Do I Need an MBA if I Majored in Business?

If you studied business for your undergraduate degree, how much will an MBA benefit you?

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If you were a business major in college, you might be considering going back to school to earn your MBA degree.

It’s a natural transition and one many people consider after several years in the workforce. But what are the benefits of an MBA for someone who already has an educational background in business? Is an MBA worth it?

Salary Benefits of an MBA

First, it is a pretty safe assumption that you’ll command a higher starting salary once you’ve earned an MBA. The Graduate Management Admissions Council, in a recent survey of MBA graduates, reported that MBA graduates who remain with their current company expect a 39% increase in salary.

In general, MBA grads will have several years of work experience under their belts – along with the increased knowledge that comes with graduate study. Employers recognize this: For example, the average starting salary for an undergraduate with a business degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business is $50,558. MBA graduates, on the other hand, make an average of $92,312.

Networking Opportunities in MBA Programs

In addition to higher salaries, business school offers unique networking opportunities as compared with undergraduate program in business. In business school, you’ll be in a small group of like-minded individuals all focused intently on their future careers.

It’s often said that the connections made in business school are almost worth the price of tuition. You’ll also most likely do a summer internship in an area of interest – which will allow you to focus your relationship building efforts in a more directed way.

Business Education at the MBA Level vs. Undergraduate Business Education

The quality of business education varies greatly among institutions. Some schools may offer extremely focused undergraduate business education, producing graduates ready for the business world. Whereas others may offer more general training that requires graduates to “fill in” what is needed for real-world success.

Attending an undergraduate college with an associated business school, more common at larger universities, may be an advantage for some students who can take graduate-level business courses while they’re still in college.

Two aspects of MBA programs may prove to be the differentiating factors between graduate school and undergraduate business education: Focus and Timeliness.

Simply put, not all undergraduates are focused enough on their future careers, or even have the knowledge, to direct their educations appropriately. A majority of students who enter business school have a fairly strong idea about their career focus. This allows them to take the courses that provide them the strongest training to match their future goals. MBA programs offer many areas of concentration including entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, consumer products, health care, technology and others.

The other aspect of a graduate business school program that provides a true advantage for MBA holders is the timeliness and relevance of the coursework. In MBA programs, current business leaders often visit classrooms; case studies are drawn from recent business news; and the latest theories and practices are taught. Depending on how long ago you earned your undergraduate business degree, many things may have changed.

Is Business School for You?

It’s important to make sure that business school is truly for you. Can you pay for the tuition or will you have to take out loans? You can expect to pay around $80,000 for two years, the amount of time it takes to earn an MBA. Factor this into your considerations: You’ll be making more money, but you’ll also have to pay for school.

Read more about the costs of MBA programs.

Remember that an MBA requires a two-year commitment. Are you willing to go back to school, write papers and study for exams? You may want to consider a part-time MBA program. In these programs, you’ll take classes at night over a period of generally three years, allowing you the time to maintain your current job – which can defray the costs of school greatly. Online MBAs also offer greater flexibility to students who don’t want to leave their jobs or have limited time.

Despite all the benefits of an MBA, don’t think that you have to pursue one just because you were a business major in college. Evaluate what an MBA will provide you and what is the best method of earning one.

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