MBA Complete – Was It Worth It?

by The Happy Rock on March 18, 2008

harvard-business-graduation.jpgThis past Sunday I handed in my final paper for my MBA degree(Marketing concentration)  at Drexel University’s Lebow College of Business. The finality is so fresh that the end of my long two and half year journey hasn’t sunk in. It is starting though…Tuesday is my normal class night and I got to stay home with my family!

The first question most people will ask is “was getting an MBA worth”? On a personal level, it was a truly great experience. One that has given my a lot of confidence, motivation, purpose, and energy.  On a business and pure learning level, I am not so sure. I think something like the Personal MBA or selected great texts from Amazon and a business mentor would have been more useful and practical.

The degree cost about $55,000 in tuition and books, but that was 100% covered by my employer. I even made money, since I sold most of my books on Amazon after the class was over. The degree also cost me time, commitment, and family sacrifice.

As for salary, it will be a while before I know.  I don’t get a single penny more from my current employer for finishing an MBA.  We will see if that changes in the future.

One article suggests that

According to one salary guide, an MBA is worth about $10-30,000 a year over a bachelor’s degree, but the salary increase you could see may be much less — or much more. Factors that can affect your salary include:


  • whether you stay with your current employer or seek a job with a new employer.
  • the amount of relevant experience you have for the job you are seeking.
  • the reputation of the graduate school you attended.
  • the type of job you are seeking — and the level of supply/demand for workers.
  • the industries where you are seeking a job.
  • the location of the jobs you are seeking.

A fellow blogger with an MBA, FMF @ Free Money Finance, reported that he almost doubled his salary in 5 years during the 90’s. I have no doubt that I might see similar returns.

All in all, I am glad to be done, but it was a great experience.

[Update 6/2011] – I am still with the same employer and haven’t received any direct raises because of my MBA.  I have gotten a few years of better rankings and raises that are almost a direct result of the confidence and business acumen that was cultivated during my MBA journey.  I would estimate a $3,000 – $5,000 direct return on my MBA investment so far.  I also have a few other endeavors in the pipeline  were shaped by my experience of getting an MBA which could prove lucrative.  The actual knowledge I gathered in my MBA is not helping me very much.  I have learned much more from a few keys books and my interest in Lean Startups.

Quote Source: Quint Careers
Note: Picture is not me, but a graduation at Harvard the most prestigious business school in the US.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue March 19, 2008 at 9:30 am

Congratulations on your Drexel degree. My family has 5 undergrad degrees from there including my father -Civil engineer, my brother MIS, my husband Electrical E, my brother in law Chem E and myself Finance and Marketing.
Congratulations on getting your free time back!


Rex March 19, 2008 at 11:07 am

I think you would have been better off (at least financially) getting a degree in professional health sciences. I’m not talking about an M.D., I’m talking about a pharmacist, nurse practitioner, physical therapist, etc. These folks are commanding $90,000-$125,000 right out of school.


The Happy Rock March 19, 2008 at 11:15 am

@Sue – Thanks. I thought Drexel was a solid school, it seems like your family feels the same way.

@Rex – The top MBA school average starting salaries are ~$125 too. For me, going into one of those fields wasn’t an option, because I don’t have any passion for them. I would take a passionate person with an MBA, rather than a dispassionate person in Medical Sciences any day.


Steven March 20, 2008 at 10:02 am

Congratulations. Of course it is worth it. Any investment in yourself is worth it.

I guess I must be an odd ball, or my mentality is still back in the sixties, but I went to college for an education and to learn how to learn. Getting a degree solely for the purpose of more money was never in the equation.

It was, and still is for me, all about the journey; never the destination.


Paul March 20, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Congrats Frank.
You are a bright guy and will do well. Don’t forget to have fun and spend time with your family.
As for the question whether it was worth it. I have a friend who does well financially but does not have a college degree. He always claims that he is financially successful and therefore does not need college education. He often compares himself to people with college education who are not as well off as he is.
It always made me wonder how far he would have gotten if he did have a college education.
No regrets


AJC @ 7million7years March 23, 2008 at 5:51 pm

It’s what you DO with the salary increase that will dictate your success; two suggestions:

1. Put aside at least 50% of any future salary increase (towards debt repayment, then towards investments).

2. Start a business part time (use your MBA to promote your writing/consulting/blogging credentials, perhaps) and put aside at least 50% of any future profits generated.


PT March 24, 2008 at 12:04 am

That’s great! All for free too. Can’t beat that. Way to go. Celebrate!


Kimberly March 27, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Congratulations on earning your MBA! I’ve looked in to Drexel’s program a bit, and I’m wondering if you took any of their online courses? If so, how were they?


The Happy Rock March 27, 2008 at 10:10 pm

@Kimberly – My degree was designed to by 50/50 in class online split. In reality it was about 60% online and 40% in class. The online classes were more convenient because I didn’t have to travel into the city one night a week, but you give up something to for that convenience. I thought that every one of the in class classes were superior with respect to how much I learned and enjoyed them. The interaction with the professor and students was extremely beneficial and enjoyable. For the online classes, there was more busy work and less real learning. Only a handful of professors truly understood what worked in an online format, and for some of the classes the material just doesn’t work well online. Knowing what I know now, I would have had a tough time shelling out my own $2500 a class for a lot of the online classes. That is just one perspective, other people might fell differently.

I will also say that having a a personal business(this website) or a work situation that I could use as topics for a lot of the papers and projects also made the learning a lot more enjoyable, practical and useful. I came out with a few great papers on marketing this website, and changing my current situation at work.


Computer Edge March 27, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Congratulations! You’ve invested much time and effort for sure. I’m glad you enjoyed it nonetheless.

For me, I prefer short, intensive courses that directly address what I need to learn to be effective in what I do and intend to do.


The Happy Rock March 27, 2008 at 10:01 pm

@Computer Edge – I tend to agree, but the choice to take on an MBA included a wide variety of factors such as cost, type of learning, motivation, respectability, and so fortth.


Jerry April 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Congratulations to you! I’ve been working on a degree myself for several years. Education isn’t insurance you’ll have a guaranteed 6 figure income and 6 figures these days doesn’t go as far as it did before but it’s a start. Going for your dreams leads to happiness and that’s what counts.



Estela June 2, 2008 at 5:34 pm

Never ask yourself if your study was worthwhile or not. Many people do not have opprtunities to study and some of them really need. But when you are so lucky doing studies then you do not realize that this is the best thing that could happen to you. So If you think your study is not value it is because you do not study as much as you can or maybe because you study for duty or obligation. Study something you like and something you know you are keen on.



The Happy Rock June 3, 2008 at 10:04 pm

@Estela – The question is so much whether studying is fruitful, but rather did you get value for the massive amount of money that it costs. My classes would have cost about $20,000 a year. I was quite lucky that it was paid by my employer, but I think I would have been frustrated to pay full price for a some of the classes because they just weren’t worth the money. I do agree with you that studying something you have passion for is key for really getting a lot out of it.


Rajeev June 30, 2008 at 3:23 am

Congrats for getting an MBA. I wish you an All the Best for an exciting career after you complete your term at your current employer.

55,000$ for tution and living expenses — Compare it with what I will be paying for my MBA at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Its around 200,000 Rs for tution fee, living expenses, cost of books and laptops all included which is around 20,000$ in purchasing power parity and 5000$ in absolute conversion. You might be laughing – Yes it’s subsidised by the Indian government. Other top private Indian B-schools cost around 800,000 Rs. The median pay package at my institute is around 1,000,000 Rs which is equivalent to 100,000$ in PPP terms.

And if you are thinking that Indian B-schools are a lesser than the ones from the developed world, you would be wrong. Our entrance exams are the toughest in the world along with rigorous group discussion and Personal interview selection procedures and acceptance ratios are mind-boggling low as 0.5% or something for top Indian B-schools compared to 8-10% for Harvard/Stanford. They dont care if you are a poet or anything damn – they get thousands of applications to fill seats with genuises from diverse backgrounds without compromising on their hard-core aptitude skills. Salaries are almost equivalent to a good US B-school when considering purchasing power parity basis of 1$=10 Rs.


The Happy Rock June 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

@Rajeev – Thanks for the information on Indian schools, I really don’t have a background to comment on anything you said, other than good luck with your MBA. For most of us in the US, I am not sure that traveling to a foreign country to study is an option. Thanks for visiting.


Brian January 28, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Thanks for the info. I’m considering getting my MBA in a couple years, but right now I’m just trying to build up as much job experience as possible. The cost is another deterrent for me. Hmm…maybe I can find a company to pay for me.


The Happy Rock January 28, 2009 at 11:46 pm

@Brian – Personally, depending on your goals the money probably won’t be worth it. Obviously a top school changes the equation a bit, but you can read better books on your own. If you want it for a salary jump it will pay off, but the learning is secondary IMO.

I am probably using about 1% of what I learned, although my growth as a person during that time was invaluable.


Surviving A Recession February 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Congratulations on getting your MBA. Me personally, I would not go back to school to get my MBA. That is just where I am in my life. I have too many other things I want to do.

I think you are right. Practical business knowledge from an industry mentor is much more valuable. You get real deal information that is immediately useable in your day to day work.


Steve Holmes March 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm

After year ago, is your opinion changed, or not?


The Happy Rock March 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm

@Steve – Good question. I still am at the same job, so my salary hasn’t changed because of my MBA. I continue to broaden my wings entrepreneurially, which is a direct result of my MBA journey though not necessarily of my MBA ‘education’.

I think personal discipline, dreams, and action management experience, might be equally if not more important that any niche learning for success.


John Smith June 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm

You should edit your article. It is rife with grammar and spelling missteps. I understand that this is a blog and I am not perfect; however, if you are writing about education and an MBA it signifies intelligence and the poor writing diminishes that expectation – especially from Drexel. Just my 2 cents.

Different subject: Congrats, I have been thinking of going to school to get an MBA – from a top tier school. I have the same dilemma: does the end justify the means, or is it worth the end value obtained from the sacrifice of time and money. Economics, we always lose something when we choose one activity over another.

Perhaps after I get my PMP I will go for it. Good luck in your future endeavors.


The Happy Rock June 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for the nudge. I did go back and re-read and even update the article, although I am sure I probably still missed a few and introduced a few more.

One the things I have learned over the years is that I am not a details guy and that things like writing and adding polish is not a value added activity for me. It often takes me twice as long as others and the results are usually mediocre. I have started tailoring my passion and my projects to better align with my skill set which has made a world of difference in the output, quality, and fulfillment.


The Happy Rock June 24, 2011 at 6:13 am

I you think you would be able to get into Wharton and are a good networker and self-starter it might be worth it from what I here though I don’t have any hard facts to back that statement up.. Otherwise, I would just go accelerated. Me personally, I would do the accelerated and be done with it.


Jonathan@Friends&Money December 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Personally my view on an MBA depends on the line of employment you are in. This can only be judged by you. I’m not convinced that MBA’s give you an edge unless of course you are looking for a senior management post.


Dan July 28, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I thought Drexel was well known more so for engineering but that has changed obviously. On the other hand, it has produced a few CEO’s.


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