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16 Feb

The Cost of NOT Earning an MBA

Cost of Not Earning an MBA

All too often, when the cost of a graduate education is discussed, it's in terms of the literal cost of the program: how much students have to pay to earn their degrees. While there's no denying that cost is important and that student debt should be carefully considered before entering into, there's also no denying that earning a degree is a worthwhile endeavor. In fact, the cost of not investing in yourself and getting an MBA could potentially be much higher than what you will pay for your degree.

Below, we've laid out some of the benefits of getting an MBA degree for you to consider.

Earnings Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average an MBA translates to about $12,000 more in salary per year. In some industries, such as in financial services, holding an MBA can mean an annual salary of upwards of 89 percent more than having a bachelor's degree alone—$170,000 vs. $90,000 annually.1

Much of the increased earnings potential comes from the fact that MBAs typically qualify for higher paying jobs than those with only a bachelor's degree. In fact, it's becoming increasingly common for job candidates to need a master's degree just to get a job; 27 percent of employers are now seeking candidates with master's degrees for positions that previously only required a bachelor's.2 Among the reasons for the demand for MBAs? Employers can expect higher quality work, improved innovation and idea generation, and better communication from MBAs. Those skills will also put you in line for more promotions, further boosting your earnings power. All told, you can expect to earn at least $500,000 more over the course of your career with an MBA.3

Closing the Gender Gap

The gender gap in pay has long been a concern, with the average female worker earning about 76 cents for every dollar a male worker earns. There are some disparities in this figure due to industry and position, but the fact remains that overall, women earn less than men.

While earning an MBA won't close the gender gap completely, it does make it smaller. Women still earn less than men over the course of their careers, but researchers attribute much of that disparity to the fact that women enter MBA programs earning less than their male counterparts.4 Immediately after completing their MBAs, men and women report similar salaries; significant earnings gaps don't typically appear until the executive level. Even then, female MBAs are still earning more than their counterparts with undergraduate degrees, and many business schools are actively working on tools to help students close the gaps, including offering more training in negotiation strategies.

Networking Benefits

Research indicates that approximately 85 percent of jobseekers land their jobs via networking.5 And while earning the MBA degree itself is beneficial to finding new opportunities, most experts note that students actually benefit more from taking advantage of the opportunities that business school presents, most notably, building a solid network with the right people both inside and outside of class. Establishing relationships with your professors and peers, as well as others in your industry, can open doors and create opportunities that you may not have otherwise accessed.

And if you are wondering how you can network in an online MBA program, William & Mary's Online MBA has you covered. The online learning system offers a number of tools to allow for collaboration and interaction, and every MBA candidate is required to attend a three-day, on-campus residency during their program. During this residency, you'll have the opportunity to meet your peers and instructors face to face, as well as engage with the Executive Partners, a select group of retired professionals who have agreed to mentor and advise William & Mary Online MBA students.

Employer Benefits

Not only are you leaving money and promotion opportunities on the table when you put off earning an MBA, you could be leaving an employer benefit on the table as well. Some MBA students receive help from their employers in paying for their degrees. The IRS allows businesses to deduct up to $8,000 on their taxes for graduate tuition, and while many don't offer the full amount to employees, even some tuition assistance can reduce the cost of your degree.6 And if your employer is willing to pay more, you are in a great position to invest in yourself without breaking the bank.

Clearly, the opportunity cost of not earning an MBA could outweigh the cost of a degree. From greater earnings and job opportunities, to the chance to expand your network and make use of an employer benefit, opting not to get your MBA might just cost you more in the long term.


To learn more about how the William & Mary Online MBA program can benefit your career and how much an MBA costs, request a brochure at the top of this page or schedule an appointment with an Admissions Advisor.


1Retrieved on January 30, 2018, from www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm
2Retrieved on January 30, 2018, from careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?ed=12%2F31%2F2016&id=pr940&sd=3%2F17%2F2016
3Retrieved on January 30, 2018, from gmac.com/market-intelligence-and-research/research-library/measuring-program-roi/2016-alumni-perspectives-survey-report.aspx
4Retrieved on January 30, 2018, from gmac.com/market-intelligence-and-research/research-library/measuring-program-roi/2016-alumni-perspectives-survey-report.aspx
5Retrieved on January 30, 2018, from linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler/
6Retrieved on January 30, 2018, from time.com/money/4353997/employers-helping-workers-pay-college-tuition/