The Value of an MBA

The Value of an MBA

Sports metaphors are ubiquitous throughout the world of business.

I’ve heard Jack Welch say on more than one occasion:

“Business is a game. You want your players to be winners. And building a winning team is all about getting the best players on the field.”

In sports, like in business, you can’t rely on luck to get you the “W.” Sure there are the occasional “Hail Mary” passes that leave fans mouth agape, but more often than not, there is research, planning, strategy, and meticulous execution.

Education, specifically an MBA, reduces the reliance on the luck-factor and helps to ensure you’ve set yourself up for a win as you rise through the ranks. It helps to build confidence and skills that are necessary along with being exposed to tools that have been game- and time-tested. But these things, i.e. confidence, new and proven tools, come at a cost. There are time and financial commitments that need to be factored into any MBA decision, leaving students to ponder:

“What’s the value of an MBA?”


It’s often a question I receive from prospective students at the Jack Welch Management Institute. And it’s a smart question to ask. After all, there is a great deal of noise around if an MBA is even necessary. Some corporate officers are critical of the cost, claiming an MBA is too expensive to be valuable, that schools don’t have students’ best interests in mind, or that students can learn equally as much through hands-on experience in their career.

And those reasons might explain why the full-time MBA programs have been seeing a decrease in applicants over the past 3 years. But, the market and my personal experience at JWMI show us that prospective students are still applying, specifically to online MBA programs; in fact, demand for online MBA programs grew 7 percent since 2015.

And it is, of course, the latter as CEO of an online MBA program, which interests me the most. In response to many of the critical views mentioned above, an online MBA is often more economical, allows for students to work while they earn their MBA and in the case of a Jack Welch MBA specifically, revolves around the student and his or her success.


How to Measure MBA ROI

While MBA programs will teach you how to measure ROI, students must make these calculations before ever beginning class. Thankfully, many institutions provide statistics around ROI for their programs. For instance, based on 1,214 survey respondents among 1,281 JWMI students surveyed during the final quarter of their program between January 2015 and December 2018, 2 out of 3 MBA students at JWMI received a raise or promotion during the program. In addition, third-party surveys are also a valuable tool to review prior to making your MBA decision. And looking at salary levels, a 2015–2016 survey by U.S. News & World Report shows that graduates of online MBA programs experienced a 22 percent increase between average entering salary and average salary three months after graduation. This return shows clear value, in the form of money and growth opportunities, through skills and knowledge gained in these programs.

In addition, students should experience a return on investment that is not just monetary but includes personally-quantifiable values like confidence which expand far beyond business applications into one’s personal life. Just look at JWMI’s 2018 graduate survey as an example. Of the over 391 JWMI students that responded to our survey, 95% said their confidence as a leader grew.

Run the numbers. But know that ultimately, the value of anything, especially an MBA, comes down to you—how much you want it, how much effort you put into it, and how you apply what you get out of it. So instead of closing your eyes and throwing the football for a Hail Mary pass, plan your path to success. The ROI from an online MBA education will provide leadership skills to add to your playbook. Utilizing the right play will allow you to break through to find the open field.


This article was originally published on October 17th, 2017

Leave a Reply