Veteran: Second Bachelors Degree vs MBA

What's up everyone this is my first time posting on here but have been a long time reader. Here's my situation that I would really appreciate some guidance on: 

I'm currently in the Army and in a special operations unit with multiple combat deployments to the Middle East. I'm starting the process of transitioning back to the civilian side and will be getting out of the military around March/April of 2023 and am certain that I want to go the IB--> PE route. I already have a BS but in a super non-finance major from a decent but super non-target school (think VA Tech, WVU, James Madison etc.) with a below average gpa for the industry of 3.1. Admittedly, I had no idea what I really wanted to do when I was younger and kind of just floated around during college but have done a lot of maturing in the time since then. 

Since the military will fully pay for a degree through the GI Bill program, the first step in my plan to getting into the industry is to go get another degree, this time a more business focused one. I'm not sure which route would be more attractive though, get another undergrad degree in finance/economics or go for the more advanced MBA. Factors influencing my decision are; if I go for the second undergrad I'm confident I can get into a top 25. There are multiple guys who used to be in my unit that have similar college experience or none at all that have done it. If I go for the MBA though I'm not so sure I can get into as "prestigious" of a program but the MBA distinction is obviously higher than a bachelors (full disclosure I have not taken the GMAT yet). 

So, boiling the post down to one hypothetical question. What would be more of an asset in breaking into IB, a second undergrad degree from a top 25 school or an MBA from say between a top 50-75 business school? 

Appreciate any insight.

Comments (12)

Jan 2, 2022 - 5:51pm

Depends, do you want to put up with the analyst grind and then have have more exit opportunities within MF Private Equity and the Hedge fund space, or do you want to enter Investment Banking as an MBA Associate with similar exits but less optionality? (Some places are actually recruiting Post MBA Associates now but you have to put forth effort to connect with them) In the first option you're dealing with younger and lesser mature peers(not a hit on them) , in the second you're dealing with people more established in their careers, or career changers. I would reach out to vets at the educational programs you want to attend, and also network with vets who work at the banks you think will give you the best learning or work experience. 

  • 2
  • Prospect in PE - Growth
Jan 2, 2022 - 10:51pm

This is completely unrelated to your post, but can you talk about your experience in the military a bit? I go to a big IB schoool and am gearing up for recruiting and all that, but I want to serve before getting into the workforce. Have been looking at OCS and the pipeline to army spec ops. How has your experience been? What would your advice to me be?

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jan 2, 2022 - 11:58pm

I have a second bachelor degree in a hard science. Did it just for fun since it was all in 4 years and basically free. Hasn't helped much for recruiting. I'd spend the time travelling/partying if I were to do it all over again.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jan 4, 2022 - 10:02am

Concurrently with the first degree so in hindsight that wasn't helpful. In your situation I would either 1) head straight into MBA (preferred as you'd be recruiting for an associate role/generally have more networking/industry optionality; are there schools in your target range that have good access to IB? I suspect there are) or 2) perhaps consider a 1 year Masters in Finance program that has access to the employers you're interested in (less preferable as your options are generally more limited and you'd be recruiting for an analyst role). From time value of money perspective, I can't imagine 4 years in a second undergraduate degree would be helpful to you ($800k+ in potential earnings foregone). Once your age is closer to/over say 30, it becomes tough to recruit for analyst roles. With your military/leadership background, recruiting at the post MBA associate level makes more sense. 

Jan 3, 2022 - 1:49pm

Acing the GMAT and writing a killer application, which will you around half a year to 1 year max, gets you into a far better position. There is not much need to spend a few years for another bachelors degree just to apply for an MBA 

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 4, 2022 - 7:58am

Hey man, BLUF: get your MBA not second bachelor. For a few reasons:

1. Shorter path than getting a second masters

2. You will start as an associate not an analyst (trust me it would get old when a yuppie 26yo associate is dicking on you as an analyst lol). Also substantial difference in pay

3. You have the needed work experience for the MBA at this point. Don't worry about your UG stats. Vets place very well at top schools. Don't self select out

4. As mentioned above, banks do have vet programs that you could do without doing anymore schooling if you want (e.g., Goldman Veteran Integration Program). Find a couple banker veterans on LinkedIn and reach out. They will help you for sure

5. The second bachelor is not really a thing (I think it more so is in the UK?). But it would raise more questions than anything else. It also wouldn't add much to your resume like and MBA / graduate degree would

Jan 9, 2022 - 2:06am

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