Earning a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) was once an essential part of building a career in business.
But getting an MBA can be a huge personal and financial undertaking, and in today's rapidly-changing business landscape, there are some who feel that the degree has lost its relevance.
"After all," bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch tells CNBC Make It, "if college dropouts can become billionaires and CEOs, then who needs an MBA, right?"
But before you reject the idea entirely, Welch says to consider the specific situations in which going back to school is actually a smart decision. Below, she shares the only four reasons she believes anyone should earn an MBA today:
It's easy to get stuck in an industry that no longer fulfills you, particularly in the beginning of your career. When this happens, you may need to make a career pivot.
"That kind of change is often only possible with a new credential," Welch says, "like an MBA."
An MBA is no longer the requirement that it once was in so many fields, and there are some industries that allow you to advance continually simply by continuing to gain more experience and demonstrate your talent. But even today, Welch explains, "there are a handful of industries that still essentially require an advanced degree."
For example, she says, "good luck getting into consulting or finance without an MBA."
If you're not yet entirely self-assured at work, earning an MBA can help you to gain the extra knowledge and confidence you need. Welch emphasizes that enrolling in an MBA program will allow you to "ask questions and pitch ideas in a 'safe place,' and in the process, gain the mojo you need to take on the real world."
Welch admits that this fourth reason is her personal favorite. As a reporter with an art degree, she suddenly found herself asked to cover business — and she needed an MBA.
"This situation also applies to people who are functional experts in marketing, or R&D or HR," she says. These people, she says, will stay functional experts if they don't expand their knowledge and widen their perspective.
"Earning an MBA can be expensive and time-consuming, and it is true that they aren't as necessary as they once were," she says. "But if any of these four reasons sound familiar to you, don't count an MBA out. It might be just the thing you need to get where you want to go."
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo
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