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Is an MBA Worth It?

A graduate business degree such as a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) has a variety of costs, including tuition, living expenses, textbooks, and other costs, including transportation and meals.

Many ask if the cost of an MBA is worth the expense, but what IS that expense? According to Nerdwallet, in 2022 alone, the typical price tag for an MBA was just over $225 thousand.

Tuition costs seem to increase for many throughout a two or four-year degree program. What do you need to know about MBAs before you make a time and financial commitment?

How Much Can I Earn With an MBA ?

Fortune Magazine published a 2022 article about MBAs, which includes the following observation: in 2022, “The average starting salary for MBA graduates was $115,000, more than 53% higher than the $75,000 average for people who only have a bachelor’s degree” which Fortune attributes to Graduate Management Admission Council data.

Those are compelling numbers for anyone considering a graduate degree in business. Are you looking for the best MBA program for military members? A good place to start is with schools that have an MBA program and are Yellow Ribbon friendly.


Is an MBA Program Expensive?

For those with access to the GI Bill or other veteran educational assistance programs, an MBA program may be exponentially cheaper than those attending without such help.

But even those who can’t use the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military tuition assistance programs, or state government veteran education benefits may be able to save money by taking an accelerated program.

How much does an MBA program cost? That depends on where you apply, but the University of Pennsylvania lists a "first year budget" total at approximately $124,476. Compare that to Harvard Business School's $115,638 and Columbia's $127,058. As you can see, there's a rough average across these three examples.

MBA Program Options That Save You Money

Some sources report the “most popular” MBA option is the two-year version, where a student stops working, attends business school full-time instead, and takes 20 months to complete the program.

But some MBA programs accelerate the pace, putting the same amount of learning into a ten or 12-month course of study. Some schools also offer part-time options for weekend-only MBA classes.

What to consider:For those looking for MBA programs for military officers, the accelerated, full-time version of the MBA may not be possible. Still, for those currently serving on active duty, there are school options that include part-time and online programs.

And some students come to the process already working in the business world. For these applicants, an executive MBA may be the best option to consider.

What to Know About an Executive MBA

Some students do not have to start “at the bottom” like entry-level MBA hopefuls do. These are often people with substantial experience in the workplace who need a next-level graduate degree.

The executive MBA is an option for these potential students. Nerdwallet states, “Some schools also offer an executive MBA degree for those with more substantial work experience. These programs are usually offered part-time, so students can continue working.”

What about cost considerations? Is this option priced more competitively?

The same source reports some executive MBA programs have costs comparable to a more traditional two-year MBA option. Still, some sources report the costs for what is commonly known as an EMBA (the “E” is for “executive) can run “slightly higher” than a two-year traditional program.

Paying For Your MBA

Using the GI Bill is the most obvious option, but those who want to earn a Master’s degree in Business Administration while they are still serving should consider using military tuition assistance first, as it is meant to help you study without using your GI Bill.

Military spouses who want an MBA can use transferred GI Bill benefits, military spouse tuition assistance, apply for MyCAA, or apply for state government spouse tuition programs.

Learn more about the GI Bill