Education and Employment

When to start an MBA program


With the increase in popularity and demand for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, you may be wondering how to determine whether it’s time to earn yours.

With a growing number of younger professionals interested in pursuing an MBA degree, universities are responding by adjusting admission qualifications. The long-held requirement of 3-5 years of professional experience is now not the only determining factor for eligibility as college recruiters are considering other ways students can enrich classrooms.

So, when exactly is it the right time to earn your MBA? MBA programs are not one-size-fits-all and determining whether you should pursue one is based on your own career goals.

What is an MBA?

An MBA is a comprehensive graduate-level management degree. Programs cover a variety of topics that touch every aspect of a business, including:

  • Accounting
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Law
  • Operations
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business Analytics
  • Negotiations
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Information Systems
  • And others

The curriculum prepares you to lead cross-functional teams, enhances your career opportunities, increases your compensation, and helps you qualify for promotions.

Nine ways to know it’s time to start your MBA

  1. You feel stuck in your position.

    If you’re finding it hard to get promoted to a higher-level position, you may want to consider earning an MBA degree. Feeling stagnant in your career can cause unhappiness and is one of the main reasons professionals further pursue their education.

    Taking some time to go back to school and enhancing your skillset and knowledge could be just the boost you need to pursue the roles you want.

  2. You’d like an increase in your salary.

    What if you are satisfied with your current position, but are interested instead in a pay bump?

    According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal in late 2018, MBA graduates saw a salary that was, on average, double what they were earning before beginning their program.

  3. You’ve been promoted to a managerial role.

    In another case, already being promoted could be another reason as to why you decide to pursue a graduate education. An MBA curriculum will help you understand the language of business and give you the skills needed to rise to the occasion. You’ll gain confidence in your decision making, feel prepared to participate in important meetings, and strategically lead a team.

  4. Your employer offers tuition assistance

    An MBA might not have even been on your radar, but you might want to take advantage of any education-related benefits provided by your employer. Tuition assistance can save students thousands of dollars per year.

  5. You have the time.

    Aside from money, the most significant factor when considering an MBA is time. MBA programs are very hands-on and require a set amount of time to be dedicated almost every day to be completed. Whether it is work or family commitments, working professionals find it difficult to balance studying for a degree.

    Younger professionals are seeking out their graduate degrees sooner rather than later, and universities are welcoming it. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), who creates and administers the GMAT exam, younger prospective MBA students (23 years and younger) said their main reason to pursue an MBA was to enhance their career path in the future.

    Cohorts are becoming more diverse and enriching by bringing in candidates with a range of experience.

  6. You’re interested in starting your own business.

    According to GMAC, 25% of younger professionals listed the reason they decided to pursue an MBA was to become an entrepreneur.

    Although not required to become an entrepreneur, an MBA has plenty of advantages worth considering. In fact, an MBA program's curriculum could help you avoid costly and timely mistakes.

    Understanding all the steps from ideation to funding and learning how to navigate every aspect of a business is essential for entrepreneurs. Developing these skills is at the core of any respected MBA program. Plus, participating in problem-solving case studies and learning from professionals currently managing businesses provides valuable insight for your own.

    Networking is another valuable aspect. Who knows? You could find your next employee or business partner. Overall, you’ll learn to get your business further faster.

  7. You did not receive an undergraduate business education.

    According to the GMAC, in 2017 alone, more than half of all MBA graduates had a non-business undergraduate degree.

    Non-business degree holders often find the advanced business management education the best tool to obtain upper-management positions that they would otherwise be unqualified for.

  8. You’re looking to change careers.

    Business and non-business degree holders alike can both find themselves wanting to make a career transition at any point in time.

    An MBA program is a great way to begin a career transition. It provides business knowledge across the spectrum that can be valuable in any industry. It can also give you hands-on experience through experiential coursework or internships, provide you with access to a career placement team, create valuable networking opportunities, and train you on the latest tools and technology.

    According to GMAC's prospective student survey from 2018, 36% of MBA candidates planned to switch job functions, and 27% wanted to change industries.

  9. You’ve determined it’s what you need to get where you want to be.

    Determine what your career goals are and outline how an MBA would help achieve them.

    It is important to note that an MBA is only one option. Some professionals find success in focusing on work instead of education, and others find a specialized master's more effective (i.e., Master of Science in Finance, Logistics and Marketing, etc.).

    Talk to colleagues, mentors, or friends and get their advice. Do your research and look for job postings online and see what their requirements are.

A timeless degree

An MBA degree will be valuable to younger and more experienced professionals alike. Whether enhancing your opportunities or creating new ones for yourself, education will always be a worthy investment.

If you’re interested in pursuing an MBA, learn more about the different types of programs available to you.