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When is the right time to get an MBA?

November 13, 2019

Now or Later?

If you’ve thought about the prospect of getting a Master's in Business Administration (MBA), you’ve probably also asked yourself, when is the right time to get an MBA? The truth is, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Determining the best time to get an MBA is very personal and different for each person depending on many variables. Here are factors to consider that might help you determine if you are ready to take the next step to advancing your career.

A man with a laptop computer on his lap

You have plateaued in your current career

If you feel like you have hit a dead end and you aren’t seeing new opportunities for growth, now would be a good time to reevaluate your career goals, where you’d like to be and how you can get there.

When evaluating the real value of an MBA and whether it can help you reach your career goals, consider this: Surveys by the Graduate Management Admission Council on alumni perspectives show that the majority of business school alumni feel their graduate management education advanced their careers at a faster rate compared with peers who do not have a graduate management education. Recent alumni tend to be employed in mid-level positions (49%), while those who graduated earlier have climbed into senior, executive, or c-suite positions.

You’ll also want to consider what type of MBA will best meet your needs.  Many MBA programs like that at Creighton University allow you to customize your MBA program. For instance, you can pursue an MBA concentration in a specific area of business that will give you a competitive edge over your peers or you can take a broader approach that will arm you with the critical business skills you need to pursue a more advanced level job and become an effective and strategic business leader.

Creighton University Heider College of Business has been offering MBAs for more than 50 years. We know the skills business leaders are looking for in new MBA graduates. Our proven track record and respect among business leaders in the community will give you the critical edge you need to stand out among your peers and help you succeed in your new career path.

You haven’t reached your salary goal

If you’ve been out in the working world for several years, your salary expectations and goals have probably changed. What seemed like a decent salary five or six years ago, may not cut it anymore. You may have come to realize that reaching your salary goal may require more advanced business and leadership skills that can be obtained by getting a graduate business degree.

So is an MBA worth it in terms of salary growth? The answer is yes. Not only will an MBA place you in a higher salary level, but MBA graduates also experience a faster salary growth than those with an undergraduate degree.

Creighton graduates within the past 15 years of Creighton’s MBA program report an average annual salary that is 20 percent higher than the median annual salary for MBA graduates across the nation.

According to the 2018 GMAC survey on alumni perspectives, graduates of full-time MBA programs across the nation saw a median increase in their post-degree salaries of $40,000. Part-time MBA graduates and graduates of online MBA programs saw median increases of $30,000 and $15,000 respectively. The GMAC also reports that the average alumni of a graduate business degree achieves a full return on investment in less than four years.

Earning potential over the long term, is also significantly higher. Once MBA graduates have five to nine years of experience, they typically earn nearly $20,000 more over each of the next two decades compared to an approximate $10,000 salary increase for those with a bachelor’s in business degree.

You aren’t satisfied with your current career path

Now that you’ve been out it in the real world for several years, you may find that your current career path is no longer a good fit for you. Maybe you’ve discovered new skills and talents that need to be honed or you’re interested in pursing professional growth that will allow you to seek out more administrative level positions. So the next time you ask yourself, ‘do I need an MBA?’ consider this: whatever you’ve determined is your new career path, not only will an MBA degree give you an invaluable alumni network for years to come, it will also arm you with the skills you need to pursue those goals with the knowledge, professional know-how and confidence you need to be successful.

Creighton’s MBA curriculum is highly customizable to your background, skills and career goals. The general MBA program will provide you with a well-rounded knowledge of business and management that will focus on essential business concepts and skills that will allow you to excel as a business executive – things like critical thinking and strategic planning, powerful communication skills, project management, operations, problem-solving, negotiation, risk management, and leadership. If you already have a business degree, you can design a more advanced path that is tailored to your interests and goals.

For a more career-focused education in a specific field, the Creighton MBA program offers numerous options for MBA concentrations, graduate certificates or dual degrees that focus in areas such as business intelligence and analytics, negotiation and conflict resolution, organizational leadership, business analytics, law, healthcare management as well as more traditional fields such as finance and accounting.

You’re not sure whether you have enough time and support

When you really think about it, there’s probably never going to be the perfect time to jump in. No matter when you choose to do it, getting your MBA is going to require a substantial time and financial commitment as well as the support and understanding of family and friends. And it can give you a jump start on a new career focus that will pay off in years to come.

Your work experience drives you to ask big questions 

Much of the value gained from getting an MBA will not only come from your professors and the focused coursework, but also from the networking opportunities and knowledge you will gain from your peers who will enhance the learning environment with real-life professional experiences.

As you evaluate your career path to date, consider the quality of your work experience rather than quantity. Will you be able to actively contribute and enrich the conversation with your own knowledge and experiences? Have you formulated some firm short and long-term goals and have a solid career path in mind?

If you decide that you could benefit from working another year or two, use that time to expand your job responsibilities and business knowledge, pursue promotions and strengthen your resume. If you determine that you have reached a plateau in your career and going back to school would provide the best path to growing and advancing your career, make sure you back that reasoning with solid points in your MBA application.

While MBA programs draw a large number of applicants in their 30s, 40s and even 50s, the average age for beginning an MBA program is dropping. The average applicant age for the full-time, two-year MBA program is now 28 years old according to data collected from all the top MBA programs by MBA Crystal Ball Admission Consultants in 2018.

Creighton’s MBA program requires three to five years of professional work experience before you can submit an application. Keep in mind that MBA admissions committees are looking for candidates who have demonstrated leadership qualities, have exhibited the ability to work effectively in team-based settings and have actively progressed in their career path. However, even if you are younger, you still may be able to get into a program with less work experience if you can demonstrate drive, experiences in other areas such as internships, community service, extracurricular activities or leadership accomplishments.

Whatever you decide, remember that the right time to start an MBA really depends on when you determine that the timing is right for you. It is a very personal decision that will take discipline and commitment, but in the end, can be an invaluable stepping stone to helping you launch your career to a new level.