Knowing what will move your career forward in the business world can be challenging. Many choose to pursue an MBA to deepen their knowledge, gain credibility, and make valuable connections. However, an MBA may not be the best pathway for everyone.

A degree can be expensive and time-consuming, and many MBA programs require an extensive and competitive application process — a barrier to entry for many aspiring business students looking to leverage what an MBA will teach them  

There are alternatives to seeking a traditional MBA that will provide knowledge into areas of business, enhance your credibility, and provide connections you need to thrive in your career.

Cons of a Traditional MBA

Traditional MBAs have long been the default approach to pursuing a successful career in business. But this may be changing. MBAs can present drawbacks to rising business professionals who may be interested in seeking an alternate route.

Cost of a traditional MBA

According to a 2023 Forbes article, the average cost of a traditional MBA is $61,800 and is one of the most expensive master’s degrees you can pursue. This cost is prohibitive to many and, depending on the institution, financial aid is not necessarily guaranteed. Students may also be hesitant to take out a loan to support their education; the average student loan debt currently sits at $37,338. 

The high expense required to invest in an advanced degree simply may not be an option for some and could discourage people from pursuing a traditional MBA.

Time to complete an MBA

The length of time it takes to complete an MBA varies, depending on the program, the school, and whether students attend full time or part time. 

Many schools offer an accelerated pathway, which students can complete in about one year. The qualifications often include an undergraduate degree or prior education in business, and most require full-time enrollment. 

Two-year MBA programs are the most standard. They also typically require full-time enrollment, meaning students do not have the option to stay in the workforce during that period. 

Part-time or self-paced MBA programs generally take three years or longer to complete. Students have the ability to work in addition to attending school, while balancing their personal lives and responsibilities.

The time commitment for all three options can present a major challenge for business professionals. Both accelerated MBA programs and two-year programs prevent students from working during the time it takes to complete the degree — a sacrifice that many cannot afford to make. And part-time MBA programs take a longer period of time, which is not ideal for those looking to make a career switch or level up their skill sets. 

Pros of a Traditional MBA

Although there are challenges, traditional MBAs still offer many benefits. MBA graduates can expect positive career outlooks and a return on their time and investment in their education.

Higher salary potential

MBA graduates have the opportunity to earn a higher salary. Though individual salaries will vary depending on the school from which students graduated, the hiring company, and the specific field, MBAs typically earn more than graduates of other degrees. In 2021, the average starting salary for MBAs was between 22 percent and 40 percent higher than for bachelor graduates.

Gaining a graduate degree increases students’ earning potential in general; according to a 2021 report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, 79 percent of graduate business alumni strongly agreed that their degree had a positive impact on their earning potential.

MBA graduates are in demand

The employment outlook for MBA degree-holders is positive overall. In 2022, 92 percent of employers said they planned to hire MBA graduates across all industries. In 2021, 97 percent of those employers hired MBA alumni — up from 80 percent in 2020.

Introducing a New MBA Alternative

Harvard DCE Professional & Executive Development has introduced the intensive Business Management Program From Management to Leadership. This program offers a range of essential skills needed to advance your career outcomes, taught by business industry leaders.

Benefits of Our MBA Alternative Program

Business Management Program: From Management to Leadership provides many insights and instruction that a traditional MBA program might provide. Over the course of five days, participants will engage in an MBA-inspired curriculum focused on skills that drive business success. Upon completion of the program, you will earn a Certificate of Participation from the Harvard Division of Continuing Education.

Improve your ability to influence across the organization and shape culture 

Organizations and their cultures are rapidly changing — don’t let yours fall behind. This course includes a comprehensive breakdown on leading transitions, covering challenges in multiple areas, defining your business model, and organizational leadership.

Participants will gain confidence in their abilities as business leaders and gain understanding of pathways forward for their companies and organizations.

Gain insight into strategy and how to build a competitive advantage

Business strategy is a key component to success, from understanding market dynamics to creating value for customers. From Management to Leadership guides participants through the process of developing marketing strategy, taking strategic action, and strategic integration.

Through highly interactive lectures, case discussions, exercises, and workshops, you will return to work as an empowered leader equipped to manage across the organization.

Learn to build and sustain operational excellence

Using interactive lectures, case studies and discussions, exercises, and workshops, this accelerated business course will help participants gain operational command of their business. Success is not only about seeing immediate results; it is about developing and applying effective concepts for the long term.

Is the Harvard DCE Professional & Executive Development’s Business Management Program Right for You?

This business management course is designed for managers across industries and functional areas who are making or recently made a transition to a higher level of business leadership or management. Working professionals who are starting a business, human resource professionals, consultants, and business administrators may also find this program particularly useful.

Registration is open until one week before the program begins, and seats are limited. Secure your spot and get started on advancing your career today!