Yes, you read that correctly. While the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular postgraduate programs for professionals, it is not always the best choice for those seeking a qualification. The MBA is considered a holistic degree that equips students with the knowledge, skills and network they need to thrive in the business world. Some of the world’s most successful leaders and innovators are MBA Alumni, giving the program a prestigious reputation. That being said, professionals should only pursue the MBA if it aligns with their goals and is applicable to their careers. If you’re considering your postgraduate options, read the below to evaluate whether you should or shouldn’t pursue an MBA.
1. It’s Not the Right Stage in Your Career
The MBA is known for shaping students into leaders by providing a challenging, but practical education. In order to relate to the content and apply theories into real-world situations, students are required to possess a certain amount of professional experience. This doesn’t mean that those early in their careers are exempt, but that they must have enough experience to draw on throughout the program. Online MBAs like AIB’s actually attracts a more mature and experienced student cohort. Business Insider suggests that if you pursue an MBA too early, “you might be slighting yourself and not getting the best experience possible”. This warning is purely for the benefit of the student, as they’ll get more out of the content when they can relate to it on a personal level. However, never fear if now isn’t the right time for you – focus on gaining the practical experience and pursue your MBA at a later date.
2. The MBA You’re Considering is not Practical
This point relates to particular MBA programs, rather than the MBA overall. There are a number of business schools whose primary focus is still theory, and this approach is now considered quite dated. The business environment is one where practical experience and advice is essential. You shouldn’t do an MBA that is impractical – you should do one that sees theory blend with practice, using every day, relevant business examples. At AIB, this is the exact approach, with programs grounded on the practical learning methodology. You should also look for schools whose teaching faculty are both academics and experienced practitioners. This ensures they refer to practical examples throughout, delivering a real-world education. Also read: Why AIB Is The Practical Business School
3. When a Specialised Masters Makes More Sense for Your Career
MBA students come from all backgrounds and roles, from pilots and bankers, to entrepreneurs and marketing managers. As a business degree, it is considered one of the few postgraduate programs that is applicable across a multitude of industries and roles. That being said, it may not be the right degree for your chosen career path – for example, if you wish to be a psychologist and require a Master of Psychology, an MBA should not be your first choice. However, there is the possibility of a ‘specialised MBA’, whereby the MBA is focused on a particular area of business, such as logistics and supply chain management. If your specialisation is somewhat aligned to business, the MBA may still be the program for you. If you are unsure, it is best to chat with a Course Advisor about your circumstances.
4. You Have Unrealistic Expectations or Goals
It is fantastic to have post-MBA goals, but it’s important to ensure that these are realistic for your level of experience and career pathway. For example, if you are early in your career and believe that the MBA is your ticket to a CEO position, you are likely to be let down and shouldn’t do an MBA simply for that reason. Education and practical experience go hand-in-hand with other necessary skills and attributes required for success in business. The MBA is certain to strengthen your competitiveness and provide essential skills for success, but this qualification will not be the only requirement to reach your goals. Try to set SMART goals – or those that are specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based – and then evaluate whether the MBA will help get you there.
5. If You’re Not Sure What Else To Do
The MBA is not an easy journey – it’s full of complex business content, assessments and challenges, and sees those with great dedication achieve the degree. If you’re at a crossroads in your career, you probably shouldn’t do an MBA if you are unsure what else to pursue. As discussed above, MBA students must have clear goals in mind, and these goals will help them to persevere to achieve the qualification. While it is okay to be unsure, it is a significant commitment to undertake the MBA, so make sure you’ve given it thought, done your research, and discussed it with your support network before enrolling.
6. Salary Enhancement is Your Only Reason
An increase in salary is a really common goal sought by MBA students, and it is a great goal to have as it signifies the desire for career progression, to increase responsibilities or be recognised for the commitment and knowledge gained from the MBA. However, if it is your only reason for pursuing the degree, you may want to think carefully about where you want it to take you. It’s no secret that the ROI potential of the MBA is huge, but you should ensure that your MBA journey is more meaningful than just money. Job satisfaction is integral to overall happiness, so it’s a really important factor to consider when deciding your future. Explore more MBA articles.
As AIB CEO, Jo has almost 20 years’ experience in senior operations and has held multiple c-suite positions at some of Australia’s most iconic companies including iSelect and Compare The Market. Jo’s academic qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in communications, complemented by an MBA completed in 2010. Connect with Jo on LinkedIn
*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.