Why the MBA is One of the Most Popular Master’s Degree
From its humble beginnings as a four-person experiment over a century ago to today, to today, when it accounts for over a quarter of all master's degrees awarded in the US, the MBA has come a long way.
While demand for graduate business degrees tends to rise and fall based on the strength of the hiring market, the overall trend is clear. Interest in MBAs – among both job seekers and employers – has been on the rise for decades, with the MBA taking a larger share of the degrees awarded each year than is enjoyed by any other master's.
To put it in nonrelative terms, the US Department of Education reports that nearly 190,000 people received an MBA in the US in the 2013-14 academic year, the latest year for which data are available. A master's in education, which as recently as 2009-10 had been the nation's most popular master's, is now awarded to only a fifth of all master's students.
There are multiple reasons for the MBA's remarkable ascent.
For one, an MBA is viewed by degree seekers as a wise investment and a great insurance policy. Given its potential to attract promotions, raises, and new job opportunities, a graduate degree is something individuals often strive for when they want upward mobility and economic security.
From the employer's viewpoint, an advanced business degree can signal important things about a job candidate. From soft skills like discipline and self-motivation, to more tangible ones like finance and data analysis, the attributes attached to a person who has their MBA can differentiate one job candidate from another. In fact, some job openings may simply require an MBA as a prerequisite. Savvy job seekers are aware of these expectations, which in turn motivates them to seek an advanced degree.
Another reason the MBA degree is so popular is the broad applicability it has to a wide range of industries and career paths. An MBA program is designed to teach students management-level skills in a host of disciplines that are critical to public and private organizational success, including for-profit and non-profit businesses. From human resources to accounting to marketing, MBA students gain exposure to the cross-disciplinary workings of any organization. These skills don't just apply to a single type of organization or industry vertical, but many MBA programs also enable students to pursue a specialty focus area. Such specializations further develop industry credentials or functional skills that support their specific career goals.
Students who attain an MBA degree are able to pursue careers in everything from operations to investment banking to government and beyond. Employers are eager to look at MBA candidates, since they know the kinds of skills taught in a graduate business program are broad and transferable to many different arenas.
If you're thinking of going back to school – whether to widen your career options or simply to hone your current skillset – an MBA may be right for you. When you pursue this advanced degree, you join a growing network of business savvy, success-oriented individuals who also see the MBA as a key tool to accomplish their career goals.
Written by Ashford University staff
For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, please visit http://www.ashford.edu/pd/omba.