Should I Do an MBA or not and is it worth looking beyond the Top B-Schools?

To do or not to do? No, it’s not a line from any of the great pieces from Shakespeare but a real-life dilemma that many students and professionals are having in today’s time in deciding to go for an MBA or not. Looking back a decade or so getting an MBA to augment the career opportunities for a fresher or a working professional was not even considered to be a subject for discussion.

However, in the last few years, things in the real world have changed drastically. Technology, innovations, and the impact of globalization have shaped the world in a different way. The use of artificial intelligence, big data, data analytics has not only demanded different skill sets from prospective employees but also forced the education providers to redesign their courses and programs. A plethora of certificate and diploma courses have emerged to educate, train, and bridge the gap between outdated and new imperative skill sets. Hence, people are becoming more confused about whether to go for any specialized master’s program or do an MBA. 

Moreover, getting a degree is just not all. A common notion is that until one gets an offer from the top 50 MBA colleges it will certainly be a waste of time and money in respect to return on investments. Is it so?  If it is then what will happen to thousands of MBA aspirants who can’t make it to the top colleges or can’t dream to get in one of those for sheer financial commitment. An MBA degree from top notch colleges like Harvard, Stanford or Wharton can cost more than 100 thousand dollars, which is not a cup of tea for the majority.

My main motivation in writing this article is to share my knowledge and own experience and inform the readers about some hidden gems of B-Schools and couple of MBA substitute programs that one can really consider during their decision making.

Judging the right MBA program, return on investments

Not getting into the top MBA program should not be the end of the road rather it opens tens of more. The popular way of judging a good MBA is by using the salary to debt-ratio mechanism. The admission advisers frequently use this method by comparing the starting salary after graduation with the debt and the opportunity cost an MBA aspirant would bear to get that degree. Though having a brand name like Harvard or Yale would always give an immense advantage to a graduate in every aspect, like the starting salary or a better job opportunity this belief is always not true.

B-school with better return on investment than Harvard

As an example, a survey by US News found that a lesser known B-School like Hough where the tuition fees are almost one fifth of Harvard produced a return of 285 percent for a Hough MBA graduate in 2016. This number is almost double if we compare it with the average return of a Harvard MBA grad, which stood at 155 percent in 2016. However, the average starting salary for the Harvard MBA graduates were 36% higher than the Hough ones.

Options beyond the top notch and Ivy league B-schools

So, what’s next if Ivy league colleges are beyond one’s figment of imagination? Let me then introduce you to couple of lesser known B-Schools. I would start with the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (FSFM). Unlike other B-Schools the duration of the MBA program of FSFM is just for 12 months. A free German language class and a wide industry and alumni network makes it a great choice for students looking to explore MBA opportunities in Europe. With the tuition fees of 38000 euros and average salary of 65000 euros after graduation, the school qualifies as one of the hidden gems to explore. One year of MBA program and a great return on investment is what makes this B-school must on the list to explore.

New designed program- Master’s in Applied Data Science as a substitute for MBA

That’s about the MBA from FSFM but that’s not all. There is more for a student who is not sure about doing an MBA. In this age of data and analysis a great number of students are opting for specialized masters which focuses on data science but entails indispensable management courses and training to get the best out of both the worlds. Master in Applied Data Science is one such great program for aspiring students who wants to make a mark in the business world. A combination of applied machine learning, data science and business problem solving the program is designed to cater the need of today’s industries. Business savvy data scientist is the need of the hour and this program comes up with real company projects which gives students the invaluable hands-on real-world experience and a platform for immediate or future job opportunities.

Opportunities in South Korea

From Europe to far east, the next destination I would like to take you is South Korea. The country a true innovator in science and technology and a fast-growing higher education destination for international students offers some of the world’s best universities. Seoul National University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) or Sungkyunkwan University are some of the great names from Korea. However, the institute I am going to mention doesn’t feature in the coveted list of educational institutes from Korea. SolBridge International School of Business in Daejeon, South Korea is one of the hidden gems which is waiting to get explored. 

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SolBridge International School of Business (youngest AACSB accredited school), an opportunity in South Korea

SolBridge boasts of becoming the youngest institution in the world to be accredited by AACSB. It is not a mean feat by any stretch of ones’ imagination. The institute also takes pride in enrolling students from more than 60 countries in its bachelors’ and masters’ management programs. Strategically situated in the technology and innovation city of Daejeon, the school provides infinite opportunities to students by collaborating with more than 250 premiere institutes and universities from around the globe. One can start his MBA in SolBridge and can finish it in Japan, USA or in Europe.

The three things that stand out for this school is the multicultural environment it provides for the students to learn and deal with, the career development centre which leaves no stone unturned to help the graduates to score the job of their choice, and the reward through scholarships that it provides to the deserving students. SolBridge provides tuition fee scholarships to each and every student based on their grades and GPAs.

When doing an MBA from a premier school can cost a fortune, SolBridge offers as much as 100% scholarship to students based on their academic records. Though the BBA and MBA are the most sought-after programs the change in market dynamics has led the institute to come up with a new age masters’ program on marketing analytics.

MSc in Marketing Analytics, a program for graduates interested in Marketing

The MSc in Marketing Analytics is a one-year program designed for graduates with a strong interest in Marketing. This program could be a substitute for students seeking to do an MBA with a marketing major/specialization. One can become a Marketing Specialist, Market Research Analyst, Analytics Executive, Performance Marketing, Digital Marketing after graduating from this course. Being one of the best schools in East Asia in terms of return on investment SolBridge gives a choice to the students to think beyond the conventional big names.

How to plan your MBA?

It’s not about the name all the time. Though nothing can compare a Harvard or a Stanford degree one must refrain from giving the highest weightage to the brand name of the institute. By studying, working and living in three different countries excluding India, I realized the most important thing is the planning. One should first determine one’s desired discipline he/she wants to pursue in their career. The second is to evaluate the programs from different universities and choose the one which best suits them.  At last one should evaluate the return on investment one is getting after investing their time and money and sacrificing other opportunity costs.  It’s not the name which always matters a good strategy and right choice can yield greater benefits.

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