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When To Get an MBA

Updated on June 11, 2012

"Should I get my MBA right after college or work for a few years first?"

Many students nearing college graduation struggle knowing which is a better move for their future careers. As most decisions in life, there are both benefits and drawbacks to both sides. If you are wondering when to get an MBA, this article should be able to help you make a sound decision.


The Benefits of Getting an MBA Right After College

More and more students are heading off to get an MBA immediately after college for a variety of reasons. Whether someone is used to the rigors of academic life or trying to avoid the rigors of "real life", starting the MBA after college graduation can provide many options. Several high-level executives that I have discussed this issue with mention the following reasons for completing the MBA without working first.

Already accustomed to academic life: If you are already in the groove of studying, why not get it all out of the way at once? The longer someone goes without continually improving their math and writing skills, the more refreshing will be required to catch up. By taking the MBA right after graduation it is simply adding a couple more years to college.

No family commitments: One of the most challenging things to do is study while raising a family (or so I've been told). Therefore, many people end up never going back to school after they have started a family because they don't have the time or the money to do it. By getting an MBA right away, one does not have these distractions.

Stand out in the job market: If two candidates are competing for the same job, and all other things are the same, the position will go to the MBA grad. Therefore, with some MBA programs only taking 12 months, spending an extra year can be very beneficial for the future job hunt.

Should the MBA be your next move?

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Reasons to Work Before Studying the MBA

Getting an MBA right away is not always the best choice. Some university professors and business executives suggest that it is much better to wait several years before obtaining the MBA. They have several good reasons for this.

Work experience makes the MBA more rewarding: Professors have concluded that MBA students who have worked for a while are capable of interacting in classroom discussions more fully than students who lack any work experience. This means that students have the ability to relate what they are learning to actual events in their lives. Education is usually better if you actually understand what you are studying.

Employers know studying is different than working: Many employers, though wanting highly educated individuals, also want to know that they are capable of working. An intelligent student can slack off in many areas but still pull decent grades. The working world needs people who are capable of doing more than simply sitting, listening, and regurgitating what they have heard.

Increased student loans: For someone with no current job prospects, getting an MBA may not be the best move. If getting a job without an MBA is a challenge for someone, than getting an MBA may not solve that problem - it will only increase the amount of money that must be paid back.

Working allows the student to discover what he/she enjoys: It may be possible that someone who starts out in their career quickly realizes that they have no interest in the selected field. This is not good for someone who has already invested large amounts of time and money into a degree that is no good. By working before spending more time studying, a person can know that they will enjoy the work they begin.

Making a Decision About When to Get the MBA

Ultimately, every decision about life is 100% yours to make because you are the one who will be the most effected by it. Because there are pros and cons to both sides of this discussion, it is not an easy decision to make. Ask yourself these questions to gain a better understanding as to whether or not getting the MBA now is the best choice for you.

Can I get the MBA inexpensively? If it is possible to get the degree right now for fairly cheap, that is probably a great idea.

Do I plan on starting a family in the next 5 years? If you really want an MBA and believe that you will be taking care of a family in the near future, completing that MBA now may be your only opportunity to get the degree finished.

What are my career aspirations? If you are interested in pushing yourself to the max and working your way up the corporate ladder, getting the MBA now is something to seriously consider. If you are a hardworking individual and confident that finding employment will not be a struggle, taking care of the MBA now will prevent an interruption in the middle of your career.

How does my current resume look? Do you have some great internships, during the year jobs, leadership positions, and other impressive extracurricular activities on your resume? Then getting a job after the MBA should be relatively easy for you. It shouldn't hurt your odds at finding a job if you study more now.


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    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I've heard about mini MBAs. I think it's a pretty good idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • mbanetbook profile image

      Ajay Mishra 5 years ago from Bhopal

      Mini MBA programs provides individuals with fundamentals of business concepts and practices. B-Scools have begun provding Mini MBA programs through their distance learning programs. IT's tend to be educated through MBA professors that, in a few days or perhaps a month or even it can be associated with nighttime, give a comprehensive review of the main subject areas and concepts taught throughout full-time MBA.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      A mini mba? That sounds very interesting. What exactly is that?

    • mbanetbook profile image

      Ajay Mishra 5 years ago from Bhopal

      @Rober Erich Great points and made an interesting read. If individuals are confuse about choosing MBA as career choice, one can use Mini MBA as an attempt as alternative.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      It is a tough question and also not an easy one. My daughter completed her degree in psychology and wanted to continue with Masters in clinical Psychology but changed her mind and decided to work first. Now she regretted her decision!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Great points! I think there's a lot to be said for spending at least two years working before even considering going back to school, but you make some good points on the 'start right away' front, too.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @meloncauli: There are actually some very inexpensive ways! I am getting mine for about $6000! I will write an article about that shortly.

      @leahlefler: I am certainly glad you made it through!

      @lindacee: Thanks Linda, it's true, any step up is great in this economy. Thanks for posting!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Super Hub, Robert! In this economy, any edge a new graduate can get will help them stand out in a highly competitive job market. Through the years, I have seen the benefits of getting an MBA, as a number of friends and colleagues did just that -- some doing it many years after the fact. Guess it's never too late! Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      This is an excellent article, Robert. My husband went for his MBA (an executive MBA program) long after we had started working. It was an excellent choice for us, but there were difficulties. I had both children during his MBA cycle and was working full time - he was also working full time and going to school full time. It was an exhausting 2 years! Very worth it, but there are a lot of considerations when going back to school after starting a career and family.

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 5 years ago from UK

      Very useful hub Robert and made an interesting read. Are there any cheap ways to get an MBA inexpensively?