Today's Professional

Today's Professional

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Should I go straight to a MBA after earning my Bachelors?

Straight to a MBA

One question I have been asked a lot by subordinates, interns, and friends considering a MBA, is whether or not they should make the jump right after undergraduate. This is a very good question to ask, and if you are considering going from an undergraduate degree straight to a MBA there are some things you need to consider.

I personally went from Bachelors degree to the MBA program. Looking back on this process now, I certainly would have done things differently. The following g outlines hurdles I experienced along the way taking the process of bachalors degree to full-time MBA.

First: Work Experience
Work experience is first and foremost what employers are looking for when considering candidates. Going straight from a Bachelors to a MBA lessens the chance you will be able to gain valuable work experience, specifically if you go into a full-time MBA program, the common practice of Bachelors to MBA students.

Resolution: I suggest you consider finding a job, entry level in a field of interest, or with a company that you could see yourself staying with for at least two years. While in this position, find a mentor who is in a position you would like to be in and see if you can collaborate with them. Learn how they got to where there are and practice mirroring their work habits. Finding a successful mentor is key to gaining experience.

Next, look for companies that offer tuition reimbursement. It is important that the company reimburses tuition for MBA programs. I worked for one of the largest insurance companies in the world in the claims department. Though my MBA was very helpful to my position, it was not directly applicable to the job description. There were  two fellow claims representatives who requested tuition reimbursement for a MBA degree. They were both denied because a MBA was not directly applicable to the position. This is something that must be considered if your are looking to get tuition reimbursement; Does the education directly apply to the position or does it make sense for the company to foot the bill?

A second option if considering the jump from Bachelors to MBA is to enter a part-time program. This option can pay off in two ways. First, if your schedule allows, you can work during the day and take a few classes in the evening. This will however take discipline and good time management skills (something employers look for). Second evening class generally have students who are currently in the work force and will have much more applicable examples to discuss in class.

I personally went from Bachelors to a full-time MBA and where 90% of my fellow students have taken the same route. The in-class examples from fellow students were for the most part weak and did not directly to apply to the concepts at hand. I did take a few night classes in order to speed up the time spent in the program. In these classes the quality of real life examples pertaining to the subject was greatly increased and I learned a lot more from my fellow students in comparison to day time courses.

Second: Your Reason for Wanting a MBA
The next thing to consider when thinking about going from a Bachelors Degree  to MBA, is knowing why you want an MBA. Do you have a specific job in mind that requires a MBA? What is the real reason for considering a MBA? I was guilty of not knowing exactly why I wanted a MBA. My reasons were: I want a job with more money and responsibility, I have a passion for business (I call it an entrepreneurial spirit), and I had a goal of owning my own business one day. 

However, what I didn't consider where direct career goals and objectives that require a MBA. For example, I had no clue what field, or even an ideal job description was for me. After talking to a leadership coach, and a career council, I realized I needed to figure this out. 

Resolution I suggest, if you are in the decision process to go from BA to MBA, you write out an example job description for your ideal position. Next, either work with a career councilor or utilize Google, to find similar job description and see what type of education is required for the position.  In my experience, if I came across a job with the keyword Master of Business Administration or MBA, the job also required 5+ years of experience.

By considering the purpose of your choice to go from a undergraduate program to a MBA program, you may realize your decision is not based on applicable reasons. When making the decision, make sure the progression from undergraduate to graduate school is a natural progression and required in your ideal position. A MBA program is not a cheap decision to make, which brings me to my next point.

Third: The Cost
Finally, can you afford a MBA? It is very expensive to get a MBA, especially it you look at the aggregate cost. For this I will consider a full-time student straight from a Bachelors program. 

The first thing to consider is your student loans for your undergraduate program (if you took them). By being a full-time student you can defer your loans, but interest keeps building on your loans. Ergo, you are increasing your payback amount. The average cost of a full time MBA program is $40,000. If you get student loans for the program you will add these to your current loan sum. Next, you most likely will not be earning income while in the program, meaning all cost will have interest (using credit cards).

But wait you say, I got offered a scholarship or fellowship, and my tuition is paid. To that i say in all sincerity well done, but you will still have to pay in the aggregate. You will not be earning substantial income, you will most likely have to pay room and board, buy food, supplies, and entertain yourself (the much need happy hour with your fellow classmates), you won't be paying off your undergrad loans, and above all you will not be earning income that allows you to save, and to the first point, gain experience.

Resolution: Plain and simple, truly consider the net cost of starting your MBA directly after earning your undergraduate degree. Are you in the position to take on more debt, without the certainty of landing a job in two-more years.

These are just three of the many points to consider when making the decision to go from a undergraduate degree to a MBA. These three items were selected, because at the time I made the decision, I did not take these items into account. I thought I would be able to submit my resume to a few companies, and I would get a call back, boy was I wrong. I though, hey I got a fellowship, and do not have to pay a dime of tuition, again wrong. It cost me a lot of money over the two years to be in the MBA program.

Feel free to leave any comments or ask me any questions if you are in the middle of this decision process!


  1. Hello Matt, I am a full-time student with 3.5 GPA. My Degree is currently in Psychology and I have always planned like you, to just get my MBA. I share that same "entrepreneurial spirit" as you mentioned, currently I am just confused on where to go with it. I have an impeccable work ethic and I am very interested in things such as food service and human resources (people oriented jobs). Do you think that an MBA is the right option for me, or do you have another degree path that you could recommend. Any tips that you could share would be much appreciated.

  2. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for your comment. I was in the same position as you when I elected to go into the MBA program. I wanted a people oriented position. I too enjoy the food service industry and HR type roles. One graduate path I would recommend is industrial organization. It generally falls under the umbrella of a psychology program. With a degree in IO you can generally work in HR or as a consultant (if you take the PhD route) focusing on the people side of business. Either way, I would really consider getting professional experience prior to obtaining your MBA. A MBA is more of a degree if you are already a manager (generally mid level), and want to move up. So to summarize, I would look into industrial organization degrees and see if the programs sit well with your career goals. Take care, and please feel free to contact me with any more questions.

  3. Hello Matt,

    I am in a different dilemma from what you have mentioned. I just graduated a couple of days ago. My degrees were BS in International Business and a BA in Chinese Studies. I was offered a very good job by UPS after graduation. However, I have always wanted to obtain an MBA. I have heard that people say go to school right after your undergrad because you are still in "school mode."

    I also applied for graduate school in Taiwan. It is accredited and is one of the top schools in Asia. If I get accepted, it is a full-ride scholarship so cost will not be an issue. I would also be given free Chinese language training for a year which is extremely important since I am a Chinese major as well. It would help my language skills from intermediate to fluent. However, I will not be working because I will be there for two years on a student visa. Thus, I will not be gaining the real business experience that I should get. UPS would be my plan B if I do not get accepted into Taiwan.

    How do you feel about my situation? I would appreciate the insight.

    Thank you,

  4. Hello Kathy,
    Thanks for commenting. I would say your position is a good one to be in. The opportunity to go to school in Taiwan is one I wouldn't turn down. This may seem contrary to what I wrote in the post, but there is always exceptions. Here is why I feel that way. First, you will be gaining experience in another country. Second, the language skills are something future employers will look for. Third, it sounds like the chance of a lifetime.

    On top of all that, you have a plan B, which as you putted, is a very good job. I would do what it takes to get into the school in Taiwan, worst case scenario, you land a good job at UPS, who may pay for your MBA down the road!

    I wish you the best of luck Kathy! If there you have any other questions, feel free to send them my way.

    Take care,

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  6. Hi Matt,

    As an undergraduate student majoring in economics, I plan to pursue my MBA and continue to graduate school to earn my PHD since my career aspiration is to become a college professor. In my situation, would you say that gaining work experience after i acquire my undergraduate degree is a better idea than trying to go straight from undergraduate to MBA to graduate school?

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for your question. First, I would say it depends on the subject matter of your Ph D. Will you add value to your lectures and research by having real world personal experience? Or, will your studies, research and publications be enough to add to the learning experience of your students? I think asking yourself these questions would be the best place to start.

      I have worked closely with both kinds of academics. The ones who have real world experience often work as consultants in addition to being a professors. While on the other hand, the ones who wrap up their studies with no work experience often are dedicated to program enrichment, and serve on committees in addition to their role as professor at the university.

      If I can assist further, just let me know.


  7. I am currently in a Masters in Healthcare Administration program right now at Seton Hall U. I am considering going right into an MBA program, as most healthcare managers/CEO's I know say that an MBA and an MHA are a lethal combo of degrees for advancement w/in H/C organizations. I will have approx $45,000 in debt in total from undergrad and my MHA, I plan on doing a Part time MBA at Temple U or Villanova. What do you think of my plan. Any feedback is great! TY


    1. Hi Jordan,

      Thanks for your question. You are certainly right that a combo of MBA/MHA makes you a desirable candidate. I think you have a good plan and if you work while obtaining the MBA you will gain the experience you need to make you a strong candidate for a leadership role.

      The one caveat I will offer is be careful not to catch what I call "Student to Management Syndrome." Often times I see fresh graduate with minimal experience who get a masters in management or marketing, or an MBA for that matter, think their first position is going to be in mid to upper management. This is however not the case, as employees need you to prove yourself. Sure you may be a 4.0 student, but can you apply that knowledge to the business?

      I hope this is helpful, and please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

      Take care,


    2. Matt,

      Thank you. Recently I have changed my direction and will complete my MHA and transition right into a PhD program in Healthcare Management at Seton Hall, due to some classes being waived and the length on the Doctoral program. The good thing is I will be working FT during the program, most likely at a hospital. I work at the DOH currently. I have had multiple C-suite exec's tell me a PhD will make me an invaluable candidate for a C-suite position. I still anticipate getting my MBA eventually as 'the extra' alphabet to my name, plus I believe it will assist me with understanding the larger business/economic picture, esp when I begin consulting on the side. Again, any input is appreciated.


  8. Investment in a Business Management program is much more beneficial compared to investment in other academic programs. Perhaps, more so in the current situation of recession. Thanks for sharing a nice information.
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  9. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for a great article. My career goal is become the director of a non-profit human resource department. I received my undergrad in psychology, and I've applied to numerous I/O graduate program and to Boise State's Career Start MBA program by chance. It's a unique program, because it is a cohort based program that is catered toward recent graduates. The program mandates a summer internship as a part of their curriculum to enable work experience. I've found out that the MBA program will be the only program that will fully fund me. Here's my question. Should take the MBA, or opt for the I/O graduate degree and take the loans?

  10. i have completed by bachelor degree in psychology and take it forced by my parents but i do not like it. now i am considering to take MBA but i am wondering how will be capable of pursuing mba because i never have idea about business subject. however i want a job in bank. can you give me some suggestion for my career.?

  11. I also need some insight, I recently graduated with a BS in International Business. It has been hard for me to get an entry level job within my field. I want to get that hands on experience but it does not look like anyone is wiling to train me.I thought that it would be better to do an internship for a few months then go to grad school but it seems most of the internships are being offered to grad students. Should I just apply to grad school and intern or look for a basic business job and work my way up. I would like to travel and study abroad. I did not get a chance to do most of that during my undergrad because my parents wanted me to focus on school. I feel that its essential to my career path. Should i go to grad school?

  12. Hi Matt , My name is sai charan . I'm from India . I'm still actually just starting my undergraduate courses (B.Com) and I am interested to join MBA in a good institute abroad . I'm not sure of what I want , which course , but i know that I want to pursue my career in this path . My question is , when should i take my GMATs and what's the minimum score that i would need if i want to join a good institute . And i would love it if you gave me any advice or heads-up

  13. Hi matt. I'm currently studying in year 12 and am at a crossroads of choosing a career. Can you tell me if it's advisable to do psychology bachelors and then an MBA and or I do my LLB (law) and then do an MBA. Is it worth any value doing it in such combinations ?

  14. Hello Matt. I know you wrote this in 2012 and may never see this comment but I need an opinion. I am a soon to be graduate with a bachelors in environmental studies minoring in management. I am at a crossroads. I don't know whether I should get into an MBA or search the job market. Mind you, both sound equally scary to me. But like you, I have that "entrepreneurial spirit" and am trying to figure out if I want an MBA. I am discouraged because I will have to apply for financial support and seek help from my parents. However, coming out of high school I wanted to pursue a business degree but was made a better offer for an environmental one, so I took it. I know I might just be seeking out another chance at business school, but like a child who has been denied candy, I want it. I am also hearing from more people that it would only be beneficial to get into an MBA once I have the work experience but that leads me to more questions. Would I be able to get a managerial position in an environmental field? Are there environment-managerial positions? And if I work for too long would I be able to get back into school mode? How long is too long?
    Lost, need help.

  15. Hi Matt,
    I'm in my third year of under graduation. I am an Indian student and the tenure for Bachelors of Mass Media here is 3 years. I have a six months working experience as of now and by the time i graduate, it will be a year. I want to pursue an MBA in Marketing and Mass Communication. Can you give me piece of your mind on this?

  16. Masters in Healthcare administration, or in other words MHA is a professional degree on a master’s level that is chosen by students of this stream. A master’s degree in the healthcare sector will give you the knowledge and competencies that are usually needed for superior careers in the healthcare administration.

  17. Hey,i am really confused what career should i pursue after my graduation.
    Currently i am studying psycology honrs.,final year.
    I am way too confused that wether should i go for m.a in psycology or m.b.a in human resource.
    Please explain which field would give me better career oppurtunity.

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