Is an MBA Worth It? Maybe—But It Depends on What You Want

Times are changing. It seems like just a decade ago that forgoing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) was a life sentence to mediocre career opportunities, less-than-competitive wages, and zero chances at significant job promotions.

Now? Not so much.

Sure, an MBA is still an excellent educational opportunity. However, it’s no longer the gateway to success.

Still, you might be wondering—is an MBA worth it for you?

Well, it depends.

Is an MBA Worth It?

What do you mean by worth it? Are you asking if an MBA is going to yield bigger paychecks? Do you want to know if it’s going to accelerate your career? Will an MBA lead to more life fulfillment? Does having an MBA increase your startup’s chances of survival?

Here’s what the data says:

  • Employers plan to offer new MBA hires a median starting salary of $115,000 and new bachelor’s degree hires $65,000—but that depends on your school, field, and previous experience.
  • 54% of employers say MBA graduates typically have a fast track to leadership positions
  • 68% of employers say leaders in their organizations tend to have a graduate business degree
  • 37% of recruiters don’t believe their organization values online and in-person MBA programs equally
  • 69% of MBA candidates believe that on-campus and online business degrees don’t provide the same career opportunities

Just want to make more money? Then, yes, according to the data, an MBA will help you make more money. However, you’ll also have to forgo a few years of income while taking on debt—but your increased wages will help you pay it off later. Hopefully.

Want to build your own business? You’re probably better off learning the ins and outs in the field rather than in a classroom.

Want to climb the bureaucratic ladder at a corporation that values framed diplomas over real-life skills and experience? You might be better off forking over the money and strapping yourself in for a couple of years of continued education.

Does Your Would-Be Boss Want You to Get an MBA?

Think about it. When’s the last time you heard a respected business professional or CEO say, “I learned that lesson in my MBA,” or “I’m grateful my MBA program prepared me for this.”

Ever? Maybe. Maybe not. Instead, we hear this from Elon Musk:

“I think there might be too many MBAs running companies…there should be more focus on the product or service itself, less time on board meetings, less time on financials.”

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sara Blakely, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban—all success stories who never got MBAs.

“I am not a fan of getting MBAs,” says Mark Cuban.

“There are so many online ways to learn and I think you can get far more experience in the workforce and learn more and be in a better position to succeed. [T]here are so many online MBA equivalents that if you are disciplined enough, you can do it for a lot less money and still get a quality education.”

Yet, you have others like Warren Buffett who love formal education. “If you are interested in business, or likely to be in business, an MBA is very useful,” Buffet said. Granted, he said that back in 2001—but he might have the same opinion now, too.

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Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Feel like an MBA program is right for you? What about the $55,727 to $161,810 average costs? Probably not so much.

Fortunately, there are affordable online MBA programs that don’t cost as much as your house. Here are a few of the most cost-effective online MBA programs to consider—and they’re all less than $10,000 per year:

Alternatives to an MBA

Sometimes, traditional schooling isn’t the answer. Depending on your goals, it might be better for your trajectory to jump into a career and start building experience. During this process, you’ll learn what you do and don’t know—and pursuing education can legitimately be pursuing education rather than a political play for higher salaries and better job titles.

However, as Mark Cuban said before…

“[T]here are so many online MBA equivalents that if you are disciplined enough, you can do it for a lot less money and still get a quality education.”

Here are a few of those online MBA equivalents that’ll give you the most bang for your buck:

  • Foundr+: Pay a monthly subscription fee to enjoy an entire catalog of courses covering topics ranging from management to financing to business strategy straight from the real-world professionals you know and love.
  • MasterClass: Learn business strategy from Bob Iger, communication skills from Robin Roberts, and self-made entrepreneurship from Sara Blakely with MasterClass’s monthly subscription.
  • Udemy: Pick and choose whatever business-related topics you want to learn from a vast catalog of lessons. Courses can cost anywhere from $10 to $300, but the quality can vary by that much, too.
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Foundr+: Built for Entrepreneurs by Entrepreneurs

We’re biased (of course), but we believe Foundr+ provides real-world experience that you can’t find in a traditional classroom. You’ll find lessons covering everything from Instagram growth to YouTube advertising to content marketing—and they’re taught by pros who became famous for doing it so damn well.

This isn’t watered-down education for a pretty downloadable certificate (though, you can get that, too). These are secrets of the trade you won’t find anywhere else.

Foundr+ was built for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. If you want to build a startup from the ground up or learn the skills necessary to grow a business, this is the way. Plus, it only costs $125 per month—a small fraction of what you’d be paying for an MBA program (even an online MBA program).

Don’t just take our word for it, though. See for yourself. Sign up for Foundr+ so you can learn the practical skills you need to skyrocket your career. Once you dive into the first lesson, you’ll know whether an MBA is worth it or not anymore.