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A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek discussed the return-on-investment (ROI) of the part-time MBA, something I am often asked about.   It is a very important question that should be asked by every working professional considering going back to school – will this significant investment of time, money, and energy provide me with the return I expect?

It is difficult to quantify ROI monetarily for part-time students, as nearly all students come into the program already employed (and some already making significant salaries), many switch jobs while in the program, and often graduates don’t move positions until well after completing their degree.  So the time to recoup the investment varies widely per each student’s individual situation.  But as the article points out, ROI from the MBA can also come in other valuable forms:

  • The ability to switch careers and/or industries to something you want to do, or may be more passionate about.
  • Increased options for those laid off or downsized, as demonstrated by the Florida journalist in the article.
  • An expanded professional network, which would enhance both the advantages above, helping identify and secure new opportunities.
  • Personal development - gaining confidence, improving communication/writing skills, and building leadership/teamwork experience.

So the ROI decision should not be based on only hard numbers.  I’ve seen many students and alumni leverage these “intangible” forms of ROI above into jobs that were a better fit, with better long-term potential – and often better salaries.