The Value of Business School

Personal development and improvement of management skills primary reasons students pursue business education, according to GMAC's 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey.

HOW DO BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI view their educations three, five, and even ten years after graduation? Most view it very favorably, according to the 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey released by the Graduate Management Admission Council. The survey aggregates responses from 14,279 alumni of 70 business schools worldwide. These alumni were asked to express the value of their graduate-level business degrees in terms of skills gained, careers achieved, and overall ROI realized.

Of those surveyed, 93 percent noted that they found their graduate management education experiences personally rewarding, and 89 percent found them professionally rewarding. A slightly smaller majority, 75 percent, found their educations to be financially rewarding. When asked if they would pursue graduate management education again, 93 percent said yes.

And while earning graduate business degrees led to higher salaries for most of these alums, a salary boost was not the main reason they pursued graduate business education. Personal development (73 percent) and an expansion of managerial knowledge and skills (62 percent) were the top motivating factors. An increase in salary was the main driver for only 59 percent. A few came to business school so they could increase self-confidence (27 percent), start a business (19 percent), or obtain international job assignments (16 percent).

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Another telling finding is that the opportunity cost for full-time MBA programs continues to grow. Graduates of full-time two-year programs see greater ROI than those from other degrees, but they also see greater costs in lost time and wages.
“Truly measuring ROI is an art requiring a deep appreciation for the reasons individuals decide to expend the time, energy, and money to accomplish a goal,” the survey authors write.

Read GMAC's 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey—which also breaks down median base salaries by gender, job level, organization size, and global region.