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Furthering your education: What are the ‘degree-specific’ benefits offered by an MBA?

An MBA can be a route to a promotion, higher salary, building your professional reputation or managing your own business

It is often said that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to further your education. There are innumerable and immeasurable benefits from doing so. For those undertaking a master’s in business administration (MBA), however, there are a number of degree-specific benefits.

Choosing to complete an MBA is not a decision one takes lightly. Often, it is completed part-time on top of a full-time job, with the cost of the course coming in at about €35,000.

It affects every aspect of your life for the duration of your studies, and individuals choosing to undertake it must be ready to balance the workload with the already busy nature of modern life. And so, as a result, it is important that those considering applying for an MBA know exactly what they will get in return for that sacrifice.


By and large, due to its perception of broadening an employee’s skillset in a sector-flexible way, it is a route to a promotion, higher salary, building a professional reputation and even managing or owning a business.


There are, like any university degree, some entry requirements. Most universities require a primary degree to be eligible for a place on an MBA course. Many also stipulate that you must have earned a 2.1 in that degree.

However, they do often allow work experience in lieu of these degrees.

But while some level of work experience is often an eligibility requirement for MBA courses, it doesn’t have to be in a business or finance background. As a result, the programmes often have a diverse student demographic.

According to Colin Hughes, head of the graduate business school at TU Dublin, this is one of the biggest benefits of studying an MBA.

“It allows students to learn about different sectors. Industries can have a groupthink perspective, and this broadens that for individuals,” he said.

Not only does it broaden and open their mind to different opinions, but it also introduces applicants to new industries with which they may not have previously been familiar. Hughes said there is “huge movement” among those who do MBAs.

Network of contacts

“We would see that about 40 per cent of people change jobs during the MBA. And a huge number change jobs after the MBA. The easiest pathway is movement within the company, but we also see people move across their sector or move into a new sector altogether,” Hughes said.

“We see that a lot, moving sector or setting up their own business in a new sector.”

The make-up of the course also means after graduation, these individuals will have an enormous network of contacts, an invaluable asset in the world of business. These will be hugely beneficial if you need someone to run a problem by, want to collaborate with or need a way into another industry.

The curriculum within an MBA is broad by design, but many in Ireland are AMBA-accredited, which is a quality standard, and which provides guidance on what the course should cover.

Largely, they are practice-based, and research-informed, providing an overview of how every part of a business works.

Furthermore, given the world of work being in constant evolution, Hughes said it teaches individuals how to work in a malleable environment. With sustainability, for example, coming to the fore in recent years, MBAs now seek to teach workers to be “comfortable with change”, he added.

And while many people opt for an MBA for professional development, there is also large personal development, Hughes said. “I always say an MBA is like a two-year reflective exercise. It gives a person the ability to reflect. It shows them how to step back and analyse a situation and what you would do differently,” he said.

“It builds their confidence a huge amount. And really develops their business acumen.”

He added: “Teamwork is another one. There is a lot of group work, and we tend to mix the groups up, so you get to work with different personalities and learn how to deal with that.”

The biggest takeaway from an MBA, however, Hughes said, is the refinement of critical-thinking skills.

“You understand what’s good data that you can rely on. You understand how to leverage that data,” he added.

Huge range of options

“You learn how to develop strategy, build teams, coach people. These are things that are new to these applicants. They are typically who are moving into leadership roles and they feel that doing an MBA will give them a better understanding of the breadth of a business.”

But while these skills are all great, what does it actually mean for the person who has completed the MBA? Quite a lot, according to Hughes.

Many people get promoted or work their way up a career ladder, others take the entrepreneurial nature of an MBA and apply it to their own lives by setting up their own business. In reality, there are a huge number of options for people with an MBA on their CV.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times