MBA Programs. The benefits of an MBA are almost as varied as the programmes available and the students studying them. With some 100,000 graduating per year with an MBA from one of approximately 1,000 US or 550 European schools, this represents variety indeed. It is therefore not surprising that all these benefits are not fully appreciated, or that outdated ideas of benefits persist.
Traditionally, having an MBA meant that you were one of an exclusive group of highly selected students who had survived a rigorous academic programme, with a strong emphasis on quantitative and analytical skills. While you might have little or no organisational experience, you were confident in your ability to solve problems, and expected a correspondingly high salary on appointment.
It is clear from the numbers above that an MBA is no longer a mark of exclusivity. But paradoxically the massive expansion in MBA provision has, in many ways, made the qualification more attractive to employers. This is because of a shift in emphasis in MBA content, and a major change in those studying for the qualification. Both changes were pioneered primarily in the UK, where the typical student is now in their late twenties or thirties, has considerable management experience, and is more likely to be studying while working (via part-time, executive or distance learning programmes) rather than incurring the opportunity costs of full-time study. In fact, many managers are now studying UK MBA programmes from around the globe, without detriment to the quality of their student experience or the value of the qualification.
Employers no longer see MBA as standing for arrogance, ignorance of the real world and high salary demands (twenty years ago, this was a common view in Europe outside of the traditional blue-chip employers of MBAs). Instead, they see the qualification, allied to relevant experience and proven organisational achievements, as indicating flexibility, the ability to welcome rather than resist change, creativity, self-motivation, personal effectiveness, and a range of other qualities needed in the fluid organisational environments to which they are currently recruiting.
This means that one major benefit for the MBA graduate is that if they are applying for a new job, their attractiveness in terms of existing stresngths and experience will be considerably enhanced by the possession of the qualification. Note, though, that this basis will normally be important. An MBA without other attributes will today have a restricted appeal; only the 'top' schools tend to have consultancies and employers queueing up to employ their graduates, and even then relevant work experience will normally be expected.
So much for one of the historic benefits. The other benefits of traditional MBAs have perhaps been less affected by time. The confidence of knowing that you are as familiar with concepts as those trying to 'blind you with jargon' is as valid as ever, as is the ability to be constructively critical of consultants or others purveying 'solutions' to management problems. It is still important to be able to use management tools and techniques - from a basic spreadsheet to a sophisticated knowledge management tool - to communicate clearly, whether in writing or when making presentations, and to analyse a problem thoroughly before suggesting a solution. Understanding the basic functions in an organisation and the main features in the environment that impact upon it is still vital for effective strategic management. Exposure to the latest thinking in management will always be an asset.
But added to these, an MBA today is likely to give you a range of 'softer' skills and understanding. You are likely to develop your teamworking skills, to gain an understanding of why people in organisations behave as they do, and to become more aware of the problems stress can cause. You will be far better able to understand and respond effectively to the uncertainty and complexity that is a feature of organisational life in times of rapid change. You may well have developed your own creativity. Above all, you will be able to stand back from situations and 'make sense of them' in a range of different ways, reflecting different perspectives. What is more, you will learn from these 'conceptual experiments' reflecting your capacity to respond to future situations.
Those studying part-time are often surprised at the speed with which these benefits become apparent. Almost from the start of a programme, testing conceptual frameworks taught in the course against a student's own experience changes the way they see situations, thereby markedly increasing their effectiveness as managers. This unanticipated benefit of the study process is so powerful, and the promotions that follow so rapid, that possession of the letters 'MBA' may become almost irrelevant.
Other unanticipated benefits are improved time management skills (indeed, it would be hard to survive an MBA programme without these), a network of contacts that will outlast their management career, and increased motivation at work as things start to make sense. Above all, the learning and reflective habits developed will ensure that even long after graduating, those with MBAs will be outperforming those without.An MBA may no longer be an exclusive qualification for those heading for the most senior ranks of management, or a guarantee of an immediate doubling of salary. But an appropriate MBA still offers managers career and personal benefits that are likely to far outweigh any financial and personal costs.
To gain these benefits, you will need to choose your course carefully. It will need to be suited to your particular needs, and offered by a respected institution. Be warned - gaining a reputable MBA will be hard work. Beware too that it may also become addictive, and may change your life and your career in ways that you cannot envisage at the outset!
Author: Sheila Cameron, The Open University
- Why do an MBA, Diverse Opportunities, Demand for Training
- Why do an MBA? - Diverse Opportunities. Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in the UK and international MBA market. The increasing demand for training in what is now routinely accepted as the graduate management degree is in part due to the MBA's growing reputation with senior executives in the business world.
- Distance Learning MBA, Full Time Programmes at all Levels
- Distance Learning MBA. There are various approaches to learning. Full time programmes at all levels require a career break of some sort. This may be acceptable especially for short courses or where you get leave of absence but you also have to consider access, location, timing, the quality of the group and of the deliverer. Local courses may be of restricted quality and you may not be able to afford overseas courses.
- Online MBA programs, The Continuing Development of Internet Technology
- Online MBA Programs. The online MBA is a relatively new development and as such there are very few business schools that are offering an MBA program entirely online. Many online programs still require students to attend mandatory residential courses as part of their syllabus. The length and frequency of these "contact" sessions vary depending on the school and program.
- MBA Rankings, Are a Great Way for Perspective Students to Select
- MBA Rankings. MBA rankings are a great way for perspective students to select between the best business programs offered at reputable universities. With future students in mind four main sources, The Financial Times, Business Week and The Economist publish a list of universities that offer the best program to earn a Master's in Business Administration. Taking the MBA rankings into account, perspective students will have a general idea of the status and value of their future degree in the business world. When selecting a school students should be aware of these rankings, even though they are debatable since they are seen by so many hiring companies.
- MBA Rankings, Business Week and U.S. News & World Report
- MBA Rankings. The ranking of business schools has been a controversial subject for a number of years. It is only recently, however, that they have become popular with the press, publicized and generally accepted. As a matter of fact, one of the principal reasons for the rankings has been the ability of the articles to boost the circulation of the magazines.
- Full-time MBA
- A global MBA with an Asia Pacific focus. Students can choose an Asia specific track such as China, Japan or Vietnam. Hawaiiâs only AACSB accredited MBA program. The cohort format fosters teamwork and peer learning
- Full-time MBA
- The Full-time MBA is an intensive one year programme, which offers a rigorous and challenging process of personal and management development.
- Part-time MBA
- The Part-time MBA is a 3 year part-time programme, designed for those working in a wide variety of managerial, technical and professional roles.