The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an internationally-recognized degree designed to develop requisite skills for careers in business and management. The (traditionally) two-year programme is an avenue to make one eligible and well-qualified for a plethora of job opportunities. These opportunities arise in various spheres – the public sector, private industry, corporate firms, as well as government and policy think-tanks.
MBA programmes (offered both in India and abroad) differ in requirements for admissions, course structure, course content, as well as duration.
- Most MBA programmes include certain ‘core’ subjects (accounting, economics, marketing, operations, business administration, human resources, ethics, etc.) along with elective courses that allow participants to follow their own personal or professional interests.
- As far as admissions are concerned, some programmes take fresh graduates while others prefer students with a few (at least two) years of work experience, depending on the institute and rigour of the programme.
- Traditionally, MBA programmes take two years to complete, over four or six terms. However, several institutes have recently started offering one-year courses as well as part-time and online courses. Executive MBA (EMBA) programmes targeted at professionals are also gaining traction.
The most important question to answer before doing an MBA, or even applying for one, is Why do you want to do an MBA? Given that MBAs after one of the most sought-after postgraduate degrees (in terms of popularity), there is a lot of hype around these programmes, and many aspirants (or even tentative aspirants) fall prey to some of the common misconceptions and myths related to MBAs. Remember that answering this question will help you determine whether you want to do an MBA and whether you should do one.
This article will bust some myths about MBAs, and then list reasons for why you should do an MBA.
- Doing an MBA program will immediately make sure I’m at the top of the corporate ladder and I will be paid extremely well
Doing an MBA enables you to start climbing the corporate ladder and equip yourself with the skills to make it to the top, but it doesn’t automatically put you high up on it. When you start working after completing your MBA, there will be senior people that you work under – management professionals and people who are experts in their respective fields, and you’ll have to work to get up there to get people to listen to you. You will need to use networking and interpersonal skills along with your business acumen and insights to do so. While institutes publish their placement reports placing emphasis on the higher pay packages, there are very few people getting those salaries – a better estimate of what you will be paid is the median salary (keeping in mind that you could end up being paid lower than that as well).
- Great B-Schools are the one-stop solution and booster shot for my career
While it is important to get into a prestigious B-School, the highest-ranking Business Schools may not always be the best for you as a candidate – you should ideally pick the one that best fits your career vision and aligns with your goals and what you want from the MBA programme. It is also important for you to work towards getting good grades, building a network (contrary to popular perception, you don’t automatically inherit the contacts – you need to put in considerable effort to maintain this) and getting a good placement. Also, keep in mind that an MBA is not the last step in your education – you need to keep learning and honing your skills to be successful.
- MBAs are expensive and not worth the price (given that student loans combined with not working for the one/two years that you’re busy studying)
With tuition costs increasing across the world, MBA programmes turn out to be a major financial decision, especially if you need to take student loans. You shouldn’t get disheartened, because several prestigious schools offer scholarships and loan repayment assistance programs. Additionally, despite our disclaimer above, placements are decent enough to enable you to at least consider making his tradeoff, and there are several Part-time MBA programmes that you can opt for should you want to continue working.
As a benchmark, most of the top-ranking B-schools in USA charge around $75,000 as one year of tuition, and alumni make around $170,000 to $200,000 as salary per annum after three years of placement. In India, an MBA at IIMs would cost around 22-25 lakh INR overall.
- An MBA isn’t right for someone with a non-business background
Doing an MBA isn’t limited to those who are familiar with business aspects – an MBA allows you to gain knowledge and insights into these business aspects, as well as build soft skills, hone your problem-solving and thinking skills, refine your communication skills, and develop great leadership potential.
REASONS TO DO THE MBA
- Develop certifiable management skills – An MBA will help you learn and apply the best management techniques, and rise to the challenge of successfully managing a team. It will help you develop skills that enable you to adapt to grow and flourish in changing business and corporate environments, that are often harsh. MBAs are one of the most versatile degrees because of the many applications for people with a myriad range of backgrounds – they develop your problem-solving skills, leadership potential, and bring out the best in you.
- Increased Employability – Most people with a single degree, especially one that doesn’t necessarily focus on soft skills and transferable skills (like leadership, critical and analytical thinking, creativity, and communication) end up being under-qualified for roles that exploit their technical knowledge (specifically people looking to segue into managerial roles). Having an MBA degree acts as a powerful differentiation as a job candidate – you have learnt how to adapt and use your problem-solving skills strategically, and you have these transferable skills that other candidates may lack – this would definitely give you an edge over other (non-MBA) candidates.
- Career Growth – An MBA can be extremely valuable during hiring. It can help you break into competitive industries or help you secure an executive role. An MBA can also help you start a few rungs higher on the corporate ladder that you’d want to climb by preparing you for leadership roles and opening up opportunities for career advancements (sooner than they would if you didn’t have an MBA).
- Career Changes – Should you decide that the industry and/or job that you’re currently in isn’t the best fit for you and you would like to transition to a role and/or industry that is significantly different from what you’re currently doing, an MBA would be useful while making that transition. The versatility and diversity of MBA programme specialisations (Strategic Management, Operations Management, International Business, IT Management, Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, even Entrepreneurship) are great support for those considering a career switch. It can also provide valuable skills and insight to set up your own company – ideate, innovate and be your own boss.
- Job Certainty – While no power in this world can grant you complete job certainty and security, having an MBA works to your advantage in this aspect. Dedicated professionals with leadership and problem-solving skills are always required in any firm, more so in times of crisis. This remains consistent with the fact that even during economic slowdowns and recession periods, hiring from B-schools dipped negligibly compared to other institutions. Additionally, the advent of automation and its revolutionary effects has already begun to make several production sector jobs redundant, but an MBA could help you buck the trend – managers in charge, armed with out-of-the-box strategic thinking and leadership skills, would be required to ensure a smooth digital transformation, as well as maintenance and further ideation.
- Business and Corporate Networks – in our myth-buster, we told you that doing an MBA doesn’t magically allow you access to valued networks and contacts. However, as an MBA student, you do get access to brilliant networking opportunities that you can exploit to your advantage. You can become a part of corporate and business networks and utilise the contacts available (including fellow students, alumni, professors, teaching staff as well as industry professionals that may be working with your institute) to give you insights and opportunities in the business world.
- Better Pay Packages – While this is a benefit that will be visible in the long-term (given you’re good at what you do and you work your way up the corporate ladder), it should not be your sole motivation for doing an MBA – pay packages are good in the long run for most alumni of prestigious top-tier B-schools, but that may not be the case for all B-schools. However, the salaries are definitely higher than those offered to fresh bachelors’ degree graduates.
Overall, doing an MBA is generally a good career choice. Deciding the MBA programme that is the right fit for you is essential to ensure that you are able to maximise the benefit you get from the effort that you put in.