Is MBA the best education for career advancement?

2015 is the most optimistic year for the MBA job market according to both business schools and employers. A number of recent studies – most notably the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 2015 Prospective Student Report – indicate that MBA education has established itself as the go-to place for prospective students who wish to progress their careers. More than half of postgraduate candidates see the MBA degree as the only possible option for enhancing their careers, compared to 22% who see the classic Masters degree as the life-changing diploma that would bring them into the fold of upper-middle class earners.

The American organisation’s latest yearly report states that 65% of prospective students across the globe “pursue graduate management education to increase the job opportunities that are available to them”. Of those, more than one-third seek better jobs, while another third aims to switch career lanes. The remaining 28% – an unsurprising number in the current start-up craze – claim to be aspiring entrepreneurs.

Expectations not far from reality

Voices on both side of the fence express optimism when it comes to these numbers. Business schools around the world suggest that 2015 is possibly the best year since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis when it comes to companies hiring freshly graduated MBA students. At the same time, employers help revitalise a labour market, which only a few years ago, saw its highest unemployment rates in decades.

One dean at Wisconsin School of Business in the US even goes as far as saying that “It’s going to be a (graduating) students’ market for the next 15-plus years,”, while Barbara Hewitt of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, claims that “only 4.2% of last year’s graduating class of seniors were still seeking employment four to six months after graduation”, according to the BBC.

More importantly, employers’ attitudes towards MBA graduates have reached overwhelmingly positive numbers in 2015. According to the same 2015 GMAC report, “the proportion of employers hiring recent business school graduates continues to trend upward in 2015” with “84 percent of employers (planning) to hire MBA graduates this year, compared with 74 percent that hired them in 2014” – a growth rate of 12% over a period of one year.

More than half of MBA graduates are managers

Earlier this year, Paris-based Advent Group conducted a similar survey across a wide range of prospective, current, and graduated business education students from around the world. Its findings open a window into the future of some of the students graduating now, by comparing the current success of MBA alumni to the initial expectations of candidates.

According to the study, 60% of MBA graduates currently hold mid- or senior level management positions, compared to 43% of Master’s graduates.

When asked about the kind of skills that candidates expect to acquire during their MBA education, most answer “global vision”, “leadership skills”, and “interpersonal skills”. These can be broadly branded as “soft skills” – a highly sought-after set of applied skills and qualities essential for managers. Interestingly, these three answers are also the most popular among MBA graduates.

In addition, a combined 66% of MBA graduates claimed that they either attained a better-paying job or managed to climb the career ladder as a result of their studies.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Christophe Coutat, CEO and Founder of Advent Group said “An MBA degree teaches the management-level mix of soft and hard skills essential for today’s dynamic, and often volatile, business environment”.

“Whether we’ll enter a period of economic growth or another crisis in the global market remains unclear. But one thing is certain – the time for great experts capable of taking on the responsibilities that come with these new realities – is now”, Coutat concluded.

How to choose an MBA?

Access MBA bridges the distance between business executives and elite MBA programmes from around the world through personalised One-to-One meetings between potential MBA candidates and Admissions Directors.

The Access MBA Tour will return to Bucharest on the 14th of November at Radisson Blu hotel. The event will bring together top international business schools from Europe and North America, as well as prestigious local institutions.

Access MBA’s Fall Tour features 125 international business schools and takes place in 34 cities across the world.