Is it worth doing an MBA any more?

By | April 15, 2013

Bradford UniversityTo celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary next year, Bradford University School of Management is offering six MBA scholarships – worth over £17000 each – for just £2000, including both full time and part time courses. If you’re interested in applying for one of the scholarships, you can find out more information here.

But for those who aren’t lucky enough to snap up a scholarship, is an MBA still a valuable and worthwhile investment?

Barriers for international MBA students

In my recent blog on how business schools could adapt to the challenges of declining MBA numbers, I looked at some of the key challenges facing the MBA market. The immigration cap and stringent student visa policy have certainly had an impact on the number of international students able to undertake an MBA in the UK. Add to that, the prolonged global recession, which has made everyone much more frugal with investments in training and development.

Barriers for UK MBA students

For UK candidates, the squeeze on company training budgets, and indeed on household budgets too, has led many to put their plans for an MBA on hold. While in previous recessions, those who had been made redundant or taken a career break may have used their savings to do an MBA, many are delaying the decision while they save a little more, get a little more experience.

But when is the perfect time? Leave it too long and you become too settled into a career path and other responsibilities take over: very few business owners or senior executives will be able to take a career break for an MBA then step straight back into the same role but with greater earning potential.

When is the right time to do an MBA?

According to career strategy consultant, Korina Karampela, “the majority nowadays do an MBA relatively early in their career (after having three-four years of experience).” She advises undertaking an MBA SWOT analysis and having clear SMART career goals in mind when going through the decision making process. Strengths include knowledge, confidence and networking opportunities, while weaknesses include it not training you to be an expert in anything. I believe this latter point is a really important one, but not as a weakness – as a strength.

Moving from operational to strategic management with an MBA

One of the key benefits of MBAs is helping high performing operational managers take that leap to becoming a strategic senior manager/director. When I meet new MBAs they often talk about needing credibility to make that step up – and many need additional skills, particularly finance, so that they can talk the language of boardrooms.


Areej Nassar, a Brand Manager at Johnson & Johnson in Dubai, highlighted the benefits of this bigger picture in her blog about choosing an MBA that doesn’t interfere with short-term career progression:


“Doing an MBA gives you time to step back and think more deeply about business problems but also learn from others in different industries that you wouldn’t otherwise come across. …. Bradford is very good at organising group work and encouraging collaboration … which made me a more versatile and forward thinking candidate when I went for my new job.”

This broad strategic overview is not only important from a knowledge and confidence perspective, but also from an internal perception point of view. Moving from a specific business area such as HR or FM into a senior management role can bring all sorts of issues, not least the perception of credibility (and therefore influence) among your colleagues.

Tom Hulme

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In a recent FT debate about the value of MBAs, consultant Tom Hulme describes how his MBA opened up new networks and how not everyone knows where their passion lies and business school can be a way to discover new opportunities and possibilities.”

The value of an MBA for those working internationally

In the same FT article, headhunter Edward Speed also raises some important points about the value of an MBA for those wishing to work internationally in emerging markets: “MBA graduates are more likely to bring value in certain sectors and countries, and should target these. In some, an MBA remains a baseline requirement; in emerging markets, where a high value is placed on education and overseas experience, it remains an important differentiator.”


Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Much has also been made recently of whether entrepreneurialism is inherent or can be taught, and indeed there are many examples of highly successful business people who rejected an academic path to pursue their business dreams with great success, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs to name just two.

For those who don’t have that fully-fledged business idea, or the confidence to throw themselves behind their idea without the strategic knowledge to do so, an MBA is the perfect stepping stone and can open many doors in terms of useful contacts and networks to accelerate your business success.

In a previous blog, Christos Kalantaridis discusses taught entrepreneurialism and asks “Can an MBA enhance your entrepreneurial skills?” He concludes that while we can’t ensure that a new Alan Sugar will emerge among MBA graduates of Bradford University School of Management, we can “guarantee that MBA graduates from our School are creative, enterprising, trying to identify opportunities, and possess the skills needed to exploit these opportunities.”

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the value of MBAs. It is clear from the comments on my recent blog that our alumni highly value their qualification from Bradford and the opportunities it has given them.

But what about MBA students from less established business schools – is the value of an MBA in the name of the awarding institution? Or is it more a case of you get out what you put in as a student?


If you’d like to find out more about our MBA scholarships, please visit the scholarships page.

This is a fantastic one-off opportunity to make that leap without many of the usual barrier concerns over cost. Is this for you? Or for someone you know?

About Jon Reast

Jon  is a Professor in Marketing at Bradford School of Management, Research Cluster Head for Marketing and Co-Editor of the Corporate Social Responsibility Section of Journal of Business Ethics. Jon primarily teaches Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing and Marketing Communications and specializes in research relating to marketing ethics, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and relationship marketing. Professor Reast has professional marketing experience in the healthcare, toiletries, food and beverage sectors, working for companies such as Reckitt & Colman and Kraft General Foods, and has consulted widely. A graduate of Leeds University (BA Econ) and Leicester University (MBA), with a PhD from Leeds University. His research work has previously been published in journals such as Journal of Business Ethics, Psychology and Marketing, Long Range Planning, Journal of Marketing Management, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Advertising Research and International Journal of Advertising.


+        Marketing ethics
+        Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
+        Relationship marketing

4 thoughts on “Is it worth doing an MBA any more?

  1. full time global MBA

    Yes doing MBA is really worth and also provides good opportunities in the market. Anyone knows best college for full time global MBA?

  2. Ian McIntosh

    Is an MBA worth it? You bet. I did mine in 1987 at Bradford and it has paid me back many times over. For example, back then in 1987, I tripled my salary. It has opened many doors over the years. Of course, you have to generate the opportunities – they are not automatic – but if definitely gave me an edge.

  3. MBA?

    Before few years, Studying MBA added value for students. Nowadays, most of the employees have MBA ?
    So, what distinguishes this employee from others ?

    In the future, maybe we will have other courses like MBA but in a new mold. I can say: MBA is an old trendy fashion.

  4. Pingback: Top 10 blog topics for business and academics – from our own Bradford Thinking blog (part 2) | Bradford Management Thinking Blog

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