To MBA or not MBA?

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JLT8017
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To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:24 pm

Hi everyone,

I am a long time lurker but first time poster. I've been stressing out a lot over whether to pursue an MBA part-time and the decision is purely financial. With all of the financial expertise on this board as well as posters with MBA's, i'd love to get some perspective. It's important to me to get an MBA part-time so I can continue to earn a salary.

My situation:

Age - 28 years old
Work Experience - 4 Years
Current Salary - $75k
Savings - $100k (includes both retirement, taxable investments, and cash)
Debt - $0
Employment: Supply Chain Analyst for Fortune 500 company
Undergrad: Political Science degree from very non-prestigious state school

Schools i'm looking at:

Kelley School of Business (Indiana) online program - Total cost 60k
Carlson School of Business (Minnesota) - Total cost 70k

I think overall I do a good job saving. I've managed to save $100k over the last 4 years even while buying a home, getting married, and doing a little bit of traveling with my wife. This year I plan to save 50% of my gross income (66% of after tax income) to continue to build up my savings.

I am debt free and that is where my concern comes in. I'm very apprehensive to take on debt after hearing so many horror stories of others my age buried in student loans. I'm also really reluctant to spend so much of my savings on a degree. At the same time, I feel very lucky to have the job that I have now with my educational background and am nervous about how i'd fare without an advanced business degree in my field if anything ever happened with this job.

So lay it on me. Any words of wisdom from the Bogleheads?

Joe M
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Joe M » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:57 pm

No real advice here because I'm in somewhat of a similar situation as the OP. Couple of things to think about:

- What does your wife do? Does she have an income that can supplement yours while you go back to school part time?
- What do you want to do with your MBA? (For me personally I'm in a consultative role that requires me to be a generalist. I want a strong quantitative background that I'm currently not getting on the job)

You'll hear people say the the MBA is the new undergrad degree and that the job market is saturated with MBAs which diminishes their value. I'd be interested to hear recent MBA graduates' take on that.

I noticed you planned to go the online route. With MBAs, especially at the top schools (like UM and IU), the graduate network can be a huge advantage. How much of that would you lose getting your degree online?

Juniebug
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Juniebug » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:03 pm

A few thoughts:

1. What do you want to do after your MBA? Stay in the same field or change career? This is an important question, from pure financial return perspective, if you do the former, it's unlikely that this degree will generate a big ROI. If you do the latter, it will depend on what field you get into, PE, finance will generally pay more, but competitive to get in.

2. As you are looking at part time MBA, it's particular to make a career transition. For full time MBA, they are leverage summer intern as a way to launch a new career, not really an option for full time.

3. Can you get your employer to pay for some of tuition? Usually employer offers at $5k per year for educational expenses, part time usually span four calendar years which means you can get $20k from your employer.

MBA is not a guarantee for big ROI, think more broadly what you want to do with your career, what industry, how far you want to climb the corporate ladder. Don't do it purely for the ROI, you may be disappointed.

dickenjb
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by dickenjb » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:05 pm

Have you asked your employer whether they would pay for your MBA? Mine did.

JLT8017
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:17 pm

Joe M wrote:No real advice here because I'm in somewhat of a similar situation as the OP. Couple of things to think about:

- What does your wife do? Does she have an income that can supplement yours while you go back to school part time?
- What do you want to do with your MBA? (For me personally I'm in a consultative role that requires me to be a generalist. I want a strong quantitative background that I'm currently not getting on the job)

You'll hear people say the the MBA is the new undergrad degree and that the job market is saturated with MBAs which diminishes their value. I'd be interested to hear recent MBA graduates' take on that.

I noticed you planned to go the online route. With MBAs, especially at the top schools (like UM and IU), the graduate network can be a huge advantage. How much of that would you lose getting your degree online?
My wife works at a hospital in our area and makes $57k so that could definitely support us. We live below our means for a couple making a combined $132k with $0 debt between us.

I really just want my MBA to be able to continue to move up and grow in my current field. I feel extremely lucky to have this position with only a Poli Sci degree from a crappy school. I'd love to have a degree that offers me some security and also the ability to continue moving up the ladder in my field. A lot of job postings for my field at my skill level want an MBA and/or professional certification so I worry about my ability to find something comparable if anything ever happened with this job.

As far as the online thing goes, I've talked with a few alumni from the IU online program who say they chose that program specifically for network building. Specifically, they wanted to build a large network across the country as opposed to just the region they work in. I don't know if this is credited or not but they seemed happy with their choice.

I think my biggest concern about this whole thing is financial. I stress about spending the money, but I also stress about my current stability at my job. I find it hard to imagine:

A. Spending so much of my hard earned savings on a degree, or..
B. Saving significantly less each year in order to graduate without debt

JLT8017
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:17 pm

dickenjb wrote:Have you asked your employer whether they would pay for your MBA? Mine did.
Yes, my employer offers $5k/year in tuition assistance which is nice!

mlipps
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by mlipps » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:38 pm

My husband is working full time & also doing the full time weekend program at Purdue. The good part is this program is very affordable & generous with aid as they are trying to get it off the ground. Since it's full time, he'll be done in the usual 2 years.

My caveat is to really understand the time commitment you're signing up for. I expected him to be doing homework 2-3 days/week and maybe one day of the weekend for this program. At least this semester, it's been closer to every single night, and most of the day on weekends. Some of this is him doing homework on his own, but a lot of it is him sitting on Skype with his group and talking through everything. It's been tough; he's really tired & we do not have much quality time together. But, I keep telling myself better to do this now than in a few years when we have kids in the picture. If you can talk to some current students to understand the work load better, I think that would be a big help. Just make sure you and your spouse know what you're signing up for.

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Skinut
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Skinut » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:46 pm

I was in a similar situation as you a few years back, I work for a F500 company and was exploring 3 MBA programs in the same market as you with costs ranging from $25 - $60. The lower end of the cost scale was an accredited school with a good program, but lacking a big name, the higher end was the UofM. I do not plan on leaving my company and could not justify the ROI on the UofM, so I went with the least expensive option.

First, you need to decide what you want to get out of it? Are you looking to move to a new job outside your company or out of state? If you answered yes, I'd suggest going with the UofM for the name and network.

If you are not looking to move outside your company, I would explore some lower cost options that would allow you to get your MBA, but avoid the potential debt associated with the higher cost schools.

FWIW, I work with people who have degrees from the UofM, out of state "big" schools, and bachelors degrees from no name schools. It all comes down to how you perform. I would like to think my MBA has helped me progress, but I did not expect this going into it.

Looking back I'm glad I went through the program, I met some great people who I stay in contact with and I think it helped me develop my skills to elevate me above my peers. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

Bacchus01
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Bacchus01 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:17 pm

There was a similar thread on this not too long ago.

I strongly believe that online MBAs are a waste of money. I won't hire people with one.

ThatGuy
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by ThatGuy » Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:36 pm

It all depends on how the program is taught/tested. At of the accredited online offerings I'm aware of, the only difference is that the online students watch a video of the professor in the lecture hall giving a lecture to the on campus students. Testing is done through proctored exams, with proctors vetted by whatever school you're using. Kind of like those grad student TAs during your midterms/finals on campus.

I have a really hard time seeing how this makes these programs worth less than an on campus offering.
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Clearly_Irrational
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:38 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:There was a similar thread on this not too long ago.

I strongly believe that online MBAs are a waste of money. I won't hire people with one.
Even a school like University of Indiana that is well ranked? I understand the possible networking disadvantages but I can't imagine the program is less rigorous. He's not talking about University of Phoenix here.

Atilla
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Atilla » Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:53 pm

I have a BBA from UW Madison School of Business. Have never thought it would be helpful going back for an MBA. The vast majority of the time no one cares about your degree once you're established in your field. Unless it's a technical/professional area where particular credentials are crucial.
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stan1
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by stan1 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:50 pm

Some possibilities where online is OK:
- MBA is a checklist item for you or your employer or your field of expertise. Doesn't matter where or how you got it, it just has to be on your resume. You want to get past human or computer filters that toss out a resume if it doesn't have an MBA. Online is OK.
- Experience is what really matters. MBA might be a nice to have but not having one will not stop you from getting a job. Online is OK.
- Personal growth for familiarity with the field. Online gives you flexibility -- but you'll miss out on the personal interactions and networking.

Some possibilities where online is NOT OK:
- "Everyone else" in the company or field has B&M "Top 10" professional degrees (Wall Street, some Fortune 500 companies). "Everyone else" includes peers as well as managers. Some might call them "degree snobs". Those of us who don't have the paper quals usually look elsewhere.
- Hiring managers or companies who believe necessary advanced critical thinking skills are best learned through a rigorous B&M learning environment.
- Personal growth with a strong desire to build networks with similar professionals. Works best with a "Top 10" or a school with a geographic concentration in an area you plan to stay in for your entire career (or at least until you have solid experience on your resume). Keep in mind University of Minnesota's reputation is greater in Minnesota and surrounding states than it is in California or Florida. Harvard and Stanford are universal. Local universities (I'll give Pepperdine as an example because in Los Angeles it does have a good reputation) are likely unknown outside 100 miles from the campus.

In general, I think people who have online degrees place a higher value on them than people who have B&M degrees. If you are working with a hiring manager who has an online degree it will likely never be an issue. If you are working with a hiring manager who has a B&M degree (especially if it was expensive or hard earned) you might find some skepticism/bias against/discounting of online degrees.

For OP: I think you should take full advantage of your employers $5K/year in reimbursement (whether thats online or B&M).

kiwi123
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by kiwi123 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:45 pm

This stands out in the OP: "It's important to me to get an MBA part-time so I can continue to earn a salary". What makes you say that?

I have had several of my employees in their late 20s/early 30s ask for my advice on the general MBA topic. I think there are 2 answers:
1) Do your MBA if you need additional skills to achieve your long-term career goals e.g. if your degree is engineering but you see yourself moving into General Management an MBA will give you invaluable exposure to Finance, Management, etc.
2) If your goal is general career advancement (e.g. the next 2 levels up over the next 5 years), ask yourself if you couldn't achieve the same thing by working harder/smarter in your current role. Doing a part-time MBA will require 15+ hours per week - if you invested that time instead in your current role/career you could easily stand out and quickly advance.

Note: this is a passionate topic for me as I've seen too many people doing their MBA as a way to avoid short-term issues/frustrations with their current job (and don't forget the debt you'll accumulate!). My personal experience without an MBA has been that it's never stopped me from being successful in my career to date. This ranges from Fortune 500 to Internet/.com companies.

Bottom line is that you can be very successful in many careers (including supply management) without an MBA. If you're at the right company, imagine your reputation and advancement opportunities if you invested an additional 15hrs/week on your job vs. spending that time (and money) on your MBA! Plus, you'll have more money to invest in the short-term, no debt, and you may find that your salary increases faster in the next 5+ years without having done your MBA.

stan1
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by stan1 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:47 pm

kiwi123 wrote:This stands out in the OP: "It's important to me to get an MBA part-time so I can continue to earn a salary". What makes you say that?
I took this at face value: he does not want to stop earning a salary for 2 years while he goes to a full time MBA program.

RadAudit
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by RadAudit » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:13 pm

JLT8017 wrote:I really just want my MBA to be able to continue to move up and grow in my current field. I feel extremely lucky to have this position with only a Poli Sci degree from a crappy school. I'd love to have a degree that offers me some security and also the ability to continue moving up the ladder in my field. A lot of job postings for my field at my skill level want an MBA and/or professional certification so I worry about my ability to find something comparable if anything ever happened with this job.
Have you asked your boss - or his boss' boss - what additional degree / certification would be of benefit for the company (if any)and for your career since you want to stay in that field? Since you'll be asking the company to pick up part of the tab for this little exercise, it might be nice to ask them what they be interested in paying for. (OK, that's old fashioned as heck) It might be an illuminating conversation. If the boss says who the heck are you, that conversation might tell you something. If they suggest something that's totally out of your area of interest, that's worth something, too.

Now, this is just random musings from an old retired geezer. But, you must have something on the ball to be 28 years old, with a salary of $75k / yr and just have a Poli Sci degree from a crappy school. Somebody sees something in you or your performance.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The calvary isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.

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dmcmahon
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by dmcmahon » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:17 pm

Adding to the other posts, one question I have is whether you'd get the full benefit of the degree without classroom interaction with professors and students? And the related question, how would prospective employers view the on-line version of a degree even from a prestigious school?

stan1
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by stan1 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:34 pm

ThatGuy wrote:It all depends on how the program is taught/tested. At of the accredited online offerings I'm aware of, the only difference is that the online students watch a video of the professor in the lecture hall giving a lecture to the on campus students. Testing is done through proctored exams, with proctors vetted by whatever school you're using. Kind of like those grad student TAs during your midterms/finals on campus.

I have a really hard time seeing how this makes these programs worth less than an on campus offering.
This may be an important point. A good MBA program is very different than an undergraduate program. In a good MBA program there may be less than 50% traditional lectures (which are easy to replicate online) and may not even be many traditional tests. There are a number of approaches used in MBA programs, including derivations of the Harvard Business School Case Study methodology.

http://www.hbs.edu/mba/academic-experie ... ethod.aspx

Case-based MBA classes are very interactive with course participation often a large part of the grade (quality/relevance NOT quantity). An online course could read case studies but the most important part of the Harvard method is the group assessment and evaluation of the case that would be very hard to replicate online. A big part of the case study method is reinforcement of analytical and problem solving skills that one needs every day in business. Group projects help build interpersonal skills and I think this is where being in a group of peers who are as smart or smarter than you really helps. Peer group matters not just for networking but for challenging yourself in the program, if that's what you are looking for. Case based programs do also have lectures and experience-based curriculum as well.

I have to admit that I did a distance learning masters in management that was a cohort based program taught through videoteleconference back in 2003. I've since taken classes that use the Harvard derived methodology at several business schools (including 2 weeks at Darden) and find that it definitely is a huge plus to the learning environment. It may not be what everyone is looking for, though.
Last edited by stan1 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

generalzodschicken
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by generalzodschicken » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:56 pm

What is the specific job you are trying to get that requires an MBA? If you can't answer that, you shouldn't be getting an MBA -- unless it is from Harvard, etc., because that is just a ticket into the club.

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Watty
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Watty » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:29 pm

Employment: Supply Chain Analyst for Fortune 500 company
Undergrad: Political Science degree from very non-prestigious state school
Since you don't have an undergraduate degree in business or accounting will you need to take many required undergraduate classed too?

They may go under different names but there are also masters degrees in logistics and supply chain management that might fit in with your real world experience better than a somewhat generic MBA.

ThatGuy
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by ThatGuy » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:42 am

stan1 wrote:This may be an important point. A good MBA program is very different than an undergraduate program. In a good MBA program there may be less than 50% traditional lectures (which are easy to replicate online) and may not even be many traditional tests. There are a number of approaches used in MBA programs, including derivations of the Harvard Business School Case Study methodology.
You're right, there tends to be discussions in less scientific programs. I was thinking back to engineering grad school, in which classes consisted of the professor standing up in front and telling everyone how to derive an equation. Just like undergrad. I can see how an online philosophy class, or business case study, would not be as effective.
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde

nepats
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by nepats » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:53 am

If the MBA is going to help you move up to Management and beyond, then it's worth the investment. It doesn't sound like you want to switch fields, so doing it part time is the right choice. IMHO, the online program is a waste of money. The true value of the MBA is the network you will be build during and after the program ends. So having daily or weekly interactions with your classmates provides an instant bonding experience. Also, big part of the MBA programs is doing presentations in front of people, group study sessions etc. I went to an Executive MBA program closer to home. Would I do it the Exec program again? No, it has not helped me yet in my professional career as I am a freelance in a technology field. It has however helped many in class who work for bigger corporations in either middle management or at senior analyst positions to move up the management ladder or land new jobs.

So in summary, my recommendation is to go part time at close to home accredited university.

Andyrunner
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Andyrunner » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:14 am

Carlson is a very good school.

As far as is an MBA worth it. If you plan on staying with your company, speak to your manager. See if it is worth it. Also see if it depends on which school. Carlson is good, and will require a ton of work.

Since it sounds like your in Minnesota, look at St. Mary's University of Minnesota. They have a good program critiqued to working adults. That will be a big cost savings and might give you the same leverage to move up in your company. Not to mention that most of the instructors work in the real world, so they give real world experience and also realize that people actually have lives outside of school.

JLT8017
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:54 am

Hey everyone, OP here.

Thanks to all for the thoughts and advice.

I understand that the online MBA from IU isn't as ideal as a local in person program, but I really like it as an option due to flexibility while in the program as well as the fact that IU is closer to my hometown. I'm not originally from MN and the wife and I have had a lot of conversations about moving back to where our families are when we start our own family in a few years. This has primarily been why I have shied away from local options like Hamline, St. Thomas, or St. Mary's. I just don't think the placement or name recognition will be as good.

One thing that a poster mentioned that i'm intrigued by is a more specific Master's program. IU has an online program for a Masters in Global Supply Chain Management. Since i'm not looking to change fields or leave my company right now, this might be a great option. The total cost of the program is $35k (half the price of a Carlson MBA)

The only drawback I can see is that it's a much more narrow focus, which could limit me down the road if I ever change my mind and want to branch out.

Thoughts?

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by RadAudit » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:33 am

JLT8017 wrote:The only drawback I can see is that it's a much more narrow focus, which could limit me down the road if I ever change my mind and want to branch out.

Thoughts?
No one would be preventing you for going back to school, if you need it, after you get a Masters' in Supply Chain Mgt

Edit:

PS: After getting two degrees (undergrad and grad), I spent six years over a 10 year period picking up three additional certifications that had direct application to my job as I was bounced around from one department to another in a not so mega corp.

PPS: it was so long ago that two of the certifications later morphed in to degree programs ten + years later.
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Watty
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Watty » Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:46 pm

Masters in Global Supply Chain Management


The only drawback I can see is that it's a much more narrow focus, which could limit me down the road if I ever change my mind and want to branch out.

Thoughts?

"down the road" sounds like you talking about after you get the degree and use it for five or ten years or more. Since you are 28 you would likely be at least 40 by then (welcome to middle age :D ) and even if you get an MBA most of your experience would likely be in one industry. With the MBA and specific industry experience you might have trouble switching industries then with the MBA too.

An argument could be made that once you have some experience that the supply chain background might be more transferable if you want to take your career in a different direction since your experience would be more general applicable to other industries.

The "global" part might be a bit specific since some industries are not international but very few industries don't have major supply chain or logistics needs.

I'm not sure how the differences in the degrees would affect your chances of getting into upper management if that is the direction you want to go. They would both likely have pros and cons and what you have actually done might have a bigger impact.

mayday23
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by mayday23 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:42 am

I graduated from IU with my undergrad 15 yrs ago and am currently enrolled in an evening mba program at Northern Illinois branch campus (close to my home). When I started the program, there were 4 things that I wanted to get out of it. I’m not saying these should be your 4 things as well, but here’s mine:

1.) Networking – I’m not going to get this out of my program. Each class has a separate group of students with some overlap. I’ll probably end up developing relationships with a handful, but I was hoping to have more. Weekend programs where you have the same classmates through each class would facilitate this better. If I remember correctly, for IU you must do your 1st semester at Bloomington, then complete the remaining online. You’ll develop relationships while on campus, then up to you how that progresses online and if you keep in contact.
2.) Curriculum – Being a branch campus, it’s not the highest degree of curriculum. I have a co-worker at Northwestern and he has CIO/CFOs (of smaller companies) in his class. A lot of students in my program aren’t as far along as I am in my career with 15 years of experience as there are a lot of admin assistants, kids straight from undergrad and even a dog washer from PetSmart. Because of this, the level of depth isn’t what I had expected. With that being said, the learning is up to me and I do extra work/reading to get to the right level that I need. IU is a well respected school and I’m sure will have a strong curriculum.
3.) Cost – This was the deal breaker for me. Cost will be around $20K for my degree as opposed to Northwestern or U of Chicago which were anywhere from $60K into the 3 figures
4.) Check the box – Being able to check the box that I have a MBA for my resume.

stan1
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by stan1 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:56 am

mayday23 wrote:I graduated from IU with my undergrad 15 yrs ago and am currently enrolled in an evening mba program at Northern Illinois branch campus (close to my home). When I started the program, there were 4 things that I wanted to get out of it. I’m not saying these should be your 4 things as well, but here’s mine:

1.) Networking – I’m not going to get this out of my program. Each class has a separate group of students with some overlap. I’ll probably end up developing relationships with a handful, but I was hoping to have more. Weekend programs where you have the same classmates through each class would facilitate this better. If I remember correctly, for IU you must do your 1st semester at Bloomington, then complete the remaining online. You’ll develop relationships while on campus, then up to you how that progresses online and if you keep in contact.
2.) Curriculum – Being a branch campus, it’s not the highest degree of curriculum. I have a co-worker at Northwestern and he has CIO/CFOs (of smaller companies) in his class. A lot of students in my program aren’t as far along as I am in my career with 15 years of experience as there are a lot of admin assistants, kids straight from undergrad and even a dog washer from PetSmart. Because of this, the level of depth isn’t what I had expected. With that being said, the learning is up to me and I do extra work/reading to get to the right level that I need. IU is a well respected school and I’m sure will have a strong curriculum.
3.) Cost – This was the deal breaker for me. Cost will be around $20K for my degree as opposed to Northwestern or U of Chicago which were anywhere from $60K into the 3 figures
4.) Check the box – Being able to check the box that I have a MBA for my resume.
Thanks for posting, I think these are great observations from someone currently in a program to help folks figure out what they want to get out of an MBA (and support what some of us who got our management degrees years ago have posted).

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Nowizard » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:26 pm

Kelley is an excellent school, as you know, often being rated #1 in terms of teacher involvement with students, though I am not certain whether you are planning an on-line MBA (or whether they offer one for that matter). A son graduated from Kelley, thought the teachers and coursework were extremely beneficial, was about your age and with a similar salary beforehand. He changed jobs and upped income by more than 40% initially, not counting bonuses. A $25K+ increase the first year will help pay for the cost rapidly if you have the same experience. On the other hand, there are definitely questions about the value of an MBA from schools not in the top tier, and it goes without saying that the for profit, on-line schools, will give you very little more than a piece of paper. I don't mean this comment disparagingly but was ignorant about how important the school attended really is. Many would say the primary benefit of a top level MBA school lies in the networking as much, or nearly so, as the coursework when compared to lower level programs.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:32 am

Bumping this thread.

I've decided I am going to pursue my MBA. I've applied and been accepted to 2 programs and would love advice on which one to attend:

IU Kelley Direct Online MBA: $60k total cost, places well across midwest
University of Cincinnati Online MBA: $30k total cost, places well in Ohio

My wife and I have decided to relocate back to the Cincinnati area in a few years so the UC online MBA is a low cost option that could be a great fit. IU's still places well in Cincy, but costs $30k more and would mean higher debt levels. I'm very intrigued by UC because I could keep debt low and still get a strong regional MBA for when we relocate. I'm just not sure if the $30k difference is worth it for the IU name...

Kelley rank - 20th
UC Rank - 60th

Thanks!

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by BW1985 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:32 pm

Is your company helping with tuition?

I would go the least expensive route. Unless you're going to a top tier school like Harvard, Columbia, NYU, etc. I don't think it matters what school the MBA is from. It's more of a box check from an employer standpoint. I'd have a hard time justifying 30K more in tuition in perceived benefit.
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by slug » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:40 pm

Congratulations on your admission. Are those rankings for their full-time program or the online version. Regardless, I would not pursue UC. Kelley as a whole has a good reputation. I don't know their online program, but one can assume it's probably good. That name will give you clout as you move forward. If I see a resume from someone outside of a top 20 school, I'm definitely thinking differently about that person as a potential hire, than someone from the top 20. To some degree the online programs are looked down upon. If you combine that with a low ranked program, you're really not doing yourself justice in obtaining the credential. My estimation is that the ROI on Kelley will exceed UC in the long-term, and you are in a position to absorb the cost differential.
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by bungalow10 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:54 pm

Congratulations on your admission! To those that don't understand or appreciate online MBAs, they probably aren't familiar with the collaboration tools available online today, nor do they likely work for an MNC. It's amazing what gets accomplished in the business world these days by teams that work across the country or around the world - often never meeting in person.

I am also amused that people who gather online to discuss investing theory don't feel that one can get an education online.
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by investingdad » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:05 pm

I did my MBA part time at a non-prestigous, private college. My employer reimbursed full tuition as taxable income.

In my case, I was layering an MBA over an undergraduate chemical engineering degree. I did not have any specific job in mind, but more of a longer arc career path that would hopefully give me consideration for less technical and more business-y engineering roles in the future. And, honestly, part of it was that I simply missed the classroom (I was 23 when I started).

Do I use my MBA? I would say that some aspects of what I learned are useful to me today as far as having a general understanding of things like DCF, derivatives, FOREX, etc. But I will also say that simply having the MBA opened the door to where I'm currently working, and that was the goal all along.

Good Luck!

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:14 pm

Thanks to all that have responded.

My employer reinburses $5,250/year of tuition costs. This means I could knock out the program in a couple years with very little debt from UC, or significant debt from IU ($40k+).

The reason this is a tough decision is because I understand that IU has more "prestige" but i'm not sure how much I value that. I don't intend to ever become CEO. My goal is just to bolster my resume, get some job security, and have some flexibility in employment options in my field (consumer goods, supply chain). The Cincinnati area has some great options with regards to this as they are home to P&G, Kroger, and several other local vendors that supply Kroger.

Again, all of our family and friends are in Southwest Ohio so we plan to relocate back there in a few years. Am I fine to go with UC and save some $ or am I making a huge mistake by passing up the "prestige"??

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:19 pm

I don't see the value prop with MBAs in many scenarios, especially when they're not from Wharton, Sloan, Kellogg, etc. You mentioned you wanted your MBA to continue to move up at your current employer. Do you have a mentor or sponsor in the organization? What did they tell you to do? If you're considering a jump to another employer - do the job openings require an MBA?

I just think there has to be more thought behind spending ~$60k for an MBA then continuing to move up. Did you know over half of the CEO's of the Fortune 500 didn't get an MBA? Food for thought.
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by WannabeAdvisor » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:55 pm

I have an MBA from a less prestigious program and while I am still relatively new to the work force it doesn't sound like you'd be missing much by passing on IU. My experience in looking for a job coming out of the program was that schools have certain relationships with different employers and if your ultimate goal is to work in Cincinnati I'd imagine that the major employers in the area would have a relationship with Cincinnati. You should be able to research where recent graduates have gone and which companies sponsor different events with the MBA program. Though while a school may have a relationship with an employer many of my classmates leveraged their own personal networks to land jobs. Maybe that is different with a school like IU.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:19 pm

80% of the value of a "name" school is the job it helps you get immediately upon graduation. After that, every other job you get will be based on the last job you had--nobody will care what school you went to as long as you can check the MBA box.

Is your plan to leverage the MBA to get a new job upon graduation? If not, I'd say you should go to the cheapest option available.

If you do plan to leverage the MBA to get a new job, then I think you have to decide how much advantage Kelley will give you vs UC, and whether that's worth the extra money.

I wouldn't get tripped up on education quality and networking. IMHO, those shouldn't be the drivers of the decision.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by sls239 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:50 pm

Is the area / industry you work in well represented in Cincinnati?

There's networking in general, and then there's networking with people who really know your industry.

For example the University of Texas programs are crawling with people in the tech industry, but no so much the steel industry, kwim?
Last edited by sls239 on Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by munemaker » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:50 pm

I highly recommend you go for the MBA.

I am nearing retirement age but I was in a similar situation at your age. My undergrad is in Electrical Engineering. My employer paid for the tuition to take the MBA, and other expenses were on me. I took 2 courses (6 credits) at a time, and I was required to take 36 credits to complete the program. As I remember, a minimum of 30 credits was required, and based on your educational background at the time of admission, up to 18 additional credits could be required. Depending on your background then, the course requirements for the MBA program would be between 30 and 48 credits (this probably varies by school). This was through a local not-a big-name university. I specialized in Finance because that is where the best professors were in this particular program. I remember taking an elective course in Investing; although I did not have much money to invest at the time, it proved to be very helpful later.

I have been able to progress through a series of management positions and the MBA really helped me be successful. Not only that, but it helped me tremendously in my personal life (making good financial decisions and investing). Once you understand financial principles and how the financial markets work, you are able to make better decisions.

One final comment: Some people think the day they graduate, someone in the company is going to notify them that they are assigned a new job with a big raise. It doesn't usually work like that. You have to wait for an opportunity to present itself.

Go for it!

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Hector » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:08 pm

I would not do it from financial point of view. I doubt that it would add that much value. I think after a few years of working experience, no one cares about the degree.
If you are going to an Ivu league to get full time MBA in finance, its a different story. As the probability of you getting the job in finance field with significant salary is higher.

Excluding financial point of view, if MBA is something that you want to do, then go for it. Financially you are doing great and it wont affect your family finances that much. In the worst case, you would end of working a couple more years before retiring to compensate the opportunity cost of spending $70k now.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by tibbitts » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:55 pm

XtremeSki2001 wrote:I don't see the value prop with MBAs in many scenarios, especially when they're not from Wharton, Sloan, Kellogg, etc. You mentioned you wanted your MBA to continue to move up at your current employer. Do you have a mentor or sponsor in the organization? What did they tell you to do? If you're considering a jump to another employer - do the job openings require an MBA?

I just think there has to be more thought behind spending ~$60k for an MBA then continuing to move up. Did you know over half of the CEO's of the Fortune 500 didn't get an MBA? Food for thought.
I disagree that non-prestigious MBAs aren't potentially worthwhile, and with the employer reimbursement it sounds like it would cost substantially less than $60k.

The point about CEOs isn't necessarily valid, because a lot of them rose through the ranks in a different era. Today someone in this age group is going to be competing with a generation that has, on average, more education, and the OP might be excluded completely from consideration for jobs just because everybody else in the pool has a graduate degree. It's an easy way to narrow down a pool of applicants. So while jobs might not formally require a graduate degree, actually getting one of those jobs might effectively require one.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Nestegg_User » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:21 am

Having an MBA ... but only four years of actual experience may be the key that a hiring manager would be concerned about. My spouse, when they went back years after undergrad, was largely in classes with many newly-minted undergrads (this in a B/M school) and they had a hard time adding to the content. Spouse already had decade-plus experience, was CPA, and was working in international for a firm. By the time the MBA was finished, had already gone on to another firm, and was relocated (to where we are now) to fill a regional management role for a fortune 500. All the others in the group sessions were commenting that that is what they were aspiring to.... Without the experience, though, it is hard for hiring managers to be able to make the leap of faith versus finding others that have already paved that path and made it work. (My SO currently sees many CV's and experience still trumps school in the hiring decision.)

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by JLT8017 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:40 am

OP Here. Ultimately, I will be doing the MBA. I think it's worth it both personally and professionally. The big decision points have been which school/how much to spend.

I plan to stretch the degree out a bit to 3-4 years to bank more tuition reimbursement. In the end i'll be able to get $15k - $20k covered by my employer so total cost would be:

Cincinnati - $13-18k
Indiana - $40-45k

Right now, i'm leaning hard towards Cincinnati based on significantly lower debt level and future relocation plans (the wife and I have family in Ohio). Cincinnati is a great school in it's own right. It recently shot up the rankings by 39 points (highest jump of any school) and is now ranked 60th among all full time MBA programs. Indiana is still ranked much higher ~20th place or so but I'm having a hard time justifying the incremental $30,000 based on that alone.

Thanks again. As always, opinions and suggestions encouraged!

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by BW1985 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:24 am

Good to hear. I would choose Cincinnati and put the 30k difference into your retirement funds. :moneybag
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by Shredder » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:01 pm

Maybe I have a skewed view of what the MBA is used for but I think it's more useful to get me in the door for an interview than actually getting me the job. I can sell myself - I just need to get in the door and be given a chance to prove it.

I would vote for UC. I got my employer to pay 100% of tuition costs for my online MBA. I wasn't planning on getting one honestly but for free while I had no attachments was a no-brainer.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by SDBoggled » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:29 pm

Hi,

I think this kind of decision (like not doing an MBA) might be penny wise and pound foolish, but only time and life decisions will really tell.

In your situation I would go for Kelley as the difference in cost is << 1 year of your savings and I think $30k is a small price to pay in terms of possible incremental value that you may be likely be to extract. It could easily be difference in 1 year salary by helping you land the right job.

I had an engineering degree and went back for an MBA (no specific job in mind, just resume boost/education objective)- it certainly paid for itself many times over and my last job seemed to be 100% tech + MBA requirement. In that job I also saw an MBA network (not mine) in action landing multiple jobs among my very small circle of work acquaintances.

As a great Boglehead - good luck with extracting as much value as possible.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by William4u » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:50 pm

I have a number of family and friends who have gotten MBAs from good places. They all say that the programs really pushed them intellectually, and they are much smarter now as a result.

Even if you make the same lifetime salary (all things considered), you will have more opportunities and be smarter. But you probably will make more money, even if you take into consideration the lost tuition and other lost wages (e.g., you can't take a new job in another city for a couple of years).

Go for it! But it is hard work (way harder than undergrad). You won't have much time if you are working and going to MBA school. My brother did that, and he was working crazy hard 24/7.

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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by gunn_show » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:59 pm

JLT8017 wrote:
Joe M wrote:No real advice here because I'm in somewhat of a similar situation as the OP. Couple of things to think about:

- What does your wife do? Does she have an income that can supplement yours while you go back to school part time?
- What do you want to do with your MBA? (For me personally I'm in a consultative role that requires me to be a generalist. I want a strong quantitative background that I'm currently not getting on the job)

You'll hear people say the the MBA is the new undergrad degree and that the job market is saturated with MBAs which diminishes their value. I'd be interested to hear recent MBA graduates' take on that.

I noticed you planned to go the online route. With MBAs, especially at the top schools (like UM and IU), the graduate network can be a huge advantage. How much of that would you lose getting your degree online?
My wife works at a hospital in our area and makes $57k so that could definitely support us. We live below our means for a couple making a combined $132k with $0 debt between us.

I really just want my MBA to be able to continue to move up and grow in my current field. I feel extremely lucky to have this position with only a Poli Sci degree from a crappy school. I'd love to have a degree that offers me some security and also the ability to continue moving up the ladder in my field. A lot of job postings for my field at my skill level want an MBA and/or professional certification so I worry about my ability to find something comparable if anything ever happened with this job.

As far as the online thing goes, I've talked with a few alumni from the IU online program who say they chose that program specifically for network building. Specifically, they wanted to build a large network across the country as opposed to just the region they work in. I don't know if this is credited or not but they seemed happy with their choice.

I think my biggest concern about this whole thing is financial. I stress about spending the money, but I also stress about my current stability at my job. I find it hard to imagine:

A. Spending so much of my hard earned savings on a degree, or..
B. Saving significantly less each year in order to graduate without debt
I am/was in almost identical situation when I got my MBA from state school in CA (just finished last spring '13, did it in 3 years part time by going FT the last year, I wanted to be done so badly, it is that hard and that much work)(have Journalism BA from same state school, in software sales now, needed to differentiate myself and have the MBA ammo for the future, but without debt, or paying arm and a leg, and without killing myself in the process which I almost did)

• wayyyyyy too expensive esp for online degree and no name brand. you either need to go cheap, or pay more for real name brand (USC, Dartmouth, NYU, etc). I paid $35-40k cash for my state school MBA in 3 yrs.
• your income means you can easily pay the tuition every semester out of pocket. why take a loan? a degree from either of those schools is not worth 100k, which it would approach after paying years of loans
• online gives you no "real" network, which are people you meet in class every day, grab dinner or a beer, work on projects on the weekend at coffee shop, take ski trips etc. these are all things I did in the last three years with my MBA network. those are the relationships that pay off and last forever. not some dude down the line that may have gone to the same program and you hope he gives you some preference in the hiring process.
• online degrees in my experience are junk, but YMMV, do your homework
• MBA is no guarantee, none, at all, unless your total package adds up (BA degree, experience, pedigree, MBA degree and name brand) including your field. Mainly pays off immediately in finance, consulting, specialized fields. everything else a gamble so you want to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible while still getting a good real education (IMHO).
• as others said, time commitment can be HUGE if it is a real program with real teaching and projects. my final semester almost killed me with classes and the culminating project (150 hours consulting for online SaaS startup), all while working full time. kiss weekends good bye, kiss football on sundays good bye. i sat in my office conference room doing homework and projects with classmates every sunday, it was the only time i could really focus and get it done.
• I have not changed jobs or anything because of it (did get better job over summer in software, but was due to sales performance). my best buddy, an engineer, did get hired and moved to Seattle for Amazon. So good jobs with lower-end state school degrees can be had if the rest of your resume stacks up.
• all being said, the MBA has widely broadened my knowledge, my understanding of business, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, engineering, etc because I was a Journalism undergrad and took none of that before. that is largely why I went back, to learn the basics, grow my skill set, grow my network, work on projects with other backgrounds, and have the MBA check box on my resume. and the cost made sense. For the cost if I earn $1000 more a year for 30 years it pays for itself, which I am firmly in belief it will, and I think it already has just in network and skill set alone. and my buddy is a damn good skier and we've taken some nice trips to Vail and Whistler :)
• thus to broaden your skill set I would go MBA, but if you want to sharpen your supply chain skills, go MA
• good luck, tough decision, many have posted this scenario on this board before. I tell 85% of those that ask, to NOT do it for the reasons above. every situation differs.
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Re: To MBA or not MBA?

Post by XtremeSki2001 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:20 pm

tibbitts wrote:I disagree that non-prestigious MBAs aren't potentially worthwhile, and with the employer reimbursement it sounds like it would cost substantially less than $60k.

The point about CEOs isn't necessarily valid, because a lot of them rose through the ranks in a different era. Today someone in this age group is going to be competing with a generation that has, on average, more education, and the OP might be excluded completely from consideration for jobs just because everybody else in the pool has a graduate degree. It's an easy way to narrow down a pool of applicants. So while jobs might not formally require a graduate degree, actually getting one of those jobs might effectively require one.
I agree having an MBA may open more doors for you and keep you in the top of the resume pile, but when it comes to being hired - experience will be key. Of course this varies by industry - I don't know how in-demand MBA's are within supply chain.
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