Is an MBA Right for Me?

For success-minded professionals who are a few years into their business careers and looking to accelerate their career trajectory, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) may be the next logical step, helping natural leaders hone their management and communication skills.

Here’s a look at questions to consider before applying to business schools.

  • Why do I want an MBA? An MBA may not be the answer if you are simply unhappy with your job or feel that everyone has one or want to quickly boost your earning power. Business school canboost your salary, but it will take a few years of hard work. It’s not a quick fix. On the other hand, if you’ve been working for several years and feel that you’ve plateaued, an MBA could help prepare you for a higher-level position and make you a more valuable asset to prospective employers (or your current company). In an article for CIO magazine, Thomas MacKay asserts that business school teaches you to polish your written communication skills, solve business problems and manage business processes.
  • What do I plan to do after I earn my MBA? What is the job outlook in that field? MBA professors are big on return on investment (ROI), and business students should consider the ROI of an MBA before they apply to programs. Your career goals may change during your MBA as you explore new areas of business, but think about your current career goals. How will an MBA support those goals? Will it add value in your current job? The skills learned from an MBA program will assist in a wide variety of jobs, but a business degree is most often applied to business, whether through entrepreneurship, consulting, finance or running a nonprofit.To learn more about your intended field and role, consider doing informational interviews with professionals currently doing that work. Do they have an MBA? At what point in their career did they attend business school? Do they see demand in the field increasing or remaining steady over the next few years?
  • Can I fit an MBA into my life right now? For many people, giving up a full-time job and moving to another part of the country to pursue an MBA just isn’t practical. They may have a family to support or a spouse who’s reluctant to start over in a new city. For many busy professionals, a low-residency or online MBA program may offer more flexibility than a traditional full-time program, allowing them to continue working and tending to other obligations while earning an MBA. Be sure to explore all your options before you assume that you can’t make time for business school. Many programs are designed for working professionals to remove some of the typical barriers such as having to quit a job and relocate to earn an MBA.

Reflecting on these questions will not only help you get clarity on your decision to pursue an MBA, but it will also help you write a well-reasoned admissions essay and respond to questions during the interview process. Doing your homework before you start business school helps ensure that you’re attending the right program—and for the right reasons, too.