The topic of when to get an MBA comes up every once in a while with teammates; most frequently during career discussions with people asking “Should I go for an MBA?” HBR has finally acquired some stats on the topic (November 2012).
THE THINNER YOUR RÉSUMÉ, THE MORE VALUABLE YOUR MBA
People who go to business school with no prior work experience enjoy, on average, a 20% return on their degree. The figure is much lower among people who’ve already held jobs, sinking to just 2.2% for those who’ve worked for 19 years. These findings emerged from a study of thousands of students by Andrew Hussey, of the University of Memphis, who says that to potential employers, an MBA is primarily a “signalling” device and therefore adds more value when a candidate has a skimpy CV. Hussey estimates that on average, 90% of the return on an MBA comes from this signalling effect, not from knowledge gained.
The answer isn’t more clear than that economically, and I would agree that there is diminishing returns as you get older and more experienced. I personally enjoy targeted courses at this point in my career, and have been fortunate enough to attend a few fantastic courses at Queens.