The Future of the MBA

Armhoo1's picture
Armhoo1 - Certified Professional
Rank: Senior Baboon | banana points 207

Hi All,

I'm new to this site, but wanted to get commentary from likeminded people about whether or not to pursue an MBA. My rule of thumb is that it's only worth consideration from a T-20 program, especially if an employer or grants aren't paying for it.

Yet, with a six-figure price tag will it really make or break your career? I'm of the opinion that there's a surplus of MBAs out there. The cost will go up since foreign students paying international tuition rates are becoming less intrigued by the prospects of studying/living/working in the U.S. Given recent wage inflation, I wouldn't be surprised if employers start preferring competent applicants that don't have advanced degrees.

I've heard from many people that MBA courses are not any harder, or even easier, than undergraduate courses. At the end of the day, the MBA is just a signaling tool. The MBA has become so watered down, that schools offer half-assed programs such as evening, weekend, and even online formats.

Recently on Wall Street, Jon Gray of Blackstone and David Solomon of GS are considered heir-apparents to become CEOs of their respective firms. Neither has an MBA, and Solomon didn't even attend an Ivy for undergrad. Obviously, both these guys had no idea they would one day rise to the top. I'm sure there's more examples of this, especially at the mid-Manager level and at less prestigious institutions.

What am I overlooking in my thought process?

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Comments (12)

Mar 21, 2018

The MBA was pretty watered down in the 60's and 70's as well. A lot of current CEOs went for MBAs straight out of undergrad. But you're right, it still is a signalling tool. But im under the impression people dont use MBAs for the academic rigor rather than the network and future opportunities it presents.

Mar 21, 2018

Most top-tier education is a signaling tool, not just the MBA. Google "sheepskin effect".

Mar 21, 2018

The educational aspect is good if you are a career switcher. But if you're not, then you would primarily go for the networking opportunities and brand name. Even if you already work in a given industry, an MBA from a top program will open up more doors than you would otherwise have available to you.

Mar 22, 2018

I do not think MBA is watered down. Because, all the programs like distance learning, part-time programs, online programs help for many who do not have time to pursue classroom courses but they need MBA to grow in their career.
Many of us say, MBA helps to explore the network and get opportunities. MBA is worth doing for who hava a bigger dreams in the career.

Mar 22, 2018

At m7 and indeed it's a signaling tool per masterz57

Something you overlooked is the avg age of death. Medtech raised life expectancy and thus people aren't dying. If people aren't dying they aren't retiring

Then for you to promote, you need to be either star of stars, or company needs to grow like Facebook (which is impossible for all firms growing together)

All in all, the work-hard-here-thirty-years pension plan is dead, and thus MBA of a top school becomes leadership pipeline

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Mar 23, 2018

ik a few kids where if they dont get over 700+ on the GMAT they wont bother applying to grad school since, as you noted, if its not top 10/15 or w/e its not worth going. whatever 'worth' means, anyways.

Mar 23, 2018

That is an over-generalization. While the top 15 or so schools will certainly open up more doors than others, there are other programs that may have good specializations or are regionally prestigious. i.e. McCombs for people who want to work in Texas, or Foster for people who want to work in the Seattle tech scene (Microsoft, Amazon, etc.). Further, just because you score below a 700 does not mean you cannot get into a top 15 school - the 710+ average scores most of them report are averages, meaning plenty of admitted students scored below that threshold. If other aspects of your application are strong, you can still get into a top school.

Mar 23, 2018

good point and agree, just stating what kids I work with feel.

Mar 23, 2018

I get in a current top one with 650. The rest can be guessed. But my sat scores are much better.

But here's the way I look at it. I can find a way to write off on taxes so only 100k. I live a couple blocks away. It's in my city so gives a new group of hungry kids to network with. It has some academic value especially since I've maxed out what I can study on my own. I can read Milton Friedman on my own and have. Business strategy big data or accounting I won't do on my own.

Full time program and time off work would make me question why. Part-time and not married has some benefits at a cost I don't like but is doable.

Networking wise - if you are good socially jointhe elite gym in your city or make friends with the door guys at the elite club. Either option if you are social will give you friends that an elite b-school will brag about as their top grads.

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Best Response
Mar 23, 2018

What are some good reasons NOT to pursue an MBA?

For reference about me:

  1. Attended an OK Public University
  2. Worked BB Bank
  3. Worked in Asset Management for Large REPE
  4. On a small team tasked with all Real Estate Investment and Development for a Family Office with ~$5bn in AUM.

I am fully aware of the soft factors of gaining an MBA: "Sheepskin Affect", Social and Professional Signalling, Benefits of Network (that sometimes aren't realized until decades down the line, but can have HUGE benefits).

In time, I would like to begin my own Real Estate Investment / Development Fund. The benefits of the MBA for this are the benefits of network and educational signalling when it comes to fundraising. The downside is that if I wanted to attend a top 5 University, I would likely have to go full-time since I live in SoCal and would have to move to attend. The opportunity cost from both a professional and financial standpoint seem to be too great to fully be willing to put my career and goals on hold for the MBA Degree. Therefore, I've considered attending a part-time MRED (Masters of RE Development) program in my local market that is considered one of the best in the county. Still, I have the same concerns for this as I do for the MBA.

People who are on the fence re: MBA, would love to hear your thoughts as to the pros and cons for choosing to go or not.

I scored a 730 in 2015 and have 2.5 years of remaining score eligibility. I am in agreement that, unless I go to a top 10ish school, it's probably not worth it.

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Mar 23, 2018

I wonder if, while the overall reputation of an MBA is declining in general, the credibility of online/executive MBA programs is rising? I think people (millennials especially) are caring less and less about how the degree was obtained. Who would you consider more resourceful, someone who paid six figures and took 2 years off of work to pursue an in-person MBA, or someone who continued to gain work experience and decided to pay ~50% of tuition to take almost identical classes on their own time?

Mar 23, 2018