With high projected growth for jobs over the next several years in areas such as finance, marketing and management, it is no wonder that business degrees continue to be among the most popular degrees pursued in colleges and universities. Despite their popularity, some people still raise the question: Are business degrees worth it?
Business degrees generally provide comprehensive grounding in the workings of an organisation, from finance and accounting to operations and marketing, with more specialized courses available for more specific business disciplines. One of the most popular business degrees at Masters level is the MBA or Master’s in Business Administration. From this overview comes the question of whether or not getting a business degree is really worth it or should an individual focus more on getting work experience, thus making the battle one between academic qualification and hands-on or work experience.
SEE ALSO: Master’s in Business Administration
Some would argue that experience is the main thing that employers look for in potential employees. This is quite true in a significant number of industries, as your previous experience is a good indication for hiring managers to gauge what roles you are capable of performing and whether or not you would be a right fit for the company and the job. But the demand for experience also depends quite a lot on the environment of the market you would like to work in. For example, in most Asian countries, to get into business-related positions would require at least a bachelor’s degree.
In 2014, a CBS news study reported that “27% of employers have raised their educational requirements in the past five years”. The study was participated in by more than 2,000 hiring managers, among which a significant number saw higher quality work, better communication and more revenue generated from college-educated employees.
In some cases it might be a black or white situation where only pursuing a business degree OR working and gaining experience for a period of time is possible, the argument presented as experience vs qualification might not even be necessary. With some academic institutions’ business degrees requiring (or at least encouraging) internships, practicum or job placements for a specific period such as a semester or a summer while taking your degree, it is possible to gain both experience and qualification.
Aside from gaining the academic background in business as the foundation for your future career, there are many potential upsides to achieving a business degree.
One of these is a higher expected salary. According to payscale.com, an MBA in Strategy is the 5th highest paying graduate degree, while Business & Information Technology was placed at rank number 18 in the top paying bachelor degrees. In October 2014, it was also reported in Canada that business administration degree holders were the top earners in a study conducted over a 20-year period. Another benefit would be the presence of business functions across multiple industries. Industries such as information technology, media, advertising, fast-moving consumer goods or health-care management, will require business graduates to fulfil business specific positions. This is especially worth considering if you value career flexibility.
A business degree can also help you stand out when the time to look for a job comes. This may be in the form of networking. Institutions help connect their students to professors, mentors and peers who could play important roles in an individual’s future. Most universities have career or placement services that partner with different companies or businesses for job fairs or job posting efforts.
In addition to this, the official website of GMAT also reports that the majority of students from business schools “felt they had a competitive advantage and prepared them for today’s job market.”
Another way that a business degree helps you stand out is because of the reputation of exceptional individuals who hold business degrees, of which the most popular is the MBA.
Michael Bloomberg, the founder, chief executive officer (CEO) and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, has an MBA from Harvard University. He also served as the mayor of New York City.
Other prominent figures who have an MBA from Harvard are:
Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of General Electric
James Dimon, the president, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase (who was also named CEO of the Year in 2011 and served as a director in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York).
Sheryl Sandberg, the current chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook and former Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations of Google. She has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and an MBA, both from Harvard.
Aside from these business magnates and political figures, a number of young trendsetters and innovators also hold business degrees:
Sean Rad and Justin Mateen, (albeit controversial) co-founders of the Tinder app, attended the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.
Sam Yagan, co-founder of popular sites SparkNotes and OkCupid, has an MBA from Stanford University.
Rebecca Cantieri, Will Wagner and Ross Moser of the Management Team of SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading survey platform, all hold MBA’s from different academic institutions.
With what has been discussed in this article, one thing is for sure: there are many advantages that come from having a business degree. But the question remains. Is a business degree worth it?
In a survey done by Rasmussen College, 2000 individuals who have a degree in a business-related field, 70% responded they would recommend pursuing a business degree when prompted. It took the respondents an average of three seconds to respond.
In the end, the person who has the best answer is you. Identifying your goals and priorities would be the best thing to do to figure out if pursuing a business degree would be something you would want for your future.
Are you thinking about taking a business degree? Have a look at our Business Management Degree Guide to find out more information about the courses available.
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