The pandemic has created a complex dynamic for people considering going back to school for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the one hand, earning an MBA can improve a professional's competitive advantage in turbulent job markets amidst uncertain economic conditions as the pandemic recedes. Yet, given that same economic uncertainty, many prospective students question the financial investment right now.
Choosing what type of MBA program to enroll in is another important consideration. MBA concentrations can help students develop specialized skills in their area or industry of choice. Generalized MBA programs like the fully online MBA at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offer the comprehensive study of wide-ranging leadership and management topics. This can help graduates develop broadly transferable skills, fostering flexibility and versatility in disruptive business environments.
In deciding whether to pursue an MBA or which specialization is best for you, prospective students should examine the benefits of having an MBA in the post-COVID-19 economy. Here are three important advantages to consider:
- MBA Grads Have the Skills Employers Value
One unique strength of UNCW's online MBA program is its emphasis on developing the qualities and skills today's business leaders need in any environment or industry. These include critical and strategic thinking, problem-solving and the ability to lead change and adapt to dynamic, challenging environments.
An advanced business degree will help students develop these core qualities through a myriad of studies on topics like business management, operations, information systems management, business analytics and data analytics at length, preparing them to excel and innovate in the data-driven world of modern business.
According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiter's Survey 2020, this set of skills and knowledge is precisely what employers are looking for. They value strategic thinking, versatility and breadth of business skills, technological savvy, innovation, communication and leadership qualities. Essentially, they want employees who can navigate ambiguity, uncertainty and disruption with a strategic yet creative mindset.
Recruiting professionals from Forbes Human Resources Council echoed this sentiment. They highlighted in-demand skills and attributes like versatility, adaptability, flexibility, knowledge of virtual environments and the desire to grow and continuously learn.
- Gain a Competitive Edge and a Salary Premium
Many companies had to shed much of their workforce during the pandemic. With so many out of work, there is a great deal of competition for good jobs. In post-pandemic recovery, companies are focused on hiring top talent with the strategic, agile, versatile and technologically advanced skillsets an MBA degree can impart.
A brief look at job listing sites like Monster will illustrate this. Companies looking to fill management and top-level positions often list an MBA credential as "desirable," "a plus," "preferred" or simply required.
An MBA also generally equates to a salary premium, affording professionals bargaining power in compensation negotiations. According to GMAC's survey, new hires with MBAs can earn a median base salary of $115,000 compared to $65,000 for those with a bachelor's degree.
Considering this, an affordable MBA degree can provide a substantial return on investment (ROI). Tuition and fees for North Carolina residents in UNCW's online MBA program total $15,855 — a fraction of the MBA salary premium. As a fully online program, students can continue working and earning a wage while earning their degree — and they can complete it in as few as 12 months, meaning a more rapid potential ROI than traditional, two-year MBA programs.
- Generalized MBA Studies Support Job Versatility
The wealth of transferable skills and knowledge students gain in a generalized MBA also equates to job versatility. Graduates with a generalized MBA are not limited to certain fields or industries and may have more choice and flexibility in career pursuits. Plus, this versatility means generalized MBA graduates may be better prepared for future disruptions that disproportionately affect certain industries or departmental functions.
So, can earning an MBA help your career prospects as the world recovers from the pandemic? Judging by employer preferences, the job market, ROI potential and the job versatility a generalized MBA provides, the answer is yes. Now might be the ideal time to earn an advanced business degree, positioning graduates to be effective leaders in an era of disruption, change and innovation.
Learn more about UNCW's online Master of Business Administration program.
Career Enlightenment: Why You Should Consider Getting an MBA During the Pandemic
Forbes: The Top 10 Skills Recruiters Are Looking for in 2021
MBA.com: Employers Need This Skill More than Ever During COVID-19
Monster: Why Do Companies Prefer MBAs?
The Graduate Management Admission Council: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Hiring Business School Graduates
The Princeton Review: Is It Better to Get a Specialized MBA or General MBA?
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