Written by Luke Berté, Editor, Graduate Prospects, August 2012
Supplied by: Association of MBAs
Studying for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) can improve your career prospects, increase your salary and give you a great opportunity to network. However, the workload, personal commitment and cost involved means that it isn't for everyone.
Employers continue to value the MBA as a guarantee of an individual's all-round business skills and knowledge at a strategic level. High-quality leadership skills are in short supply and many companies are prepared to pay for people with practical experience, a thorough grasp of business and the ability to inspire others. The MBA, delivered by the world’s accredited business schools, continues to provide the solution.
The obvious benefit of studying for this qualification are the financial returns, with salary increases and the impact on career progression two key examples. The Association of MBAs careers survey 2010 revealed that the median business salary in the UK was £64,000, and the mean stood at £73,000.
In the UK, those surveyed were earning, on average, 25% more immediately after their MBA, 85% more three to five years later, and 153% more six to ten years after graduation, than those without MBAs.
Internationally, earnings on average were 33% more immediately after their MBA, 92% more three to five years later, and 151% more six to ten years after graduation.
However, MBA graduates have found that the degree is not an instant passport to a six-figure salary and automatic career progression. Such results require hard work and a continuous drive for self-development.
In a single MBA class you will typically find students from up to 20 different countries with a diverse range of skills and experiences. In such an environment much of the learning comes from collaboration and networking with fellow students - for this reason, teamwork and group projects are a key component of the course. It is clear that a growing number of MBA graduates go on to more entrepreneurial ventures while many enjoy successful careers running their own business.
For those considering an MBA, the first piece of advice is to focus your attention on accredited MBA programmes. There are thousands of business schools in the world offering courses, but not all have achieved accreditation for their programmes by the Association of MBAs. This is based on peer review with top academics from accredited programmes being part of the assessment panel.
The Association's accreditation is firmly established as the international standard for the MBA, and has been achieved by programmes at 195 business schools throughout 70 countries worldwide. Accreditation is not to be confused with media rankings, which are based on a limited range of benchmarks. The process involves a comprehensive, independent audit of systems, people and processes, as well as a thorough and qualitative inspection by industry experts. Feedback from students, alumni and employers is also taken into account.
Accreditation is valid for a maximum of five years, after which schools must be reassessed to ensure that quality standards are maintained.
To enrol as a student you will need to have a degree, although some programmes will allow you to supplement it with relevant experience. Most importantly, you should have at least three years' work experience in business or a managerial function. This is a very important criterion and it's essential that you choose to do an MBA at the right time in your career. Too soon and with too little experience and you will have less chance of getting on an accredited programme, not to mention that you might find it difficult to keep up with the level in class.
Some schools will also require you to complete the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) as a prerequisite for enrolment on the course and will specify the minimum score you need for admission. This demanding computerised test assesses numerical and written skills, so if you lack confidence in these areas seek help in preparing for the test before you apply.
All the evidence shows that investment in an MBA can bring significant returns to individuals and organisations. For repositioning yourself in the job market, widening your horizons and bringing improvements to your business, there is no better qualification.
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