MBA: Is it worth it?

36 Replies

Hello all,

My name is Brian Edwards. I am new to the forums but have been listening to the Biggerpockets podcast for about 3 years now. I will be graduating from the University of Georgia next month and have been trying to look ahead for the next 3-5 years.

Since I began listening to Biggerpockets, I have definitely caught the bug for REI. To prepare, I have been saving as much as possible from work and internships over the summer. I will be in a solid position to start house hacking (2 to 4 unit smaller multifamily) sometime next year.

However, I am running into a dilemma. Should I consider holding off on REI, building upon my nest egg for 2 more years, and go back to school in about 2 years for my MBA? Luckily, I will graduate undergrad with no debt. Additionally, the program I am considering costs ~$70,000. However, I would likely be able to get a graduate assistantship stipend that would lower that basis.

If I were to complete this program, the average salary is $120,000 with an average signing bonus of ~$20,000. Currently, I should have a starting salary of around $60,000 straight out of undergrad.

I realize this is a subjective question and there are many factors to consider given the timeframe. I figured this could be a good discussion topic as I am sure many others have considered an MBA at one point or another. Any and all advice is welcome!

Best regards,


Brian Edwards

@Brian Edwards - I completed an online MBA 5 or 6 years after graduating from college.  The experience was great and certainly valuable to me after having run a multifamily rental business and working in the corporate world for several years.  If I had done the program after my undergrad, I'm not sure it would have been as useful or applicable. 

It's probably not a good idea to jump into a costly education expecting a certain salary when you're done.  I know a lot of people that got MBA's around 2008-2010 and couldn't even find jobs.

Originally posted by @Michael Seeker :

@Brian Edwards - I completed an online MBA 5 or 6 years after graduating from college.  The experience was great and certainly valuable to me after having run a multifamily rental business and working in the corporate world for several years.  If I had done the program after my undergrad, I'm not sure it would have been as useful or applicable. 

It's probably not a good idea to jump into a costly education expecting a certain salary when you're done.  I know a lot of people that got MBA's around 2008-2010 and couldn't even find jobs.

I appreciate your insight! I am thinking about working for 2-3 years out of undergrad and then pursuing a program. I will definitely look into the online programs some more and am glad to hear that it was a beneficial experience for you.

 

@Brian Edwards in my opinion this is very simple. If it’s a top 20-30 program as defined by the US & World News Report, then I would consider it. If it’s not then I wouldn’t really consider it.

Would you borrow the entire cost of the degree? That’s something else to consider. In general, an MBA without any work experience isn’t worth that much as you have never worked.

My advise would be to work a few years, save some money and see if you truly want an MBA.

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :

@Brian Edwards in my opinion this is very simple. If it’s a top 20-30 program as defined by the US & World News Report, then I would consider it. If it’s not then I wouldn’t really consider it.

Would you borrow the entire cost of the degree? That’s something else to consider. In general, an MBA without any work experience isn’t worth that much as you have never worked.

My advise would be to work a few years, save some money and see if you truly want an MBA.

I would plan to work at least 2-3 years before pursuing the program. I am currently looking at schools that are top 20-30. I have looked into the program at Scheller (Georgia Tech) which currently sits at 29. Comparatively speaking, it is pretty affordable and I would not have to borrow the entire cost of the degree. I really appreciate your insight! I am excited to graduate next month and start my journey into postgrad life.

Hi Brian,  

The most important question that you didn’t address is what you want to do with your life and why you want an mba- how will it help you get to where you want to be?  

I’d consider expanding your time horizon to looking at mba in year 3 or 4.  That way you will be able to focus on the program and classes that meet your future goals.  This will also give you time to bulk up your experience to write solid essays and get into a McKinsey school.  Or if you want to stay in RE, UNC.  

The most valuable part of the mba for me was the relationships built with students/alum/professors.  After you graduate this is what will remain.  I would be more inclined to take in-person classes if you wanted to be a career switcher and network.  If this isn’t applicable to your career, then online is totally fine.  

I would not worry about the money at this point, but focus on working hard out of school and figuring out what you really want to do.  Many of the most successful people I know don’t have an mba because they figured out early what they wanted to do and stuck with it.  Good Luck, I’m happy to help-  

Jay

@Brian Edwards figure out what you want to do or what you think you want to do right now and do something that aligns with that. If you still want to pursue your MBA in a few years more than likely the company you will be working for will subsidize a portion of it if not the whole program.

Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Brian Edwards :

Hello all,

My name is Brian Edwards. I am new to the forums but have been listening to the Biggerpockets podcast for about 3 years now. I will be graduating from the University of Georgia next month and have been trying to look ahead for the next 3-5 years.

Since I began listening to Biggerpockets, I have definitely caught the bug for REI. To prepare, I have been saving as much as possible from work and internships over the summer. I will be in a solid position to start house hacking (2 to 4 unit smaller multifamily) sometime next year.

However, I am running into a dilemma. Should I consider holding off on REI, building upon my nest egg for 2 more years, and go back to school in about 2 years for my MBA? Luckily, I will graduate undergrad with no debt. Additionally, the program I am considering costs ~$70,000. However, I would likely be able to get a graduate assistantship stipend that would lower that basis.

If I were to complete this program, the average salary is $120,000 with an average signing bonus of ~$20,000. Currently, I should have a starting salary of around $60,000 straight out of undergrad.

I realize this is a subjective question and there are many factors to consider given the timeframe. I figured this could be a good discussion topic as I am sure many others have considered an MBA at one point or another. Any and all advice is welcome!

Best regards,
Brian Edwards

 Depends: Do you want a secure future (real estate investing) or do you want to work for big business? I have a couple of degrees and worked in high tech for a fortune 200 company. Made decent money but things change so quickly and the average stay at any company any more is so short that big business is anything but secure. However, when I got into investing in real estate, my income skyrocketed and I called my own shots. The cost and time required for an MBA are not worth it in today's economy unless you are going to run your family's business, even then it may not pay off.

@Brian Edwards Hey Brain, 

I was in your shoes about 5 years ago. I was prepping for the GMAT and visited Harvard and Wharton for their MBA programs.

Realistically, the MBA does carry some weight if you go to a top Ivy League as the network and friends you get are priceless, honestly. Remember, those same friends could potentially be your Passive Investors in your Real Estate deals in the future. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't been around long enough. 

Now, getting your MBA from a pretty standard university might not be the best bang for your buck to be honest if you are already considering REI and you have no debt.

This is a tough one and you definitely need to do some critical thinking + soul searching. 

Just wanted to reiterate all of the same things said.  I too am a graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and got my MBA from a small local school.  I truly believe you need 5-6 years+ of work experience.  An MBA directly after undergrad is valuable, but you will get so much more out of it if you have work experience.  Also, 5-6 years gives you plenty of time to even determine if you want/need one.  

Also, this will set you up for the school and type of school you'll need to attend.  I agree that the top tier MBA programs hold some weight.  Nothing against Georgia Tech, but an MBA program from an Engineering/Technology school?  That's fine if you're in that industry, but not sure it holds as much value in RE.  

I am appreciative of the education I received and put it to use daily.  However, I believe there is going to be (there already is) a huge educational shift in which undergrad and graduate degrees will become less and less important.  I actually don't even believe my children will go to college as it may be irrelevant in 20 years.  Who knows?

Good luck, feel free to reach out as a fellow Dawg!

Originally posted by @Ola Dantis :

@Brian Edwards Hey Brain, 

I was in your shoes about 5 years ago. I was prepping for the GMAT and visited Harvard and Wharton for their MBA programs.

Realistically, the MBA does carry some weight if you go to a top Ivy League as the network and friends you get are priceless, honestly. Remember, those same friends could potentially be your Passive Investors in your Real Estate deals in the future. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't been around long enough. 

Now, getting your MBA from a pretty standard university might not be the best bang for your buck to be honest if you are already considering REI and you have no debt.

This is a tough one and you definitely need to do some critical thinking + soul searching. 

 Facts!  Ola dropped some real knowledge here.  MBA itself is becoming worthless as the demand for those jobs and income is shrinking.  Unless you are going to a top flight Ivy League school it's not worth it.  Even with those schools what you are paying for is "Access".  Access to people you would not have known and access to the network. 

Its all about work experience now. 

i'm in the camp of either don't do it at all or do it at a school that matters after you dip your toes in the real world. getting it straight out of undergrad without any real world experience is a mistake, imho. like Ola mentioned, big schools are all about networking and building those relationships that small/cheap schools won't afford you. 

get out of school, find a job, buy your house hack, see how it goes, and then you can see if you still want that $70k piece of paper lol

I have an MBA and my recommendation to you would be to work for a company that offers assistance in getting an MBA.  The company I worked for provided I think half of my tuition once I completed the semester, so half of my tuition was covered.  Some companies do offer more.  The catch is that you usually have to work for the company for a certain amount of years after you get your degree (I think two years is the norm).  So while you would get a discount, or even potentially get it for free, you would be tied up for some period of time after graduation.  

Do you plan on starting your real estate investing right after college without working?  Or do you plan on working for a company in conjunction with starting your real estate investing?  If you plan on working, I would try and do a part time program at night, which most schools seem to have one now.  This will allow to work a corporate job, get your MBA, and get a discount on getting your MBA.  

Also, there is no guarantee you will be six figures after graduating your MBA with no work experience.  An MBA is most beneficial with some work experience, usually 2-5 years of work experience.  I graduated with my MBA in 2014 and unfortunately could only find a job with a company that didn't really care if I had an MBA or not.  So I didn't get any pay increase because of it.  An MBA should help you move up the corporate ranks quicker than most people, but unless your going to a top 10 MBA, I don't see a six figure salary upon graduation.

Originally posted by @Jay Malikowski :

Hi Brian,  

The most important question that you didn’t address is what you want to do with your life and why you want an mba- how will it help you get to where you want to be?  

I’d consider expanding your time horizon to looking at mba in year 3 or 4.  That way you will be able to focus on the program and classes that meet your future goals.  This will also give you time to bulk up your experience to write solid essays and get into a McKinsey school.  Or if you want to stay in RE, UNC.  

The most valuable part of the mba for me was the relationships built with students/alum/professors.  After you graduate this is what will remain.  I would be more inclined to take in-person classes if you wanted to be a career switcher and network.  If this isn’t applicable to your career, then online is totally fine.  

I would not worry about the money at this point, but focus on working hard out of school and figuring out what you really want to do.  Many of the most successful people I know don’t have an mba because they figured out early what they wanted to do and stuck with it.  Good Luck, I’m happy to help-  

Jay

 Jay,

I really appreciate your insight and advice! Long-term I plan to acquire enough property to achieve financial freedom and pursue some of the things I am passionate about (Cars, Travel, Entrepreneurship, etc...). I should know in a couple of weeks where I will end up working after graduating. I have been looking into opportunities in consulting and CRE banking/investments. I think an MBA could help if I end up pursuing the consulting route. Luckily, I have plenty of time to decide and it isn't time-sensitive. I really appreciate your time and consideration as I am making the switch from student to full-time employee.

Best,


Brian Edwards

Originally posted by @Twana Rasoul :

@Brian Edwards figure out what you want to do or what you think you want to do right now and do something that aligns with that. If you still want to pursue your MBA in a few years more than likely the company you will be working for will subsidize a portion of it if not the whole program.

Best of luck!

Twana,

I really appreciate your advice! If I end up pursuing an MBA, I would definitely find ways to subsidize the cost.

Best,

Brian Edwards

 

Originally posted by @Account Closed :
Originally posted by @Brian Edwards:

Hello all,

My name is Brian Edwards. I am new to the forums but have been listening to the Biggerpockets podcast for about 3 years now. I will be graduating from the University of Georgia next month and have been trying to look ahead for the next 3-5 years.

Since I began listening to Biggerpockets, I have definitely caught the bug for REI. To prepare, I have been saving as much as possible from work and internships over the summer. I will be in a solid position to start house hacking (2 to 4 unit smaller multifamily) sometime next year.

However, I am running into a dilemma. Should I consider holding off on REI, building upon my nest egg for 2 more years, and go back to school in about 2 years for my MBA? Luckily, I will graduate undergrad with no debt. Additionally, the program I am considering costs ~$70,000. However, I would likely be able to get a graduate assistantship stipend that would lower that basis.

If I were to complete this program, the average salary is $120,000 with an average signing bonus of ~$20,000. Currently, I should have a starting salary of around $60,000 straight out of undergrad.

I realize this is a subjective question and there are many factors to consider given the timeframe. I figured this could be a good discussion topic as I am sure many others have considered an MBA at one point or another. Any and all advice is welcome!

Best regards,
Brian Edwards

 Depends: Do you want a secure future (real estate investing) or do you want to work for big business? I have a couple of degrees and worked in high tech for a fortune 200 company. Made decent money but things change so quickly and the average stay at any company any more is so short that big business is anything but secure. However, when I got into investing in real estate, my income skyrocketed and I called my own shots. The cost and time required for an MBA are not worth it in today's economy unless you are going to run your family's business, even then it may not pay off.

Mike,

Long-term I am definitely looking for a secure financial future where I will have the ability to pursue other creative outlets. I really appreciate your insight on the tech industry as I have interviewed with a couple of companies in that space. I will definitely take your advice in consideration as I figure out where I want to work after graduation next month. Again, thank you for taking the time to help as I am looking ahead and planning for the future.

Best,

Brian Edwards

 

As others have mentioned on this forum, the main advantage of an MBA is the connections through alumni and fellow students. This is why it isn't worth it if you aren't going to an ivy or ivy equivalent. 

You didn't mention what your undergrad degree was in, but Atlanta has a ton of really good commercial real estate jobs. AYREP is a great place to meet other young real estate professionals in the CRE space

Originally posted by @Ola Dantis :

@Brian Edwards Hey Brain, 

I was in your shoes about 5 years ago. I was prepping for the GMAT and visited Harvard and Wharton for their MBA programs.

Realistically, the MBA does carry some weight if you go to a top Ivy League as the network and friends you get are priceless, honestly. Remember, those same friends could potentially be your Passive Investors in your Real Estate deals in the future. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't been around long enough. 

Now, getting your MBA from a pretty standard university might not be the best bang for your buck to be honest if you are already considering REI and you have no debt.

This is a tough one and you definitely need to do some critical thinking + soul searching. 

Ola,

That is a great perspective. I have heard the network can be very valuable. Luckily, I have plenty of time to decide and figure out what path I want to venture down. I really appreciate your advice and the support of the BP community. Learning from those that have gone ahead of me has always helped me make informed decisions. I am eager to graduate next month and start putting my knowledge to work.

Best,

Brian Edwards

 

Originally posted by @Dane C Allen :

@Brian Edwards

Don’t pay for it yourself. Work for a few years once you’ve finished with your undergrad and you’ll likely find an employer that’ll pay for some, if not all, of the cost for your MBA.

Dane, 

I would definitely look for ways to get it significantly subsidized. I really appreciate your advice!

Best,

Brian Edwards

 

Originally posted by @Phillip Vera :

Just wanted to reiterate all of the same things said.  I too am a graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and got my MBA from a small local school.  I truly believe you need 5-6 years+ of work experience.  An MBA directly after undergrad is valuable, but you will get so much more out of it if you have work experience.  Also, 5-6 years gives you plenty of time to even determine if you want/need one.  

Also, this will set you up for the school and type of school you'll need to attend.  I agree that the top tier MBA programs hold some weight.  Nothing against Georgia Tech, but an MBA program from an Engineering/Technology school?  That's fine if you're in that industry, but not sure it holds as much value in RE.  

I am appreciative of the education I received and put it to use daily.  However, I believe there is going to be (there already is) a huge educational shift in which undergrad and graduate degrees will become less and less important.  I actually don't even believe my children will go to college as it may be irrelevant in 20 years.  Who knows?

Good luck, feel free to reach out as a fellow Dawg!

Phillip,

It is great to see a UGA grad on BP, Go Dawgs! I just got allocated a student ticket for the SEC Championship.

I definitely plan to work at least 3 years before pursuing a program. That is a good point. I definitely need to do more research to make sure the type of school aligns with the path I want to go down. 

I too think there is going to be a shift in the education system. That is another point I will need to consider later on if I decide to pursue an MBA. 

I really appreciate your insight and advice! I am hoping to get out to Augusta sometime for the Masters. I went a couple years back and the atmosphere was amazing.

Best,

Brian Edwards

 

Originally posted by @Frank Wong :
Originally posted by @Ola Dantis:

@Brian Edwards Hey Brain, 

I was in your shoes about 5 years ago. I was prepping for the GMAT and visited Harvard and Wharton for their MBA programs.

Realistically, the MBA does carry some weight if you go to a top Ivy League as the network and friends you get are priceless, honestly. Remember, those same friends could potentially be your Passive Investors in your Real Estate deals in the future. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't been around long enough. 

Now, getting your MBA from a pretty standard university might not be the best bang for your buck to be honest if you are already considering REI and you have no debt.

This is a tough one and you definitely need to do some critical thinking + soul searching. 

 Facts!  Ola dropped some real knowledge here.  MBA itself is becoming worthless as the demand for those jobs and income is shrinking.  Unless you are going to a top flight Ivy League school it's not worth it.  Even with those schools what you are paying for is "Access".  Access to people you would not have known and access to the network. 

Its all about work experience now. 

Frank,

I appreciate your insight! That is good to know as I start my career. It will be interesting to see where the job market is going forward. I will definitely be cognisant of that down the road. 

Best,

Brian Edwards

 

@Brian Edwards I went to a smaller tech/engineering school, got a bachelor's in engineering. Worked for a few years, got on with a company that paid for 2 master's degrees. Since the school I went to was local and expensive, I still had to pay taxes on the company reimbursement (IRS tax threshold is ~5000/year), so keep that in mind as well. But still, at $1300/credit hour and 45 credits (I planned it out so I was able to double-count half the credits from the first master's degree), paying taxes was much cheaper than paying for it all. I considered an MBA, as I would have that paid for as well, but one of my master's is in engineering management and I took several MBA classes as electives, so functionally it wasn't really different.

I concur with several comments to wait a few years. I definitely wouldn't have gotten as much out of the degrees if I had done it directly after bachelor's. Work experience is helpful for learning and perspective. I have used the degrees to my advantage to get a higher salary. Higher salary = more money to invest.

Edited to add: There is a payback period for the tuition reimbursement. Industry standard is now 2 years, generally 100% year 1 and tiered year 2. When I changed companies, part of my negotiation was to ask for a sign on bonus to cover what I owed my previous company for the tuition reimbursement. I live in a tech hub, so the competition between companies is pretty fierce.