How Useful Is an MBA?

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So just how useful is an MBA? The degree’s most obvious value is that it thoroughly prepares students to become leaders in the business world. An MBA’s purpose is to provide graduate students with a level of theoretical and practical training that can give them a more thorough understanding of general business management principles. Graduates can apply this understanding to the business world as a whole, or they can home in on a specific aspect of business.

An MBA’s core curriculum commonly includes courses devoted to fundamental business concepts, such as finance, accounting, human resources, management, and leadership. MBA concentrations build on these fundamentals in a way that can either emphasize a singular business aspect, such as executive management, or cover a specific industry, such as health care. Ultimately, the program prepares students to use management principles to become effective leaders who can deftly execute business strategies and oversee organizational behavior in a manner that moves a company forward.

Skills Refined in an MBA Program

Another useful aspect of MBA programs is that they teach numerous skills that students can apply on the job. In addition to helping students understand high-level business concepts, these skills also empower students to lead others in creating and executing more effective business strategies.

One of the key skills students hone through an MBA program is critical thinking. A strong sense of analytical decision-making helps business professionals resolve day-to-day issues in a way that minimizes negative impacts on long-term goals. This skill can allow MBA graduates to devise effective business strategies with a greater sense of confidence.

MBA students also fine-tune their entrepreneurial skills. These competencies are valuable to people who start their own businesses from scratch. The core principles associated with entrepreneurship, such as creative thinking, goal setting, and market evaluation, are also fundamental in fueling an established business’s growth.

Another important skill students develop through an MBA program is communication. The ability to effectively share ideas and strategies in a way that’s clear and unambiguous can ensure that everyone has a complete understanding of each decision. Effective communication can also help foster a greater sense of trust in the corporate environment, which can lead to a more efficient workplace.

Enhanced communication skills coincide with refined interpersonal skills, which are another vital competency gained through an MBA program. Collaborative teams help companies reach their short- and long-term goals more efficiently because objectives are more openly shared by members across an organization.

All of these skills are components of effective leadership, which serves as the backbone of an MBA program. The ability to inspire others to make meaningful contributions in pursuit of common goals is a product of transparent communication, critical foresight, and creative corporate strategy. Leaders who can successfully execute each of these elements are equipped to steer their organizations toward future growth.

Putting the MBA to Use

MBA degrees can be useful in helping graduates land various types of leadership positions. While an MBA does not guarantee employment, it can provide more direct access to certain high-level career paths that may not be available to those without advanced degrees.

For example, some MBA holders may pursue opportunities to become marketing managers. Professionals in this role direct their organization’s marketing strategies to promote brand awareness and drive sales. Other responsibilities may include setting budgets, devising marketing campaigns, analyzing marketing data, and managing marketing staff. The median wage for marketing managers is approximately $140,000 per year, although this can fluctuate as a result of factors such as experience and job location.

Another career path that could be available to MBA grads is operations manager. Someone in this multifaceted position is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day functionality of a company, from both an internal and external perspective. Operations managers are responsible for overseeing inventory, coordinating departments on various endeavors, creating corporate policies, and even engaging in human resources duties such as employee hiring. The median salary for this position is approximately $97,000, but compensation may ascend into six figures for those with several years of experience.

MBA graduates may also go into business as management consultants. Those in this position work with companies to identify inefficiencies that may be interfering with an organization’s goals. While management consultants can work for large companies, some choose to lean on their entrepreneurial skills and become self-employed. Management consultants tend to have higher earning potential in the early stages of their careers compared with other management positions; the median salary is about $100,000.

Some finance-minded MBA grads choose to become investment bankers. These professionals typically help client companies make investments and execute other strategies to grow capital. They’re also charged with providing assistance in major corporate transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions. The median annual salary for investment bankers is roughly $71,000. However, picking up a few years of experience and building a strong reputation could lead to substantial financial gains.

Other positions that MBA holders can pursue aren’t necessarily confined to working for a particular company. A financial advisor, for instance, primarily helps other people manage their money and plan for various life events, such as saving for retirement or putting funds aside for their children’s education. They can also help individuals build and manage investment portfolios. The median salary for this role is around $55,000.

Key Factors to Consider

While an MBA offers opportunities to pursue certain high-level positions that might otherwise be unattainable, it doesn’t guarantee employment. Some positions may require competencies in a particular area of business, so these opportunities may be available only to those who earned MBAs with a specific concentration.

It’s wise to not expect a high-end salary immediately following graduation. While an MBA can help a person achieve a lucrative salary, such lofty financials are often only gained after years of experience. Other factors, such as location of the job, can also affect earning potential.

A Useful Degree

Ultimately, the usefulness of an MBA rests on graduates’ retention of the skills they learn in the degree program. These skills govern business elements that collectively shape individuals into leaders who are ready to devise and execute growth strategies while encouraging others to strive toward specific goals. While having an MBA on one’s resume can send positive signals to potential employers, it is more important to demonstrate fundamental business competencies on the job on a daily basis.

Learn More

Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Online MBA” program, Ohio University’s online MBA degree program takes advantage of the latest in classroom technology to bring students an engaging and academically rigorous experience that can benefit them in their careers.

With concentrations in finance, health care, executive management, and business analytics, the program offers graduates the business background and team experience they will need to be successful leaders of innovation and business endeavors.

Recommended Reading:

Benefits of Tailoring Your Degree to Fit Your Career Needs and Goals

Self-Made Business People – How They Did It

Online MBA Education


American Marketing Association, “Five Career Paths and Job Opportunities for MBA Graduates”

Fortune, “How MBA Programs Make Great Leaders—and Where They Fail”

Investopedia, “5 MBA Skills Employers Look for in Grads”

Investopedia, Master of Business Administration—MBA

Ohio University, Online Master of Business Administration

The Princeton Review, “Why Get an MBA? Practical, Applicable Skills”