Is an MBA Worth it? Examining the ROI of an MBA Degree

January 11, 2021
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One of the most basic and frequently used performance measurements in business is Return on Investment, or ROI. When the primary goal of an organization is to increase revenue in a cost-efficient manner, ROI is a great place to start. Similarly, evaluating ROI is quite relevant when considering whether or not to earn an MBA. For many, the ROI ends up being a compelling factor in their decision.

Is an MBA Worth It? Examining the ROI of the Cost of an MBA Degree

By Emily Guajardo

Earning an MBA is a significant investment that requires dedication, ownership, discipline, and financial planning. The prospect of entering into a rigorous MBA program can be overwhelming for those working full-time, managing busy lives, or working to pay off student debt. Still, the value of an MBA is conveyed through individual student stories highlighting key skills and in-depth knowledge that positioned them for long-term success. Moving toward a higher position, negotiating a starting salary, and even preparing for a career transition are just a few of the ways students realize the return on investment (the ROI) of pursuing an MBA.

In order to prepare for the investment and dedication that will follow, prospective MBA students need to make sure they know what this degree can do for them. By understanding the ROI of obtaining an MBA, prospective students can prepare themselves mentally and financially to make the best decision possible for their education and future careers.

In March 2020, US News & World Report surveyed 129 graduates of various MBA programs and found that the average salary plus bonus paid to graduates after finishing their full-time program was approximately $107,000. For those who went through more selective programs, that number increased to an average income of up to near $174,000 a year. Many of these increases were the result of salary negotiations and promotions.

Baylor alumna Cynthia Balusek '15 said that while going through the program was rigorous and time-consuming, she learned how to apply her skills and set herself up for a salary negotiation that surprised even her.

"I really felt uncomfortable talking about salary negotiations prior to going through the Baylor MBA program," said Balusek. "However, the professors care so much about your professional success that they really help you go through so much practice and techniques so that you are not only prepared to negotiate, but also get the amount that you think you deserve."

Being a professional working woman and mother, Balusek mentioned that while the business world is rapidly accepting and hiring executive women, it is still a topic of taboo for women to negotiate their pay prior to being hired or promoted.

Photo of Baylor alumna Cynthia Balusek
Baylor alumna Cythia Balusek '15 among fellow students during orientation.

"Maybe it's just me, but I really have felt that women are oftentimes told that salary negotiations are not that important and that we should just accept what we are given if it's fair," said Balusek. "However, through the MBA program, I learned that you have to ask for what you want. I wanted a higher salary and, even though it was uncomfortable for me, I still had to do it and ultimately succeeded. And that would not have happened had it not been for those negotiation courses we had to take."

Today, Balusek serves as the Vice President, Customer Services and Support at Mize in Austin, Texas. Balusek said that her promotion to vice president would not have been possible without a few key factors: devoted professors, great colleagues, and a supportive family environment.

"The ROI of getting an MBA is unmeasurable because it opens so many doors for those interested in advancing their careers. I had the good fortune of having a husband who also underwent obtaining an MBA, so he knew what I was going through and was so supportive of me. That's what makes the difference: having people who know the benefit of furthering your degree for more opportunity," said Balusek.

For Baylor alumnus William Zollicoffer '18, obtaining an MBA was more about gaining the necessary degree and title for future promotions and job opportunities. Having worked at StratiFi Health for many years, Zollicoffer had established his credibility within his organization and he didn't necessarily need the MBA to further his position. He wanted to learn and gain more knowledge from an academic standpoint in order to make himself more viable as an executive and position himself for external roles in the future.

"You know, for me, I had a great mentor who told me that while I didn't need one to get further ahead at the company I'm at right now, [an MBA] would help me seem more qualified than other candidates if I ever decided to leave and work somewhere else," said Zollicoffer.

Photo of William Zollicoffer
Baylor alumnus William Zollicoffer '18 enjoys some downtime with fellow students during the program's international trip to Singapore.

Having worked in the industry for a few years prior to enrolling in the program, Zollicoffer said he understands that everyone's journey toward an MBA is different.

"I didn't get mine until later on in my life and I think that's because I really wanted to get some experience first; which actually really helped since a lot of my classmates in my cohort were on all different levels. Some had just finished undergrad. Others were executives. It's just nice to see so many different people at different stages, from various industries, work and learn together," said Zollicoffer.

Now serving as the Vice President of Finance for StratiFi Health in Plano, Texas, Zollicoffer said that getting an MBA was so much more than just getting the degree. It was about growing and learning more as a working, experienced professional while still having the opportunity to meet many colleagues; including his now fiancé.

Finding the perfect formula to balance the competing factors during your decision-making process for your MBA is both difficult and challenging. By examining an anticipated career trajectory and ROI, choosing to pursue an MBA can add significant value and opportunities to your overall MBA post-graduation experience.

About Baylor's MBA Programs

Baylor's MBA Programs are designed strategically for professionals looking to take their careers to the next level in leadership. Rigorous MBA classes taught by dedicated faculty and industry experts offer both theoretical knowledge and the practical skills required to succeed in modern global business. Wherever you are in your career today, Baylor has an MBA program to fit your lifestyle and move you toward your professional goals: Full-Time MBA, Executive MBA in Dallas, Executive MBA in Austin, and an Online MBA.

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