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Are MBA's Still Valuable?

Fortune magazine recently published an interesting fact regarding the share of posted jobs, as seen on Monster.com, that require an MBA.

The surprising statistic is that only 1% of the posted positions required or recommended that applicants have an MBA.

Another interesting fact is that only 1% to 2% of the posted positions since 2012 have looked for an MBA.

Why has an MBA lost favor?

One big reason is that specialized skills, certifications and on the job experience has become more valued by many, especially in the tech sector.

Some Silicon Valley luminaries like Peter Thiel, Sheryl Sandberg and Elon Musk have all publicly come out with negative opinions about MBA's. 

Peter Thiel, as written in Business Insider, said:

If there's one thing the uber-libertarian Thiel despises, it's people who act like sheep. And MBAs tend to get caught up in groupthink, he says.

While he doesn't have an "absolute ban" on hiring MBAs, he thinks that they tend to be "high extrovert/low conviction people."

That's "a combination that in my experience leads towards extremely herd-like thinking and behavior," he says.

Sheryl Sandberg, in a Bloomberg.com article, said this about MBA's.

In a post authored by a profile that Quora verifies as Sandberg's, the COO responded to a question about whether her master’s in business administration was helpful or lent “additional credibility or other advantages.” Sandberg said she got something out of the Harvard Business School MBA she earned in 1995, but she was not ready to recommend the degree to the country’s future tech stars. 

“While I got great value from my experience, MBAs are not necessary at Facebook and I don’t believe they are important  for working in the tech industry,” Sandberg wrote. She said her MBA helped her get a basic sense of business, which might be instrumental “for some people and in some situations,” but dismissed the notion that the training would offer a leg up at Facebook.

“I believe—and at Facebook we believe—that degrees are always secondary to skills. In hiring at Facebook we care what people can build and do,” she wrote. 

This raises an interesting question on whether an MBA degree is still relevant.

As a proud MBA - Marketing from Michigan State University I would like to offer the following opinions:

  • Education is always important. It broadens and enlightens you as an individual and helps you develop networks and relationships that can help you grow personally and professionally.
  • The MBA degree does provide a lot of business specific skills , especially for non business undergraduates, that can help prepare and position you for the demands of the workplace.
  • An MBA is no guarantee of a ticket to the C Suite and needs to be seen as in the proper perspective as a tool to help the individual grow their skill sets in defined areas.
  • The need to skill specialization and certifications is becoming increasingly important and the traditional MBA degree in many ways has not kept pace with all of the marketplace changes. A number of institutions are addressing this and I expect that the changes will make future MBA degrees more relevant.