Pursuing an MBA is an investment in your future. If you’re interested in taking on a leadership role and earning opportunities to climb the corporate ladder, studying for your Master of Business Administration degree is a promising path. The skills featured in MBA coursework focus heavily on the abilities necessary to take on corporate decision-making and inspire others to perform their best.
As executives have internalized modern thinking about business leadership, noting that both interpersonal soft skills and high-level strategic knowledge are essential, MBA programs have remained at the center of the discussion. The courses MBA students take are designed to cover all aspects of organizational management, with optional concentrations allowing candidates to focus on the industries and topics that interest them most.
If you have your eye on a leadership position, you may already be thinking about getting an MBA. It’s particularly interesting to note that in addition to the most commonly cited advantages of graduating with a business degree, there are other advantages that may prove just as impactful on your trajectory. By learning about both the clear and hidden benefits, you can make a truly informed decision about whether to earn an MBA.
What Are the Primary Advantages of Having an MBA?
Before delving into the hidden benefits of graduating with an MBA, it’s worth reviewing the most well-known facts about these degrees. Collectively, these advantages are the reason why the MBA has become a standard credential among hiring managers who are screening candidates for corporate decision-making roles.
The types of jobs that often go to MBA graduates cover a range of positions, tied to corporate leadership at all levels. As PayScale reported, these openings include project manager, senior financial analyst, human resources manager and C-suite roles such as chief financial officer. When searching for someone to entrust with team leadership, hiring managers may turn to a candidate who has earned a business administration degree, demonstrating a good blend of soft skills and decision-making expertise.
Not only can an MBA degree open the door to more job opportunities, but it can also increase your earning potential. The National Association of Colleges and Employers estimated that the average salary for MBA graduates in 2020 was about $79,043 — about $20,000 more than graduates with a bachelor’s degree in business. Hiring managers seeking employees for high-salaried positions who have the potential for further advancement are looking for employees who have already shown their skills and dedication to management excellence. Completing an MBA program can help you earn that distinction.
Furthermore, MBA graduates may have better job prospects when the hiring market is tough. The Financial Times reported that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave, 2020 graduates with MBAs found conditions more hospitable than people with undergraduate diplomas. Large employers, including household names such as Google, Amazon, and Netflix, often focus their hiring on business school students, and that did not change drastically in the hard-hit pandemic economy.
Earning an MBA can be an important step on a career path that leads to high-level opportunities, the earning potential that comes with those positions of authority, and to a greater level of security in those important roles. Those reasons are compelling, and may be enough to have you consider enrolling in a program. There are many other advantages, however. These are more subtle, but can positively affect your trajectory in business.
What Are the Hidden Benefits of Getting an MBA?
While career advancement, job security, and increased salary are some of the most sought-after benefits of an MBA degree, there are other hidden advantages you should also consider. While going through an MBA program, you can gain knowledge and experience that helps in surprising ways as you pursue your career. The best business schools will help students emerge as well-rounded and skilled professionals, and this type of education goes beyond the syllabuses of the core classes.
Here are five lesser known but equally important upsides of earning an MBA.
1. Grow Your Professional Network
In your MBA program, you will collaborate with like-minded students and have plenty of networking opportunities to meet other professionals. You can foster meaningful connections with a number of people who can deepen your understanding of the business world:
- Students: After choosing your MBA concentration, you will be surrounded by peers with the same ambitions and similar experience as you. Project collaborations and discussions with your cohorts are great occasions to forge connections and help one another by sharing your knowledge. Other MBA students understand what it’s like to pursue a master’s degree and can be your greatest support system.
- Instructors: MBA program instructors are recognized experts in the field, and they challenge their students’ business leadership potential. Sometimes this entails pushing students beyond their comfort zones and placing them in circumstances that test their adaptability. Your instructors are also your mentors, and they want to see you succeed. The relationship you build with them can prove valuable even beyond the classroom.
- Professionals: During and after your program, you’ll have numerous networking opportunities with professionals in your field. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions or for advice, as this may be the start of a long-term professional relationship.
- Alumni: After earning your MBA, you will forever be connected to an alumni network with shared experiences. After you graduate and advance in your career, this group of former students can help you find new opportunities.
2. Acquire an International Perspective
Business is not contained by borders. In an increasingly globalized business environment, the perspective and contacts you can gain from professionals in an MBA cohort are invaluable. While many online MBA programs address international markets in books or discussions, the regimen of MBA studies offered by the Carson College of Business can take your education a step further and help you explore world markets firsthand.
An international field study can help you build the confidence to go global in your career while earning credits toward graduation. You can also connect with business professionals from other countries and become familiar with their cultures, lived experiences, expertise, and unique perspectives.
Outside of your MBA program, consider honing your global knowledge by attending conferences and networking events. You may learn about business concerns around the world in preparation for your own career.
3. Cultivate Transferable Skills
Job site Indeed defined transferable skills as those that are useful to employees across various jobs and industries. This includes a mix of soft and hard skills that an MBA program can help you refine.
Through discussions and collaboration with your cohort, you will develop these in-demand soft skills:
- Emotional intelligence
As an MBA student, you will also complete practical and relevant assignments that can help you perfect these hard skills employers desire:
- Analytical reasoning
- Network security
- Programming languages
- Project management
- SEO/SEM marketing
If you’re pursuing an MBA in hopes of changing your career, it’s important to have these transferable skills to position your experience. You can highlight these capabilities on resumes and during interviews.
Of course, the MBA concentration you choose may also influence which skills are the most important to cultivate. For instance, a career in finance will require serious accounting expertise, while a marketer may emphasize their skills with search engine optimization. An MBA program will ensure you hone the most important interpersonal and technical expertise — such as leadership skills — that every position requires, as well as the ones unique to your concentration.
4. Benefit from Real-World Case Studies
One of the most compelling elements of a well-designed MBA program is the way lectures and independent study are interspersed with case studies and examples based in the real corporate world. Faculty members with connections and experience as business leaders can provide insights into the way these situations have played out in the recent past, and let you and your fellow students develop realistic solutions to authentic problems.
No amount of studying theory can take the place of actually developing a strategy that will resolve a problem, and by working through these exercises and projects, you can get a real feeling for what it takes to be a business leader. The fact that the business world changes so often means that these examples are at their best when they are of the moment, allowing you to discover what types of tactics get results today, and what tools are available for decision-makers at the highest levels.
The capstone project at the end of an MBA program can be the most extreme example of this real-world education in action. By presenting a fully fleshed-out solution to a business problem, you can demonstrate to both professors and yourself that you have what it takes to lead a company to success. The decision-making skills and knowledge of specific corporate strategies necessary to complete this type of experience can go with you into your career, as can the confidence that comes with completing an ambitious project.
5. Gain Credibility for Your Career
When you earn your MBA, it shows employers that you have a deeper understanding of the business world. It exhibits your comprehension of the challenges facing modern organizational leaders and that you are able to mitigate risks by making the best decisions for the company.
With credibility for your career also comes confidence. You know you have the skills employers are looking for and can market yourself accordingly. Immersion in an MBA program has also given you the time for personal reflection and growth. You have the unique opportunity to learn and reflect on your business concentration while earning your advanced degree.
What you learned during your MBA journey is what is most important to employers, as it shows commitment and passion for your career. Gaining new knowledge and self-awareness builds your ability to confidently take on new challenges, both in classwork and your professional role. These opportunities will earn you further experience and expertise in a self-reinforcing cycle.
When Should You Get Your MBA?
Whether you have a business background and want to work your way up or you’re new to business education and hope to eventually advance into a management role, an MBA may be right for you. With the many benefits of an MBA, you may be wondering when the best time to pursue advanced education will be. The fact is that you can attend a full-time MBA program at any age or time after receiving your undergraduate degree.
Due to the flexible nature of when in their careers people seek out MBA degrees, it’s common to attend classes in a 100% online model. This opens up more opportunities regarding both start times and the scheduling of individual classes. By choosing when in the year to start learning, how many courses to take in a semester, and where those lessons fit into your personal schedule, you can balance these classes with your full-time job and add to your skills, no matter how long you’ve been in the working world.
If you are working your way up through the corporate ranks and want to begin learning lessons that could take your skills to another level, that is the right time to enter an MBA program. Since MBA studies are so closely focused on career advancement and practical business experience, you may find that instead of spending time on standardized tests, you will need to submit a resume and professional letters of recommendation with your application. It is important to do your homework when selecting a graduate program, as not all MBA programs are equal in quality.
What Makes a Great MBA Program?
An MBA program is defined by the people who create it. Washington State University’s Online Master of Business Administration program has been crafted by an expert faculty dedicated to delivering the same high-quality experience received by on-campus WSU students, coupled with the added flexibility of online learning. The Carson College of Business at WSU is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, and the Online MBA program is in the top 10% of U.S. News & World Report’s MBA rankings.
As part of the effort to deliver a campus-quality education to online students, the Online MBA program enables students to engage with their fellow Cougar MBA students and alumni. This community can be pivotal in welcoming you into the higher levels of the business world. The expert-crafted curriculum is designed to be completed in as few as 22 to 29 months, with courses that are flexible enough to fit into your schedule. These courses are created to reflect conditions in corporate operations today. Through real-world examples, you’ll see what executive decision-making is really like, and learn how to work with your colleagues to thrive in these scenarios.
When deciding to attend business school for an MBA, keep in mind the hidden benefits that can help make you a better decision-maker and enhance your earning power. Learn more about the benefits of an MBA at WSU today by reaching out to an enrollment advisor.