5 reasons why people apply for an MBA

Dec 19 2017, 1:44 pm

There are many reasons why people turn to postgraduate business education and the MBA degree, but many individual applicants find that one factor becomes pivotal in their decision-making process.

The QS Applicant Survey 2014 collates the opinions of more than 5,000 business school applicants around the world in an attempt to get to the heart of what it is that motivates them and what they’re looking to get from their MBA program.

Five of their top choices are outlined below. Which one will prove the most decisive in determining whether an MBA program is right for you?

1. Professional development & advancement

Graduating with an MBA can do wonders for your career prospects so it’s no surprise that this was cited by 64 per cent of applicants in 2014 – the top reason among those pursuing the degree.

A key selling point of the MBA is the chance to gain the knowledge and insight needed to identify and secure the type of job they really want to do – taking charge of their professional development in the process.

Indeed, graduating with an MBA is often used to effect a career change – in role, industry or location – and many people head to business school to discover new career possibilities, for example, in an area more in line with their personal values and outlook, or one that operates in a field set to take off in the years to come. Just over 40 per cent of applicants in 2014 said a career change was part of their thinking behind the MBA.

2. Acquire the skills employers are looking for

Learning new skills was the second most popular reason for wanting to undertake an MBA, cited by just over 60 per cent of applicants in 2014.

Building and developing the type of management skills that are attractive to international recruiters is fundamental to MBA programs, and many actively seek to reinforce and adapt their curricula on the back of direct feedback from employers.

Acquiring these skills will therefore put graduates at a distinct advantage when it comes to securing new roles and advancing quickly in their chosen industry.

3. Growing a professional network

When it comes to leading business schools around the world, it doesn’t matter what MBA program type you’re looking at – the student community you wind up joining is bound to be jam-packed with exceptional individuals who have working backgrounds spanning a variety of industries and locations.

The ties developed with your fellow classmates often last a lifetime, especially when it comes to cohort-based programs and – considering their high potential status on graduation – classmates represent a veritable treasure trove of professional contacts.

Of course, when you join a business school you also gain access to their entire global alumni network, which can stretch to numbers in excess of 100,000, spread across world.

Small wonder, then, that roughly 50 per cent of 2014’s applicants said that growing a professional network was an important part behind their decision to take an MBA.

4. Learn how to go it alone in business

Some people head to business school with the specific purpose of turning their business idea into a reality – and one that has the best possible chance of success.  Others get a taste for the entrepreneurial life during the program itself.

Either way, business school is a great place to discover if you have a knack for building and running a startup – and this was an important motivation for a third of applicants in 2014.

Schools are now awash with courses focused on providing budding entrepreneurs with the requisite toolkit, plus there are regular opportunities to network with potential investors and test out your business plan in startup competitions. Many even find themselves the perfect startup partner, or cofounder, during their time at business school.

5. Higher salaries

Last but by no means least, there’s simply no escaping the fact that the higher salaries commanded by MBA graduates will be a motivation for many – and this is also cited by approximately a third of applicants.

Salary is a driver largely because students need to know that what they put into the MBA, in terms of finance, will be rewarded at its end. This is referred to as the degree’s ROI (return on investment).

In the past year MBA salary levels in Canada and the US rose by over seven per cent and 13 per cent respectively to reach averages of US$87,500 and US$93,200, according to the latest QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report. With job opportunities for MBAs across North America expected to grow by nine per cent in 2015, now could be a good time to see where business school might take you.

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Feature image: Graduation cap via Shutterstock

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