MBA Programs Q&A

October 29, 2010

After looking at how to choose an MBA program and some tips on MBA programs for young professionals I thought I’d talk with a few people who had already earned an MBA degree and get their feedback.

I asked Sam from Financial Samurai, Dan at Darwin’s Money, and Neil from Vannoy Advisory Group a few questions about the value of their degree and for any tips they could share.

Business Degrees

First off, congrats to these guys for finishing their degrees!  If you’ve never looked over business school curiculum before, many MBA programs offer a core set of classes on business, finances, and management and then allow you to specialize in certain areas.  To give you a little background, here are the degrees that these guys earned.

  • Sam: MBA – Finance and Real Estate
  • Dan: MBA – Finance and Biotech Management
  • Neil: MBA – International Business

Below are the three questions I asked them and their answers for each.

1) What has been your return on investment on your degree? 

Sam – My firm paid for 80% of the bill as part of their ongoing education benefit.  If I elongated my MBA by another semester the degree would have been fully paid for.  As a result of the low cost and doing it part-time, the return was immense.  I didn’t miss out two to three years worth of salary and experience.

It is unclear whether the promotion after graduation came due to my degree, or work performance, but the MBA certainly did not hurt.  In some industries, an MBA can mean the difference between being stuck in a dead-end job, to getting elevated to a different track with more responsibility.

Dan – Professionally, I didn’t get a raise following completion, but I do believe there’s an intangible value.  Many job posting both internal and external view an MBA as a great extra, and in some cases a requirement.  I think my company also views this as a substantial investment in my career and as such, may more likely to try to “retain” me at year-ends and less apt to lay off if it’s me vs another peer at similar performance level.  Different companies tend to view an MBA as having a different value.

Neil – My original intent for pursuing an MBA was to move from financial services into another industry. So I would say I haven’t seen a big ROI since I’m still working as a financial advisor! The primary reasons I had for wanting to leave the industry was to get away from selling commission-paying investments and the ever present sales pressure.

The coursework for the MBA degree increased my business knowledge and gave me skills and confidence I needed to break away from the broker-dealer side of the industry and open my own firm. Since I’m now operating as a fee-only advisor – and able to keep my focus on “advice” rather than “sales – I would say that the return has been huge.

2) Would you do it again?

Sam – Absolutely!  There is little that is more important than education.  The more education you have, the better thinker you become.  You understand how to do things as well as piece things together in a synergistic manner.

As a graduate, you get to tap into your school’s vast alumni network which can be vital.  You can also downplay your MBA and keep it hidden if you communicate with those without an MBA and don’t believe in graduate education.

Dan – I would absolutely do it again if my company paid for it, like they did in my case.  I probably wouldn’t spend 30K-100K to do it with my own money, unless I had the means (i.e. no kids, I’d saved a ton and could quit my job and do a top program like Wharton/Harvard).

Neil – Absolutely.

3) Any tips for people considering an MBA or pursuing one?

Sam – Really try and understand years worth of post graduation job statistics eg where alumni go/are, how much a typical graduate makes after X amount of years, the top employers, and so forth. If you like or love your job and want to continue in your industry for years, see if you can get your company to pay for it.

I really don’t believe one can get enough education.  There is an endless amount of things to learn.  Apply first round and when the economic cycle is peaking so you don’t have to compete with everybody trying to get in when the economy is bad.

Dan – Do the most prestigious/toughest program you can get into/your company will pay for.  MBAs are a dime a dozen these days and a generic online degree doesn’t have the same prestige as say, a top 20 school.  It’s just not worth the time and opportunity cost if you get an MBA from a lame program.  People with top degrees won’t respect you and employers won’t really give it any additional value in their estimation.

Neil – The only thing I wish I had done was wait until I had a little more work experience before beginning my MBA. At the time I had only been out of college for a couple of years so I don’t think I got as much out of it – or was able to contribute as much to the experience of my classmates – as those students that had more professional experience.


Thanks to these guys for sharing a little insight into their experiences!  Interesting that all three said they would “Absolutely” go for their MBA if they had it to do all over again.  If you have an MBA, feel free to chime in.  Would you do it again? Any tips for future students?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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