What’s the Value of an MBA in Today’s Economy?

According to MBAOnline, an MBA degree is the most popular degree more so than any other graduate field for both men and women. It is number one for 22.3 percent of the men and for 11.4 percent of the women. The second most popular for men is electrical engineering at a far distant 2.8 percent. The second most popular for women is education at 5.1 percent. Approximately 300,000 students enroll in an MBA program every year, and 156,250 MBA degrees are awarded annually.

Education costs and financing

Average tuition costs for two-year MBA programs are $82,147. If you include books, housing, and other expenses, the costs can reach $120,000! Forty percent of graduate students rely on their parents for loan assistance. Those that have graduated and are on a student loan ten-year repayment plan, pay $1,300 a month after interest and fees. Approximately 20 percent of MBA graduates default on their loans.


MBA degrees used to provide much higher lifetime earnings. According to MBAOnline, lifetime earnings for those with a high school diploma averages $1.6 million, with a bachelors averages $2.3 million and with an MBA the average is $2.4 million.  There is only a $100,000 average difference between a bachelors and MBA.  This is not a large difference over a lifetime compared to the education costs.

Job opportunities

Job opportunities have also dropped significantly during our recent recession.  The proportion of MBA graduates receiving job offers were as follows:  52 percent in 2007, 58 percent in 2008, 43 percent in 2009, 22 percent in 2010 and 53 percent in 2011.

The unemployment rate was higher than average for those with MBA’s during the great recession.  It was 7 percent in 2008, 10 percent in 2009, 12 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2011.

Considering this background information, students may want to reconsider getting a MBA.  Look at the returns your education will give you in your lifetime and also the income needed to pay back the student loans.  The average amount of a student loan for an MBA is more than the lifetime income increase over a bachelor degree.   There may be as much ROI by choosing an in-demand undergraduate degree and leaving it at that.

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