Are MBAs Overrated?

London Business School

Together with the global recession in 2008, we began hearing increasingly about the value of MBAs; or rather the lack of value in getting an MBA.

Are MBAs over-rated? Are they worth the time and the investment? Does it have the same value in a recession as they do in an upturn? These questions were voiced or, more often, contemplated silently around the globe by those who were taking career-changing decisions. Just do a web search asking “Are MBAs overrated?” or “Are MBAs worth it?” and see the results.

And of course, the answers would depend on many factors including when exactly you thought of asking. This is because, what appeared to be all gloom and doom after September 2008 until the end of 2010 is now slowly changing.

Here are a couple of reports on MBA prospects that appeared in the Financial Times since the beginning of 2011.

  • Job prospects pick up for American graduates (June 15, 2011)
  • Asia: MBA jobs market lifts off (January 21, 2011)
FT’s Ask the Experts: MBA 2011 panel of experts certainly did not appear unduly downbeat about prospects for MBAs in early February 2011. The panel included Della Bradshaw, business education editor of FT, Tom Robertson, dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Fiona Sandford, director of career services at London Business School, Thomas Gatley, an MBA student at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, Beijing, and Chioma Isiadinso, chief executive of Expartus, the admissions consultancy and personal branding organisation who had previously worked in the admissions departments at both Harvard Business School and Carnegie Mellon University. Wharton and London Business School shared the number one spot in the Financial Times 2011 Global MBA rankings.

Then again, most of these panelists have lived through more than one downturn that were following with periods of growth and prosperity. These questions about the value of MBAs keep popping up in each business cycle, without fail.

Now that things are beginning to improve, at least in statistics, and in a manner people feel in a few places around the globe, the intensity with which the value of MBAs are questioned will slowly recede.

So what do you think? We are asking you—recent MBA classes, those who are contemplating doing an MBA and those who have lived with an MBA through a couple of downturns and upturns. The views of those from MBA classes of five to ten years ago can provide great insights for new graduates and for MBA hopefuls.

Do you think an MBA is worth it? Let us talk, share views and vent if we must.


Wow this is an interesting area of discussion. I think it’s fair to say that the current economic conditions and resulted in many people re-evaluating the perception that they may have held for several years and in particular types of education that is likely to stand individuals in good stead when it comes to securing future employment and being valued members of teams.
From speaking to a variety of different individuals many of whom have undertaken MBAs and before and during the recent economic downturn I would say that almost all of the individuals find themselves enjoying the MB A and finding it challenging but equally many have found themselves without paid employment. I do think that the MBA does offer a good bridge between academia and employment in that it is much more focused on case studies and real-life examples and this is valued by employers however it does not in itself guarantee individuals worthwhile employment in the future.
I would say therefore that whilst the MBA is still very much valued and not overrated it cannot be relied upon as a meal ticket and individuals need to offer much more to their future employers than simply having an MBA.



I do think you are correct in your view.
MBA is not a guaranteed path to success. There is a time when MBA was being interpreted as Master of B****** All, that was how many offers of degrees were available. This multitude of degrees down valued the degree and employers became sceptical of them. There had to be a rebuilding of them and their status and that has taken plce by a ratification of the system.
However there are still students who are studying these degrees who have no business experience. With the economic situation as it is students see any masters as a path to take as opposed to employment, understandable but regrettable. The truth is an MBA with no work experience is about as effective a carrying water in a colander. So much of what you are taught will just pass through your hands as you have no experience to test it against.
It is a good degree with work experience but not without. I know as I have an MBA and the class was mixed with experienced people and those without and I know who did best.


As someone who is currently looking towards postgraduate qualifications, the MBA being one of these, I too have concerns that the MBA may not generate the same positive feelings as other postgraduate courses. Having spoken to a variety of individuals, including those involved in the decision it does seem that there is still some negativity surrounding the MBA but this depends largely on where to study the types of units and experiences that students can talk about during the interview process.
For those that I know who have studied the MBA it is by no means the easy option and actually looks more towards these combined degrees that seemed to be gaining popularity in recent years. Students on this course seem to study a much wider range of topics than those who are undertaking specific masters degrees such as the MSc in Finance and this is being seen as being increasingly beneficial to employers in the modern workplace.
As with any course though it is what you do with it that really counts and experience is key I think.