There was a time when a Master’s in Business Administration – simply known as an “MBA” – was the degree to pursue. Regardless of price, it gave people a chance to pursue a high-earning career of their choice. If one felt trapped by a job and wanted a breath of fresh air, an MBA provided them the opportunity to switch to something else. If one wanted to maximize their wages but could not do so with their present job, an MBA allowed them to increase their earnings. Schools continue to advertise the degree as one that can propel someone to management and comfortable living, as evidenced by Harvard Business School’s statistics which shows that students received a $148,750 median salary. This statistic, along with the fact that many CEOs of the top companies have an MBA, suggests that it is still a degree worth pursuing. However, with the rise in technology and entrepreneurship, is the steep $200,000 price tag still worth it?
Due to the modernization of the world we now live in and presence of a pandemic, the answer is a resounding “no.” Although having management and interpersonal skills are intangibles a computer cannot possibly emulate, we now see that the only jobs that are secure are the ones “that can’t be easily automated or outsourced.” From finance to medicine to some tech jobs, automation is growing at a rapid pace in the industry. And the management skills taught at business schools cannot keep up. What management looked like ten years ago is not – and should not be – the same as management today, but those pursuing an MBA will not learn that.
Additionally, the rise in Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – has given people the ability to gain new skills without paying much. Platforms such as Coursera and edX regularly offer free management courses which provide students with a solid foundation in modern skills needed to survive in today’s corporate world. Rather than going into debt to pursue a $200,000 degree, many are choosing to go down this route.
Finally, the pandemic has significantly altered the landscape of the job market. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bain & Co. announced that they will reduce the number of second-year MBA hires while PwC will not hire the usual 100 second-year students they typically do. Meanwhile, EY is taking wait-and-see approach. For a degree that promises so much and demands an incredible sum of cash from the get-go, this is not what students, or prospective students, want to see. Given the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, who knows how much longer this will last. There may come a day where the MBA is obsolete.