A $150K MBA: IS IT WORTH IT?

One of the most expensive degrees in the United States is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Programs can cost over $150K for just two or three years of study. Is it worth quitting a decent job paying to pursue this degree? It really depends.

An MBA is a route to managing an organization and learning more about business. If you already have experience doing this, perhaps investment of time and money into this degree is not worth it. If you don’t have much interest in creating or managing a company, it’s probably not the right program either.

Assuming you have an interest in management or a particular area in management, such as marketing or finance, it’s important to consider what your future goals are. For example, one path to successfully using an MBA degree is specializing in the field of marketing and then joining a corporation as a marketing manager. With experience in this role, a lot of hard work, and a bit of luck, you can progress to leading the organization as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Alternatively, a specialization in finance can lead to careers in investment banking. These are high-paying jobs that focus on areas such as Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and mergers/acquisitions. With a job in investment banking, the cost of an MBA can be recouped in just a couple of years. The MBA can also open doors to the field of management consulting. These highly sought-after jobs enable new graduates to work with executives in industry across a wide array of projects related to strategy, marketing, finance, and other areas in management.

The second source of learning in an MBA is from your classmates. Many business schools have cohorts—smaller groups of students that work together on projects over multiple semesters/quarters. Many start new businesses with their cohort peers, discover new ways to contribute to the community, and enrich the student body by leading clubs. For example, the Tech Club at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is an active student-led organization that organizes student treks to major technology companies in Silicon Valley, prepares students for tech interviews, and organizes on-campus networking events.

Finally, the lifelong relationships you form through an MBA program can add value long-term. Those within your cohort would often help you expecting nothing in return. Further, as an alumnus of an MBA program you’ll also find support from other alumni of your institution. Heck, some MBA students even get married to each other!

To summarize, it’s important to weigh the benefits and tradeoffs of pursuing this expensive degree. If you feel you have much to learn from the business program and your classmates, this program is worth pursuing. However, make sure to clearly plan next steps, i.e. how you would like to use the degree to make a bigger impact to business and society while paying off those student loans.