What Is Replacing The Dying MBA?

I received my MBA five years ago and since then, if not arguably before then, the landscape of higher business education has changed. More joint MBA programs are popping up – linking MBA curriculums with those of masters in computer science, engineering, and even creative art programs. More international programs and exchange partnerships are becoming mandatory – increasing students’ ability to work with and understand diverse teams from different parts of the world.  

Yet for employees and employers alike, the once-prestigious degree is losing/has lost its wow factor. According to a study done by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), applications to full-time MBA programs have been declining for three years in a row… and here are three reasons why:

1. An MBA doesn’t increase your salary overnight

In the long term, someone with an MBA might see increases in their annual salary as their career progresses and as they gain more experience, but chances are low that an immediate significant salary increase will happen right after getting an MBA.

And think about the costs: an MBA can be upwards of $100,000 and if you’re taking out student loans, it can take 10 years or more to pay back.

Financial ROI – not strong.

2. It’s not as rare as it once used to be

Being the only kid on the block with an MBA once gave you a competitive advantage. Now almost 200,000 students in North America over the past 10 years have an MBA. That’s a lot of kids on your block. And while an MBA gives you access to new theories and perspectives to consider in business, they often lack in providing people leadership and management experiences that replicate a work environment.  

3. You’re not guaranteed a job

The once golden career ticket that was the MBA has been taken away – requiring you to network, have prior relevant experience, and put in effort to get a job. It’s a competitive market out there, and having an MBA is losing it’s value in the eyes of employers. It’s also the one degree that employers aren’t willing to help pay for.

I’m not here to bash my fellow MBA holders nor prospective MBA students. I am here to say that there may be other ways to learn that are more cost effective and might serve you better.

Here’s what you can look into:

A) Certificate programs

If you’re looking to build a specialized skill set (data analytics, technical writing, project management, bookkeeping etc.), certificate programs from smaller colleges might just be what you’re looking for. They cost less than an MBA and you’ll get to take more focused courses on what you’re wanting to learn.

B) Non-certificate programs

If I had to put my money on the most valuable non-certificate programs, it’d be on people management, digital art (because who doesn’t love a good infographic or a visually appealing design online), or in coding.

C) Self-directed e-learning

If you’re looking for a program that’s flexible to fit your life schedule and goes at a pace you’re comfortable learning at, check out e-learning programs. Similar to our Manager Start Line online manager training program, you’ll get access to online modules, videos, and resources all of which you can finish at a pace that suits your learning style.

And remember, just because something’s free, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. The world-wide-web is filled with free content that can easily be downloaded or sent to your inbox. The question: Is it actually delivering the value you’re looking for? Putting investment behind your learning, or your team’s learning, is like saying, “I have skin in the game.” You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and at the same time, spending little to nothing on an online training program yields very low completion rates (only 7%!).

To get the most value from what you’re learning and to see that value make a difference in your performance, invest in yourself and your team. You and your people deserve to get to that finish line, so put your skin in the game, because it will always be worth it.

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Meet Matt. He is bold. He is always up for the adventure. He is your biggest fan.

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