MBAs are dissatisfied with their degrees

February 20, 2018

MBAs are among the least satisfied graduate students, based on findings of a Gallup study, which was released on February 16 and published by Poets and Quants. Fewer than half (42%) of students who earned MBA degrees between 2000 and 2015 thought that their graduate work was worth the cost.

And it only gets worse when the rate is compared across graduate degrees, according to Gallup.

The poll of more than 4,000 U.S. adults also included graduates earning doctoral degrees, medical degrees, law degrees, master’s of science, and master’s of arts degrees—and only one other degree had a lower rating among respondents than the MBA. That was the law degree, which had a “strongly agree [that it was valuable]” rate of only 23%. Considering the law degree’s rising costs and plummeting value in the market, that’s not good company

Doctoral degrees had the highest rate of satisfaction, at 64%; followed by medical degrees, at 58%.

Next, Gallup asked grads to rate how strongly they felt their graduate education prepared them for life after school. Again, only 23% strongly agreed that their MBA degrees prepared them well for life beyond B-school. (And again, only law graduates gave lower marks, at 20%.) This time, medical school graduates gave the highest marks, with exactly half strongly agreeing that their degree prepared them well for life after school.

“Likely contributing to their lower ratings of their degrees, postgraduates who received MBAs and those who received law degrees also are less likely than other postgraduate degree holders to report having had important support and experiential learning opportunities during their graduate programs,” the report reads.

Indeed, the results get even worse for the MBA when graduates were polled on their academic support and experiential learning opportunities. Asked whether their professors cared about them as people, only 19% of MBAs strongly agreed — lower than any other degree field. Again, those earning doctoral and medical degrees had the highest rates, at 37% and 35%, respectively.

 Just 14% of MBAs strongly agreed that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their “goals and dreams” — again, lower than any other field. Medical degrees led the category with 54% and doctoral degrees followed with 49%.

But the study should be taken with a few grains of salt, the Gallup researchers advise. First, the poll size — around 4,000 people — is not a large universe considering it stretched across so many degree programs for so many years. And it’s important to remember that it spans a period that included the Great Recession, when an MBA was seen as less valuable if earned around that time. Lastly, Gallup doesn’t specify where the degrees were earned.

Gallup’s findings also run counter to what other recent studies have shown. Last year, for example, in its annual survey of business school alumni, the Graduate Management Admission Council found that 91% of 2016 graduates attained work within six months of graduating, with 88% saying their degree was key to getting their current job— and 96% rating their MBA’s value as “good” to “outstanding.” The GMAC survey, moreover, covers a broad range of schools from the top to the bottom of the rankings.

Research contactdatainquiry@gallup.com

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