Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is it worth it to get your MBA?

One of my close friends in Waterloo’s Math/CA program who is still an undergraduate is pursuing his CA and CFA, and has now decided that he also needs an MBA to succeed in life.

Apparently, you need two professional designations, two master degrees, and a very prestigious Bachelor of Math from the University of Waterloo to have any chance of surviving in this world.

At what point is enough, enough?

I mean, in 10 years, his business card is going to look like this:

John Doe, CA, CFA, MBA, MAcc, BMath

Where is the stopping point?

I mean, why not get a PHD in Tax as well?

At some point, with so many things behind your name, your business card looks more like a laughing matter, as opposed to something impressive.

I have long considered getting an MBA.

But at the end of the day, I think I was more attracted to the fact of having an MBA behind my name as opposed to what an MBA would do for me. I think this is true for a lot of people.

I’m not anti – MBA. But as an accounting graduate, I don’t really see how an MBA helps me. Sorry, let me rephrase that. I think the opportunity cost is really high. If you are an engineering graduate or liberal arts degree, I can understand the value of an MBA. You learn a bit of everything. You learn how to read balance sheets; you learn some finance. It is quite a valuable asset.

With an accounting background, I already know all that.

“An MBA is not about the education; it’s about the experience and the contacts.”

This is true. But you can say the same about any other type of education. You can make contacts anywhere. How you make friends and contacts is the “struggle” you face together. I’ve made friends and contacts in my bachelor degree that will help me in a lifetime. Just by entering an MBA program, does that imply I will get superior friends and contacts?

“An MBA teaches you to manage. You can’t do that with an accounting degree”

That is like learning to drive a car without actually driving a car. Management and Business is learned by doing. You can’t learn from studying it.

To me, the MBA seems like a waste of time. I'm happy with my undergrad experience and would much rather do business as opposed to learn more about it.

I'm interested in other people's thoughts.

Even be skeptical of an Online MBA because you probably don't need it.


  1. Your friend should get his PHD and become a professor and live the good life. He seems to like school enough.

  2. I've heard from my business teacher in high school that usually having higher level degrees that are not necessary for the positions you are applying for could handicap you.

    Higher level of degrees and designations means you demand a higher level of salary, which some companies will not pay unless as I said before it is absolutely necessary (aka needing a CA designation).

    I think at the end of the day they care more about work experience then the degrees you have.

    If you could clarify the points I made it would be really helpful.


  3. In Quebec, some universities offer your MBA along with your CA just by doing 9 more credits, or none at all, depending on where you go. I understand the situation is probably different in the rest of Canada though. Great blog btw!

  4. I'm with you there - if you already have your CA, an MBA is little more than a glorified BComm. Actually that's pretty much all it is.

  5. I agree that you'll learn more from "doing". I have experienced this first-hand during a summer work term at an accounting firm - I've taken maybe 10% of what I've learned from a textbook and applied it here. The learning curve was immense.
    In regards to obtaining an MBA, I spoke with some my superiors, and most said that they would hire a candidate with the experience required for the position hands down over someone with a MBA.
    As for developing contacts, I agree that you can meet a LOT of people while obtaining your bachelor degree - given that you make an effort to interact with your peers and professors, get involved with student groups etc....(You need to make the most of your university experience!)
    Personally, I believe it ultimately boils down to what an individual values and the personal satisfaction they receive from obtaining such a degree.

  6. good stuff =),

    very high knowledge

  7. The annoying thing is that some employers actually demand that you finish an MBA or eMBA (executive MBA) before they promote you apparently.

    On the other hand, having too many designations can indeed be a handicap. Employers don't like to hire overqualified people because once they find something better, they'll leave the company for something that pays better.

  8. It's laughable how some people don't have a clue how the world works and yet have devoted so much time to academics. In regards to this blog, a CA nowadays would cover pretty much everything an MBA would. A few decades ago an MBA was a requirement for all management positions. Times are changing, and to keep up with the trends, people need to keep up to date with the world. Work smarter, not harder.

  9. Education is good as long as there's a need for it. At the very beginning, our education is important, because we do need to learn, but as life goes on, constantly adding degrees to yourself becomes redundant and is really not worth it, especially if it overlaps like that.

    Experience really does beat education, education only gets you in the front door, but if you want to make something out of yourself, then education doesn't do that as well as you think.

  10. I would imagine your arguments apply more for BBA grads than Waterloo accounting grads. Waterloo isn't very well rounded in terms of business courses (law/marketing).

    ICAO says MBA makes 10k more annually... but I suspect a large part of that is due to age differences. I would say that if you got into a top tier business school, the expense would be justified. (HBS MBA grads average over 100k out of school I believe)

  11. You can attest it all you want. If you and a peer coworker are both trying for that Accountant III or IV position within your firm, I'd much rather be the one sitting there with an MBA than the one without!

    Education doesn't only get your foot in the door as Jenny said, it can keep you +1 when your coworkers turn into competitors!

  12. Accountant knows only the technical accounting aspects of the business. What more does he do to understand the operations of the company or let me put it this way..What does he do to understand the business model of a company, its operations, its logistics, the marketing of the firm's products, etc. It is only in MBA that you learn the basics of each and every business function and not just Accounting..

    This comment is from my personal experience, as I am a CA, CFA and an MBA !!!

  13. I am a CA with a big four & have had friends who have left the firm to pursue managerial positions in the industry. MBA is by no means a necessity to get a high managerial position. If you look at the CA curriculum, it covers management, costing, finance, etc already. Getting an MBA on top of a CA is really not going to add much value (unless you get it from a premier institute) - but then again you have to look at the opportunity cost. CA's with 4-5 years of experience make around 100K - if you take 2 years off to do an MBA - it will not be worth the opportunity cost (200K & time lost as a loss of experience & promotions).. spending two years of your life, loosing the salary, the promotions, the raises, etc to get an MBA doesnt sound like a good trade-off..

    Thats my honest opinion..

    Good luck..

  14. MBA is not about the networking or managmeent skills.

    It all about he credential. you can apply for higher level jobs.

    If you need it for networking... then u gotta know that u suck at networking.