by CIO Staff

MBA Dreams: Does the Degree Pay Off?

Sep 01, 20042 mins

It’s quite likely that your boss has an MBA.’s executive career counselors are pretty unanimous in recommending that path for any upwardly mobile IT worker. Two years ago, however, a Stanford University study suggested that MBAs were overrated. Since then, prominent guys like Guy Kawasaki (an MBA and the CEO of venture capital outfit Garage Technology Ventures) have told outlets like Forbes the same thing.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (an association of business schools) begs to differ (naturally). Its Global MBA Graduate Survey 2004 says the MBA class of 2004 rates the value of their MBA high, relative to the cost of the degree. Fifty-eight percent rate their MBA’s value as excellent or outstanding, and 30 percent rate it as good. Of course, they were all still on a graduation high when surveyed, but we won’t nitpick.

If you want to pursue an MBA, talk it over with your CEO, who might either get misty-eyed or suspicious if she’s read that recent GMAC study and remembers the highlight: 54 percent of graduating MBAs surveyed said they were using the MBA as a means of changing career tracks. That’s backed up by comments from Electronic Arts co-founder William Gordon in the September issue of American Airlines’ in-flight magazine American Way. In To MBA or Not to MBA, That Is the Question, which discusses the MBA experience with seven top-level executives from publicly traded U.S. companies, Gordon says, “It’s a very hefty investment of money and opportunity for anyone who already loves their job. But it’s a great way to change tracks for someone who is bored or dead-ended.” [Italics ours.]

A sidebar lists some famous (and famously wealthy) IT folks who skipped the MBA: namely Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

And, an aside: The in-flight mag also features a review of new laptops and they all sound spiffy. If your CEO flies American, don’t be surprised by queries about the Sharp Actius MM20 (for the workaholic), the Sony Vaio X505 (for the style-conscious) or the Panasonic Toughbook CF-73 (for the military or bungee-jumping boss).