Is an MBA still worth?
I finished my MBA in 1995 in a top European school, which certainly influenced my professional path by significantly increasing my career options. It was not common for recruiters to see often such a degree in a CV, and INSEAD had a relative strong reputation in Europe by that time. I wonder if it is still the case today.
If we take a look to the latest research from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which surveyed 4,135 business school alumni who received their degrees since 2000, there is no doubt. The answer is a clear YES. But digging lightly into the data may raise some issues.
Only 86% of the MBAs of 2011 found a job right after the program – compared to 88% in 2010 – which represents an unemployment rate of 14% upon graduation. But 12% out of the 86% returned to their previous job, which leave us with an adjusted unemployment rate of 16%. Furthermore as the survey was not mandatory for all participants, and the sample was not randomized it may face issues of self-selectivity which may worsen the estimated unemployment rate even further; i.e. an unemployed alumni may be less willing to answer the survey than an employed one.
Looking into the jobs the trend is also not famous if we compare 2011 and 2010, with just 1% taking executive jobs in 2011 against 3% in 2010, 8 percent taking senior-level positions against 14% the previous year, and 21% taking entry-level jobs against just 17% in 2010.
For the top schools the numbers become better but the trend is still there. I remember that almost 100% of my promotion found jobs after the MBA experience in 1995, and most of them took senior-level positions, which nowadays is no more the case for my school.
At that time having an MBA was considered a “specialty”, clearly positively differentiating a CV for a management professional candidate. Nowadays it tends to be considered a more “commoditized” item in a good CV.
Nevertheless not having an MBA may be a not negligible handicap when competing for a job with other candidates with such a diploma, thus a negative differentiation factor. Then, compared to 1995, other academic positive differentiating factors may be more relevant today for “specialty” type CVs in the management world, like research masters and PHDs. We can then raise the following question: where will these inflationary trends in academic abilities lead the CVs of management candidates?