through, and their client included that in the job spec.)* And, (3) Contacts you gain in an MBA program can be helpful.* Frankly, never did much for me, and worth more from a top tier school (lockstep programs work better for such contacts, as opposed to the commuter situation I had) ... but you'll hear plenty of stories of people who called their buddy from XYZ University for an "in" on a job, client, investor, etc.

My degree cost much, much less than the number you cite ... state university, part time at first, and full time in the last year.* Employer paid for some, I paid the rest.* Bootstrapped it, as many do.* Tough couple of years, and the last year was a b*tch, but well worth it.* Cemented many business concepts I only breezed through in the undergrad, and it has come in handy year after year on the resume.* As you climb in management, your employer will include it in public resumes / bios of you (on their web site, internal newsletters, etc.) ... companies / employers like to brag about how well educated their team is, when they can.

Lots of people will tell you (as they did me) that you don't need the degree.* Most of those folks will not have an MBA.* And, your mileage will vary, of course.

The degree is not magic ... just another arrow in your quiver, but a handy one.

Best of luck.
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-18-2006, 05:38 PM   #4
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

I couldn't justify going full time. The lost wages were the killer. But going part time while working is pretty attractive at a top school, and it is even better if you aren't paying. But it costs in blood, sweat and tears. Still, it got me where I am today.
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-19-2006, 02:42 PM   #5
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

i say education is EVERYTHING only if you don't have a job or seeking one.

i believe once you got a "decent" job, it;s up to you to become a "mover and shaker", another half a dozen of degree doesn't mean much. i know guys at work have 3 or 4 highly respect degree are still a "nobody". where as other people with bachalor degree become big shot.

conclusion, get an mba if u're looking a job or doing resume building. or if someone else pays for it. don't just do it for the money


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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-19-2006, 05:54 PM   #6
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

I don't believ an MBA is helpful especially if you already have a BS in a field like accounting or finance. From my experience, it does not open up additional opportunities. You can make just as much without an MBA if you are willing to work hard. In the real world, it's not about the advance degree, it's all about how well you play politics and how hard you work. ADJ
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-19-2006, 07:00 PM   #7
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

It truly depends on how you define 'new direction'. I hire accountants / finance / econ professionals to do consulting work (and have hired engineers and mathematicians in the past as well). It truly depends on the type of work and type of employer you plan to work for. An MBA, for example doesn't mean much for an accountant who wants to be a Partner at an Accounting firm doing Tax or Audit work. If the same accountant, however, decides they want to get into risk consulting or general business consulting or even CFO track for a large company, then an MBA is well worth it.

The target employer makes a huge difference as well. Although an MBA will get you 2 additional years of experience than non-MBAs for a government contractor, for example, it might not mean anything to a small growing company hiring you for your actual experience. Large Consulting Firms, like Bain and McKinze, on the other hand, won't even consider you alive unless you got your MBA at a top program.

From a personal perspective, I decided to get an MBA while working. It was an Accelerated MBA program where I basically had no life for 18 months. The cost was cheap then...40k compared to my undergrad at Berkeley (my user name is not a typo - it's actually not named after my undergrad alma mater, but rather our two dogs) of $2k a year! I was a liber arts major - Psychology, looking for the letters to strengthen my resume. It was one of the best investments I've ever made. Yes, my salary multiplied as I progressed in my career and changed jobs, but it wasn't for the letters. It was for the way my thought process changed as a result of my MBA. I can truly now be at the table with the 'big guys' and demonstrate that I understand a lot more about business than the day to day things that go on in the world of Human Resources....

Good luck!
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-19-2006, 09:15 PM   #8
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enuff2Eat
i say education is EVERYTHING only if you don't have a job or seeking one.

i believe once you got a "decent" job, it;s up to you to become a "mover and shaker", another half a dozen of degree doesn't mean much. i know guys at work have 3 or 4 highly respect degree are still a "nobody". where as other people with bachalor degree become big shot.

conclusion, get an mba if u're looking a job or doing resume building. or if someone else pays for it. don't just do it for the money


enuff
I agree with enuff's view. However, given the lack of stability in today's job market, having to change job multiple times is almost a given, so having the degrees do help one move around.

My undegrad and grad degrees are both in engineering, so just doing the MBA courses have helped me see the "big picture". I saw enough of the big picture to realize that my last job was in an industry in decline, so I decided to leave.
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 12:23 AM   #9
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

As others have said, it depends on where you're coming from and on where you want to go.

With a degree in Philosophy and two years' experience in the non-profit world, I was barely paying the rent. Two years in B-School raised my salary by 2.5x, and it's gone up pretty rapidly from there. (Went to a public university which cost a LOT less than $60K a year, though I've heard it's shot up like everything else.)

It DID open doors -- both at the beginning of my career and as I went along. It put me on the short list for desirable jobs, I networked with alumni, and was hired once by a fellow grad.

I think Buns mentioned the main benefit -- flexibility. If you want a change or are forced into making one, it can come in very handy.

As my grandfather used to say about education, "it's no load to carry."







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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 09:04 AM   #10
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Is the cost of law school? What are the metrics? If you use a dollar invested, dollar return measure, who knows? If you want to learn what the educational program has to offer and have a credential to show for it, then maybe. If you just want to learn the material, you can do that yourself for virtually nothing.

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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 09:10 AM   #11
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncledrz
A MBA from a top program runs some $60,000+ a year. Does that expenditure of time, effort, funds and lost income result in a quantum leap in opportunity for someone with a math/finance/engineering backround who wants to move in a new direction?
One thing I have noticed is that the average salaries of MBA grads coming out of top programs can be misleading. If you are already a professional when you go into the MBA program, you may not get a big pay bump. Imagine the typical professional going into the MBA program at a top school. Average of 5-6 years experience, many accounting, managerial or engineering professionals. They are probably already earning the big bucks close to what they will earn when they graduate with the MBA. There are exceptions to the rule that may get a big increase if they go from engineering to management. But on the flipside, someone who is already in engineering management prior to entering the MBA program may not see much of an increase at all. Add in the fact that you'll lose 2 years of earnings, 2 years of on the job experience, and 2 years of pay increases/promotions, and my guess is the "payback period" is decades.



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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 09:17 AM   #12
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

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Originally Posted by setab
Is the cost of law school? What are the metrics? If you use a dollar invested, dollar return measure, who knows? If you want to learn what the educational program has to offer and have a credential to show for it, then maybe. If you just want to learn the material, you can do that yourself for virtually nothing.
Depends on what your alternatives were prior to law school. I know a lot of my law school classmates who came from science/engineering backgrounds probably didn't make much more money after graduating from law school. When you factor in the 3 years of lost earnings, lost promotions, lost raises and lost on the job experience.

Those that did end up making significantly more ended up at BIG LAW FIRM working 60-70 hour weeks (probably 20-30 hours more than their science/engineering positions) for ~1.5-2x the pay.

For my classmates with undergrad degrees in Psychology, communications, and underwater basketweaving, of course it was worth it! They went from $20,000/yr waiting tables or answering phones to $45,000-$100,000/yr at law firms of varying sizes. When they graduated, a lot of them didn't want to practice law and were extremely jealous of my back up plan - go back to engineering practice. They didn't have a back up plan. For them, it was either a life of being broke/marginally successful monetarily, or slave away for the senior partner and earn a very comfortable middle-class income.
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 09:31 AM   #13
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Justin,

You engineers! So analytical; us liberal arts guys just don't think that way. Actually, you make a very good point. I was just trying to point out that you have to know what "worth" you are trying to measure before you can determine whether something is "worth it" or not. I practiced law in private and government settings for more than 30 years, and made a comfortable middle class living as you suggested, but I'm still trying to decide whether the time spent was "worth it" or not.

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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 09:37 AM   #14
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by setab
You engineers! So analytical; us liberal arts guys just don't think that way. Actually, you make a very good point. I was just trying to point out that you have to know what "worth" you are trying to measure before you can determine whether something is "worth it" or not. I practiced law in private and government settings for more than 30 years, and made a comfortable middle class living as you suggested, but I'm still trying to decide whether the time spent was "worth it" or not.
I guess I was referring strictly to money to define "worth". If law/business happens to be your calling and you love it, then there is "worth" in that sense too.

Then there was the occasional social worker who went to law school. Most would say their occupation has intrinsic social value (helping the poor, etc) so there is a third type of "worth".
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 10:07 AM   #15
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

I can't disagree with anything you said.

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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 10:12 AM   #16
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by setab
I can't disagree with anything you said.
You lawyers and your wiley way with words! So you are saying you agree with what I said?
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 10:17 AM   #17
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

I know I am stretching this topic to the limits, but before chosing law school I thought about two different directions to go. One was philosophy. At best, I would end up teaching. I talked a lot with my Logic professor who drove cab for years. Um. Didn't want the employment risk.

The other direction was psychology. I didn't want to teach psychology. Research seemed interesting but generally tied to teaching and begging for money. I didn't want to be a therapist. I didn't believe the science/techniques were there to be effective. I know a MSW counselor. She has had patients die--commit suicide. No thanks.
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 10:29 AM   #18
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Depends on what your alternatives were prior to law school.* I know a lot of my law school classmates who came from science/engineering backgrounds probably didn't make much more money after graduating from law school.* When you factor in the 3 years of lost earnings, lost promotions, lost raises and lost on the job experience.*

Those that did end up making significantly more ended up at BIG LAW FIRM working 60-70 hour weeks (probably 20-30 hours more than their science/engineering positions) for ~1.5-2x the pay.*
Justin has hit the nail on the head. *I was an engineer for eight years prior to law school. *I recently calculated the economic return on my decision to go to law school, including the savings I used to pay tuition and the loss of income for three years. *The result -- it took me at least 11 years after law school to break even economically.

There are certainly non-monetary factors at work here. *I enjoyed attending law school and I have enjoyed the practice of law. *However, I also enjoyed life as an engineer, when the hours were shorter and the stress lower. *All things considered, I probably would make the same decision again.

I suspect that the calculus is the same for business school. *If you were already an established professional, the decision to go back to school may not pay off in pure economic terms. *But you need to consider the psychic returns as well. *If you truly believe that going to business school and having the MBA degree will enhance your life, then you should do it. *Reducing everything to dollars and cents leads to a poorer life overall.

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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 10:52 AM   #19
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

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Originally Posted by Gumby
Justin has hit the nail on the head. I was an engineer for eight years prior to law school. I recently calculated the economic return on my decision to go to law school, including the savings I used to pay tuition and the loss of income for three years. The result -- it took me at least 11 years after law school to break even economically.
Each person's experience with law practice is unique I'm sure, but my guess is that the 11 year break even period doesn't reflect the longer hours. If you were somehow magically able to work longer hours in engineering and get paid overtime for all your effort, the payback period would probably be extended much more!

For those looking to ER after a 20-25 year career, it would be hard to justify a mid-career jump from, say, engineering to law (focusing solely on money and not psychic rewards, if any, of practicing law).
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?
Old 06-20-2006, 10:59 AM   #20
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Re: Is MBA program worth the cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby
However, I also enjoyed life as an engineer, when the hours were shorter and the stress lower. *All things considered, I probably would make the same decision again.
Don't forget the sub pay and the great movies, too!

I relieved an O-4 at a training command who retired (TERA), returned the next day to the same building as a contractor (he did a fine job), and attended law school at night.* He kept this up for nearly three years.* The downside was that he was frequently working 16-18 hour days and some days his adolescent kid was going from school to after-school to a baby-sitter without seeing him for more than breakfast.* He saw his workload as his ticket out from a life of technical & contracting hell and he seems to be doing just fine.

He certainly amassed a fine collection of lawyer jokes & Looney-Tunes ties.* I think he's practicing law in Texas now.*

I think the law school payback was much higher than anything else he would have gotten into... like an O-5 of similar background who retired after 26 years' service to monitor the midwatch production line on a local computer-monitor company-- all because he thought it'd be a great ticket to future promotions.
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