I graduated from the part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2019. An MBA degree has long been considered one of the most prestigious and valuable qualifications in the business world. However, despite its popularity and reputation, many MBA programmes also faces a number of significant challenges, such as its attractiveness to prospective students, global ranking and graduates' career prospects. Besides, a frequently asked question by my friends is whether an MBA programme is worth it or not.
One of the major challenges facing MBA programme is the declining number of applicants. For example, the Hong Kong MBA programme has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and political unrest, resulting in the number of applications to MBA programmes falling for the third consecutive year. This trend is still a cause for concern for business schools. There are several factors that may be contributing to this decline in MBA applications. One possible reason is the increasing cost of MBA programmes, which can put them out of reach for many international students. Another potential factor is the lower recognition of qualifications by employers, especially in Singapore, which lowers the perceived value of the investment.
In my opinion, whether an MBA programme is worth it or not depends your personal career goals, personal and the specific MBA programme you are considering. It can be a valuable investment in your career, as it can provide graduates with a wide range of business skills and knowledge, including leadership, strategic thinking, financial analysis, and communication skills. These skills can be highly sought after by employers and can help graduates to advance your careers and increase your earning potential. More importantly, the network and the people I met through the MBA programme have widened my horizons and enabled me to think from a different perspective. Keeping an open mind can also open doors to many new opportunities.
Another challenge facing the MBA programme is the variable nature of international rankings. While rankings can be a useful tool for students when deciding which MBA programme to apply to, they can also be unreliable and inconsistent. Different ranking systems use different criteria and methodologies, which can result in vastly different results. This can make it difficult for prospective students to accurately compare and evaluate different MBA programmes.
In fact, many people are not aware of the formula used for the Financial Times business school ranking. It only considers full-time MBA students and excludes the part-time programme. Graduates from many years ago also impact the ranking by filling in the survey. If graduates are not aware of the email or are unable to provide updated salary increments, it could lower the school's ranking. Additionally, for graduates who relocate to a different area or switch careers, this could have a negative impact on the scores, which is not necessarily a fair game to play.
Finally, graduates of MBA programmes may face challenges in finding employment and advancing in their careers. While an MBA can provide valuable skills and knowledge, it is not a guarantee of success in the business world. It could be a passport that opens a few doors, but graduates may face stiff competition for top jobs. Additionally, the current economic climate can make it difficult to find employment. For example, there may be retrenchment and a shrinking of associate-level opportunities in the investment banking field. Employers may not be willing to hire MBA graduates, but rather prefer hiring someone with other experiences.
Personally, I find the the value of an MBA degree may be diminishing. It can lead to a situation where an MBA is no longer a minimum requirement for certain jobs, and it is no longer a differentiator that sets candidates apart. This is not a good news to the society, because we should value the diversity of background and open up opporunties for those who are ambition with good potential and give them a chance to proof themselves. Otherwise, the society would have a social mobility issue, where doors are open to a few lucky ones, rather than the one who pay the effort and merit to climb up the carrer ladders.
Overall, many MBA programme faces a number of challenges nowadays that can impact its attractiveness to prospective students and graduates' career prospects. While these challenges are significant, they also provide an opportunity for business schools to adapt and innovate in order to meet the changing needs of students and the business world. By addressing these challenges head-on, MBA programmes can continue to provide a valuable education and prepare graduates for successful careers in the future. As a CUHK MBA graduate, my experience is that it provided good quality education, excellent career prospects, and a unique position to study China business. This is particularly useful for international students who want to learn how to do business with China.
Ultimately, the decision to pursue an MBA programme should be based on a careful evaluation of the costs and benefits involved. You should consider your career goals, personal circumstances, and financial situation before making a decision. You should also research different MBA programmes and consider factors such as accreditation, reputation, curriculum, and alumni networks. By doing so, you can make an informed decision about whether an MBA programme is worth it for them. If you are interested in learning more about the CUHK MBA programme, feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn. I would be happy to answer your questions.