MBA: What the latest surveys reveal
Entrepreneurs sell items in the marketplace during The Tory Burch Foundation 2018 Embrace Ambition Summit at Alice Tully Hall on April 24, 2018 in New York City. Source: AFP/Slaven Vlasic

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is possibly the most well-known business studies course today. But while its acronym consists only of three snappy letters, the decision on whether to apply to one is far from snappy.

With student debt and tuition fee rising, and financial support from employers declining, finance is a big obstacle to many interested candidates. Other factors, like return on investment, teaching methods, etc matter too.

So what’s the status of MBAs today? To help you get a better idea, we summarised what the latest surveys found about this postgraduate degree:

You’ll need to borrow at least US$100,000 to finance your MBA

Close half of students at the best business schools in the world are taking on at least US$100,000 to finance their MBAs, according to a survey of more than 10,000 MBA graduates from the class of 2018 at 126 schools around the world. The Bloomberg Businessweek survey published June this year found four top B-schools where nearly 40 percent of students took on six-figure debts: Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, SC Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, and Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Is the debt too heavy? It depends, the data found. Median starting pay are between US$80,000 and US$140,000 at all the schools surveyed where at least 20 percent of students reported borrowing six-figure sums.

High rankings don’t equal satisfied MBA candidates

When it comes to inspiring instructors, or encouraging students to pursue ethical careers, or having healthy competition among students – all these do not de facto belong to the top-ranked B-schools, another Bloomberg Businessweek survey found. When it comes to inspirational teachers, smaller institutions like the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University that shine. The latter has the highest satisfaction rate for treating “an ethical career as the way to do business, not a way to avoid getting caught”. Competition that isn’t hostile among students was most reported at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

MBA rankings do little to convince its performance

A global survey by the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association found only a dismal 11 percent of students, alumni, educators and employers believed rankings reflect the performance of MBA programmes “very well”.  However, 90 percent said that rankings have “at least a fair amount of influence” on the demand for a given MBA programme.

MBA: Getting one isn’t ‘worth the cost’

How many of this year’s graduating class from the US’s top 25 B-schools are poised to rake in salaries of US$100,000 or more? That’s the question asked by an annual survey from Training the Street, a professional education programme. The answer: Only slightly more than half (55 percent) have received such job offers. It’s a sharp drop from the 81 percent reported last year.

More have no job offers lined up this year. A third (33 percent) of MBA students – including first-year and second-year full-time students, as well as part-timers – said they have no job offers lined up.

Only 35 percent of respondents were “very optimistic” about their prospects compared to last year – when 55 percent had the same outlook, according to the reports.

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