Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in business administration are highly interested in the core functions of business. From general business administration and project management to marketing, finance and information technology, there’s a wide net of foundational areas of expertise that allows business professionals to showcase their skills and knowledge in the workplace.
But the road to professional growth doesn’t have to end when you earn your undergraduate degree. Many business students wonder: Is an MBA worth it? If you pursue an MBA, or master’s in business administration, you can make yourself even more appealing to potential employers. More job offers, greater salaries, promotions and opportunities to display your abilities in leadership positions are among the reasons to consider an MBA.
Are you interested in professional growth? Do you want to gain more work experience and enhance your career path? Below, we’ve covered some of the details of earning your MBA, including how long it takes to earn the degree, your potential curriculum, program specifics and what to expect after graduation.
Is Getting an MBA Worth It?
Earning your MBA is an important step in your career. It’s also an unparalleled investment in your future. Before determining the necessary steps to take along your route to getting an MBA, you should consider the potential return on investment. An MBA comes with many benefits for those ready for a new professional venture. Some of those include:
Increased Salary Potential
Arguably the most popular reason people go back to school for an MBA is to increase their salary. As it turns out, the numbers support this reasoning. According to PayScale, the average graduate with an MBA degree made about $90,000 per year as of March 2021. Compared to the median salary of those with a bachelor’s degree in business administration — $65,000 — earning your MBA can get you a higher starting salary if you’re changing careers or looking for a promotion at your current place of employment.
There is little doubt that earning an MBA will significantly increase your salary. The return on investment from an MBA has remained high for a long time and there is no reason to expect it to go down. Pair this with the fact that an increasing number of institutions are offering flexible online options that allow students to work while learning, and you can see the enormous value of a modern MBA.
Ability to Work While You Learn
Some business professionals question the return on investment due to the cost of school, in addition to lost wages while taking two years off to complete a full-time degree. Fortunately, if you decide to get your MBA online, you are no longer faced with the daunting prospect of two years’ worth of lost wages. Instead, online MBA programs provide you the opportunity to weave your coursework into your work schedule and still maintain work-life balance. Some employers even pay for their employees to get an MBA. It never hurts to discuss this possibility with your employer during your application process.
With online MBA programs, you don’t need to worry about relocation or time spent commuting to school. Working full time while earning an online MBA is a big commitment, but the ability to keep your job makes it a viable option for many business professionals.
Enhanced Job Opportunities
An MBA opens the door to many job opportunities you otherwise would not have. It can be your key to a valuable promotion such as a managerial position with your existing employer, or with a new company.
With an MBA, you can also change career paths to become anything from a brand manager to a freelance consultant. Your MBA allows you to apply for many different jobs that require an advanced business degree.
If you’ve been working in manufacturing and you want to switch to a finance-related career, an MBA can allow you to make that successful industry change. Good business administration skills are a requirement for most upper-level management positions, and an MBA will automatically put you in the position to apply for many more jobs than those without the degree.
Learn Management Skills to Become a Leader
In considering if getting an MBA is worth it, it’s also important to think about how an advanced education can equip you to lead a team.
One essential skill MBA graduates learn is the ability to successfully manage and motivate a team. Learning to apply the principles and theories of management to real-world strategies is key to running a successful business. Organizations want leaders who not only can provide guidance, direction and an ability to motivate staff, but have a proven track record of showing vision for the future.
By earning your MBA degree, you will become proficient in decision-making, communication, analysis, and other leadership skills. You will also demonstrate the ability to think strategically for the future of your team and your company.
One thing that distinguishes MBA programs from other academic pursuits is that students are typically required to have a certain amount of work experience under their belts before they can be admitted. While the specific work requirements may vary from one program to the next, the typical MBA student may need anywhere from three to five years of experience in the workplace. Some students are invited to join MBA programs straight out of college, but honing professional skills and gaining familiarity with a typical business office can provide a crucial foundation for success.
As for academic experience, the average MBA student first receives a four-year bachelor’s degree in a field related to business. This may be accounting, finance or marketing, to name just a few examples. The four-year degree helps students develop core skills and also gauges their level of interest in further business education.
Graduate Degree Timeline
Generally speaking, students can earn their graduate degree in as little as two years. This timeline can vary based on scheduling flexibility and day-to-day availability. One of the major benefits of pursuing the Online Master of Business Administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland is its flexibility paired with quality.
The online program is designed for full-time working professionals and offers the same rigor in curriculum and one-on-one time with top faculty as their on-campus MBA programs. Full-time students in the online program typically complete about 13 courses per year to stay on track and graduate in two years; however, students can weave the coursework into their schedule and expand the timeline to graduation to up to five years.
Another essential consideration for students asking if an MBA is worth it: the curriculum.
The MBA curriculum is designed to build on your current business knowledge by introducing new tactics in big data to make business decisions. Some of the areas of expertise that the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, are entrepreneurship, data analytics, management, information systems, ethics, the global economic environment, financial accounting, operations, negotiation, leadership and human capital.
The Online MBA program at Maryland Smith is a two-year program that consists of 54 credit hours. Coursework is broken down into four different sections: Foundation One, Foundation Two, Global Study or International Business, and Residencies. Some of the foundational courses you may take while pursuing the program include:
Data Analysis. In business, you have to make important decisions based on facts and figures. In the Data Analysis course, you can gain a range of analytical and quantitative skills. Learn how to summarize data, perform regression analysis and use spreadsheets to display information in a consumable format.
Decision Modeling. Recent developments in technology and digital devices have made it necessary for business professionals to understand IT. New hardware and user interfaces enable business leaders to access greater amounts of data. This course will teach you how to use and manage new processes to make well-informed decisions.
Ethical Leadership. Business leaders have various legal and ethical responsibilities to attend to in the workplace. This course will teach you how to analyze situations from an ethical perspective and identify and address limitations in the market based on these principles.
Operations Management. Handling operations is a strategic role that requires specific tools and techniques for successful execution. In this course, you’ll learn how operations management is applied to manufacturing, services and more.
Based on the specialization you pursue, you have various elective courses to choose from that focus on your area of expertise.
As noted earlier, the wide range of specializations that fall under the umbrella of business administration is what makes it such an attractive degree to pursue. The general track is for those who desire a broader MBA experience and want to focus on improving core management concepts within each area of expertise. Those who want a more defined experience should pursue a different track.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the specializations that you can study during your time in the Online MBA program at Maryland Smith:
Accounting. Students can take on the accounting specialization, where you’ll learn how to analyze, track and communicate financial information as it relates to a business strategy to assist in the financial management of a company. Students can take a deep dive into statement analysis, taxation, fraud and more.
Finance. For a more in-depth experience with business money management, the finance track is for you. This is where students can gain an understanding of the world of corporate finance, portfolio management and financial restructuring. Here, students can also learn how to make strategic decisions by determining risks and evaluating markets.
Marketing. For a more creative edge in the world of business administration, you may consider the marketing specialization. Here, students can learn everything they need to know about brand management, consumer segmentation through predictive modeling, micro-targeting and analysis.
Information systems and business analytics. Technology and data management play key roles in nearly every industry today and have a major influence on the world of business. Professionals in business administration must be ready to make smart decisions with speed and precision. The information systems and business analytics specialization empowers you to learn how to manage and analyze data while implementing information systems that can help you customize a solution for your business.
Supply chain management. Whether you’re interested in pursuing and managing business from a local or global perspective, there’s an undeniable need to understand the ins and outs of supply chain management. In the supply chain management track, you’ll learn how to properly identify and mitigate risk in business decisions, improve overall business efficiencies and utilize cutting-edge technology to improve processes in the workplace.
Regardless of the specialty you choose, the Smith Online MBA program enables you to gain data-driven business intelligence that prepares you for the next step in your career path in business administration.
Reasons to Pursue Your MBA
So, is an MBA worth it? There are a number of specific reasons why pursuing this advanced business degree might make sense.
Change in Career
One reason to consider getting an MBA is because you anticipate transitioning into a new function or industry or even starting your own business. You may not be firmly decided on what that new function, industry or business will be, but earning an MBA can provide a broad foundation that exposes you to a host of different areas. It also gives you the opportunity to network with and learn from professors and other students with a variety of experiences.
Pursue a Leadership Position
Of course, you don’t have to change industries or start your own company to benefit from an MBA. Maybe, following a few years of working at a company, you feel as though you are ready to lead your own team or perhaps even advance to the C-suite. Getting an MBA helps you augment your current business experience with leadership skills, opening the door to career advancement.
Earn Your MBA and Grow Your Career
The Online Master of Business Administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland is designed to turn students into highly skilled business leaders who are proficient in decision-making, leadership, analysis and communication. Some of the benefits of pursuing this online MBA include:
Flexibility. There’s no need to quit your job to go back to school; the convenience of the online classroom enables you to weave coursework into your already busy schedule.
Network. The Robert H. Smith School of Business has a network of more than 66,000 alumni all over the world, and you can join and connect with thousands of other like-minded professionals.
Academic splendor. The robust, engaging curriculum of the Online MBA at Maryland Smith offers the same academic rigor as campus-based MBA programs.
Accreditation. The Robert H. Smith School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an American professional association that ensures the highest quality standards in educational, professional and business organizations.
Are you ready to transform your future? Learn more about the Online MBA program at Maryland Smith by requesting program details or reaching out to a program adviser today.