"If you don't get into a leading business school, the economic value of the degree is really quite limited"
-- Prof. Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Graduate School of Business
If you're considering getting an MBA, you're probably already convinced that the degree will advance your career. Whether it's to accelerate ladder-climbing in your current profession, or to ensure you land on your feet while engineering a career change, you expect an MBA to pay dividends -- both in the short- and long-term. Beyond the immediate post-MBA recruitment and salary increase benefit, a significant element of an MBA's longer term value is the diverse peer network within which you can cultivate relationships (with both your classmates and the broader alumni network).
And it can certainly do all that -- it's one of the most versatile and profitable educational investments one can make. By not only submitting yourself in the first place to the comprehensive selection process, but also passing all the required coursework, you signal a seriousness about your career that helps place you at the top of the minds of company recruiters and headhunters. At many companies, an MBA is already considered a minimum requirement for advancing beyond middle management.
But while most business school graduates will achieve an acceptable return on their MBA investment, it is the graduates of the top 20 MBAs who achieve -- by far -- the greatest return.
With average starting salaries of top MBA graduates typically over US$100,000, and 5-year before/after salary improvements easily exceeding 100%, it is not hard to imagine why demand for a top management education keeps increasing. Given their stringent entry requirements, top 20 business schools also offer lifelong access to a network of successful alumni who can help you throughout your post-MBA career.
If you gain entrance to a top tier school in Europe or the US, the effect on your career prospects can be particularly transformative (see the analysis provided by a US-based GMAT tutor - who incidentally scored an 800 and charges US$10,000 for private tuition - of the potential effect of an MBA on lifetime earnings potential).
In fact, most annual media rankings of business schools explicitly include average post-MBA salary increases as a major input in their ranking calculations (see the Financial Times' latest ranking here).
Yet, a top tier MBA doesn't cost much more than a less well-regarded one. This is the fact that makes the return-on-investment from a top MBA so compellingly superior.
By definition though, top tier business schools -- the ones that can claim a truly transformative effect on your career and lifetime earnings -- are few, with consequently low acceptance rates:
The inevitable consequence of:
...at top tier business schools is that getting admitted to them is very competitive indeed.
Read more about the competition you should expect here.
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