MBA: Master of Bitterness and Anxiety

08Feb11

For the past 10 years or so, we have all been told that the MBA (Master of Business Administration) is the Holy Grail of Master’s programmes. We have been told that if we obtain it, our worlds will change; doors would be open to us that would be shut to others, we would earn higher incomes, and would be well-respected throughout the land!

And that’s just it…we were told that. All of us.

Within the last 2 years or so, more and more people have been enrolling in MBA programmes all throughout Canada. It seems as though every second person you meet has an MBA, and is probably still looking for work within the field. Companies began realising that they can offer much lower salaries to highly qualified individuals and get away with it because if one MBA grad didn’t accept, there was always another, waiting in the wings, willing to take the offer. How does that phrase go again? Oh yes…Supply and Demand. Somehow, I think that it aptly applies; the higher the number of MBA grads, the lower the number of jobs available, and (by proxy), income potential.

The MBA is no longer the graduate degree of an elite few. It was only a few years ago that those who had the drive and dedication to complete it were highly revered. Unfortunately, it has now become such a popular degree that even Facebook has offered up an online MBA programme with a partnering university. Yes, you heard me right…Facebook.

So was/is it really worth it to complete an MBA?

Well, I think the very fact that you can complete an online MBA programme through a social media venue devalues the MBA somewhat (even though I’m sure the trend will continue through other programmes). And, in regards to whether or not enrolling in an MBA programme is financially worth it, Statistics Canada stated (September, 2010): “At the graduate level, the most expensive programs were the executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) with tuition fees of $28,773, and the regular MBA program, at $21,118”. An MBA grad is immediately saddled with a debt-load greater than any other Masters level programme. Universities have certainly capitalised on student’s desires to complete the programme, but what of the employment rates of graduates from said programme?

Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto states that in 2008, 90% of their graduates found work within the first 3 months of graduating, while in 2009, only 83% of grads found work within 3 months of graduation. A 7% drop is quite significant when you think of how often we’ve been told that an MBA will open doors…I mean, shouldn’t the employment rate be rising for those graduates instead of declining?

The John Molson School of Business at Concordia University had an even lower percentage of only 77% of MBA graduates who found work 3 months after graduation. You may be thinking right now, “Yeah, but those are still pretty good odds!” Well, have you thought about what if you were a part of that 23% that graduated from Concordia and couldn’t find work and had a $21,000+ to $28,000+ loan student loan hanging over your head?

Doesn’t sound so good now, does it?

So, although you may be thinking of obtaining your MBA, it seems as though there are now many others thinking the same thing. There has been an influx of MBA grads over the past 2 years in Canada, therefore causing fewer jobs to be found (especially in this economic downturn). According to Statistics Canada, the number of degrees awarded to Business, Management, and Public Administration at the Master’s level was more than double any other number of Masters degree programmes in 2008.

Just a suggestion to those of you out there who have not yet decided on a graduate programme: explore other options.With so many Masters programmes out there (if you really feel as though you need a Masters degree), take the opportunity to check around and see what else is out there instead of just going with the flow, and winding up bitter, frustrated, and anxious…and laden with debt. If you simply seek further education, you may also look into other programmes offered at colleges or career colleges.

However, if you do decide to go for your MBA, the online programme found on Facebook just may be credible enough. After all, I hear that if you get enough of your friends to “Like” the page, you can graduate magna cum laude…

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4 Responses to “MBA: Master of Bitterness and Anxiety”

  1. After reading your comment on my last blog, I thought to see what type of writing you do. Little did I know I’d stumble upon a blog entry all about earning a business MBA becoming a dime a dozen! I believe this may be the incentive I need to change from business to English.

    • I’m glad I could help!

  2. 3 Carly

    I think if you take a borad sampling of much of the current literature (from more independant and reputable publications) very few within the field see the MBA as a cure-all for career woes. When I was researching my MBA, I certainly was not under this impression. That being said, I think you have to seriously think about what you are hoping to acheive by enrolling in a program. If you are not interested in business, and are simply looking for a “short cut” to a six figure salary, you are deluding yourself and the MBA will not be useful for you. Use common sense – very few things in life come that quickly and easily.

    As for MBA’s being a dime a dozen, it is true that the program is increasingly popular, and that many more schools are hopping on the bandwagon. As such, do your research. Schools that have been investing in the program for decades have better profs, better processes, and better contacts and alumni in industry (which matters significantly when you are out in the job market). Also, realize that a school’s reputation matters, even though you might think this is unfair. I can tell you from conversations with recruiters and professionals that programs from online universities ARE NOT VALUED by large financial, consulting, tech, retail or consumer packaged goods firms. If anything, where you get your MBA is becomming increasingly important with so many more of us in the market.

    Last, when it comes to price I think Canadians have to take a more realistic view as to the cost of higher-education. On the world stage, $30,000 in student loan based debt is peanuts, particularily if you look at the earning potential of a MBA (from a reputable institution) 5-10 years down the road.

    Personally speaking, with a liberal arts undergrad there were precious few avenues open to me in business. A commerce undergrad or MBA is prerequisite for most senior roles in large corporations. As I am ambitious and would like to one day move into a senior management role, I had to get formal business training. If you are not looking for that type of career (one that demands long-hours and certain personal sacrifices), then very carefully analyse why you are interested in an MBA.

    • Hi Carly,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The point that I was really trying to make in my posting wasn’t that one must pursue an MBA at a certain school in order to gain recognition, but that there were so many schools offering the MBA programme, and so many students desiring to enrol in the programme that there was an over-saturation in the market for MBA grads. As such, there are far few positions available, and more competition; just having an MBA does not guarantee you a job. In fact, I have met several MBA grads recently that are unemployed.

      I think it is important to keep in mind that the MBA programme was originally designed for those who have an undergraduate degree and have been in the workforce several years, as work experience used to mandatory before one was able to enrol in the programme. If one graduates with an undergraduate degree and immediately pursues an MBA, he/she will find that it will be extremely difficult to land a job as he/she will have virtually no experience.

      We must remember that an MBA is meant to go hand-in-hand with years of experience before it may be useful to one’s career objectives.

      I simply believe that, due to the sheer number of MBA grads in Canada and the lack of jobs available to them, one should begin to view other avenues of education and training that are more practical; ones that have experience built into the educational programme, such as those at colleges.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment and for dropping by!


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