There are plenty of ways to evaluate ROI on an MBA, the most obvious being to look at your potential post-MBA salary compared to where you’re at now.
There are plenty of intangibles associated with graduate business education too of course. The GMAC researchers put out a survey of bschool alumni every year to try and quantify some of them.
Here’s a graph from their 2017 report:
That’s a pretty convincing argument for the full-time two year MBA — but the EMBA is none too shabby.
It’s hard to say what factors may be contributing to the significantly lower “Outstanding” score for the Master in Management, though it’s a much smaller pool of MiM alumni that the GMAC folks would be polling, and we’d have to assume that it’s a younger cohort, too, only because a) usually people are younger when they go for an MiM compared to the MBA, and b) the MiM has only gained a foothold and become a popular educational track in more recent years. Presumably, people are more likely to see more significant value of their graduate education over time. That’s just a guess.
We’re posting this chart as one (of hopefully many) input to your process of considering options and researching programs.
The other data that jumped out for us was the online MBA numbers compared to the full-time MBA. A 25% “Outstanding” score is still pretty good, but it does pale in comparison to the full-time score of 40%.
What’s more interesting though is that when taken together, “Outstanding” + “Excellent” add up to a very impressive strong top-end performance for the online MBA, one that’s almost equivalent to that gold standard with the full-time MBA. That’s actually a bit of a surprise. The online MBA still gets a bad rap in many quarters, mostly because you by definition are sacrificing a lot of the networking opportunities, and the bonding with fellow classmates, that you naturally benefit from through the in-person on-campus experience.
Apparently it’s common for grads to speak highly of their school and their program. That makes some intuitive sense to us. After all, if you plunk down many many thousands of dollars, and devote many many hours of your life to studying corporate finance and statistics and double-entry accounting when you could be sitting on the couch with a beer, then it’s only natural that you’ll decide that it was a smart thing to do, and that the investment was worthwhile. Things would have to have been really fraught during your MBA studies for you to go completely sour-grapes and talk negatively about the experience. Most of us self-justify our biggest decisions in life to make ourselves come out as smart in our own hero story. If you dump all that time and money into something, then human nature means you’re more than likely going to say that it was worth it.
But that tendency does not explain away the extreme weighting on the positivity scale that we’re seeing here. To have so many alumni say that their graduate experience was excellent — not just good but excellent — is indeed remarkable.
Given how much less expensive, and convenient, and all around more manageable an online MBA can be, it’s a pretty big vote in favor of at least exploring it as an option for some of you. There aren’t yet many online-only programs at the Top 30 bschools but they are likely to sprout more in coming years, and the current hybrid options might be worth looking into, depending on where you’re at with your life situation and circumstances and your current motivation and priorities.
Another post on this topic here: If the main reason for getting the MBA is financial…