The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered colleges and universities around the world, pushing advanced learning into the online realm, much to the chagrin of many students, who claim that they were at least partially going to college and paying for the in-person experience.

The quality of an online education isn’t in doubt; students can learn everything online that they can in a college setting. Roughly 13% of college students were already studying fully online all the way back in 2012, with another 13% having taken at least one course online. Those online learners reported overwhelmingly that online learning was just as effective, if not better, than in-class learning.

Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a fierce debate about the value and cost of higher education, online or off, and prompted some to question whether the college model as we know it is on its last legs. The MBA has come under particular scrutiny, given that far more students pursue degrees in business than in any other field.

Turab Musayev, who attained a full-time MBA degree from INSEAD Business School in 2006, believes an MBA is the most versatile and valuable degree a student can achieve. Far from being limited to accounting or working for finance-specific companies, MBA holders have the skills to branch out into virtually any industry they desire. But selecting the right school is becoming more important than ever.

Business Grads Can Branch Out Across Industries and Roles

According to the 2018 B-School Alumni Employment Report survey, MBA grads worked in great numbers across a wide range of industries, including products/services (20%), technology (17%), finance/accounting (15%), government/non-profit (13%), manufacturing (10%), and consulting and health care (both 9%).

Turab Musayev has parlayed his own business acumen into high-powered positions in the energy and finance fields, working for companies like BP, Marathon Oil, Merrill Lynch, and Macquarie Group over the past two decades.

Business grads’ roles within their chosen fields also vary widely, allowing them to branch out or hone in on specific roles they find rewarding as their careers progress. They include general management (24%), finance/accounting (21%), marketing/sales (18%), consulting (13%), and operations/logistics (10%).

Unlike many other degrees where you’re all but pigeon-holed into a specific industry and sometimes even a specific role within that industry, an MBA offers nearly limitless potential to work in just about any industry or role, ensuring it will never become obsolete.

MBA Holders Rise Rapidly Through the Corporate Ranks and Earn Big Bucks

Students with MBAs not only provide themselves with incredible career flexibility, but great advancement and earnings potential as well. The majority of students reported that their degree helped them advance faster than their fellow college grads, a sentiment that is echoed by Turab Musayev.

According to the 2018 survey referenced above, 72% of 2016/2017 grads were already working in mid-level (49%) or senior-level (23%) positions at companies, with a further 9% already achieving executive level or C-Suite positions within just 1-2 years.

The median salary for business school grads working in mid-level positions in the U.S tops $100,000, so the earnings potential for MBA holders is immense right out of the gates. Overall, the median salary for business grads across all levels and regions is an impressive US$115,000, which includes people working in regions with lower average salaries than in the U.S.

Looking back at grads from the 2006-2010 period, just 1% were still working in an entry-level position, while 66% had achieved senior level or greater. Needless to say, the vast majority of business grads (76%) report being satisfied or very satisfied with their career progression.

Business Grads Make Great Entrepreneurs

Learning business management skills also opens up the possibility of becoming a skilled entrepreneur who knows how to effectively launch, finance, manage, and grow a company.

About 10% of business school alumni are entrepreneurs, with the rate of entrepreneurship generally rising the further back a student’s graduation was. Over 20% of grads from 1990-1993 have become entrepreneurs since then, with many citing a desire to work for themselves after years or decades spent working for others.

Turab Musayev adds that entrepreneurship is the best outlet to unleash your own ideas and have the flexibility and freedom you want in your life, while also boosting your earnings potential (though with a great deal of accompanying financial risk).

Most entrepreneurs launched their own businesses, as opposed to buying them, with the fields of consulting, finance, and products/services being the most popular. Venture capitalists clearly respect the business acumen of these grads, as 69% of those who sought venture capital to help launch their businesses successfully received it.

While the jury is still out on some degrees, the verdict is definitive on MBAs; they stand as one of the most valuable degrees you can attain, being coveted by companies big and small, far and wide.


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