MBA Facts: What To Know Before You Apply

mba facts

These days, adding a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to your resume shows your stuff, boosts your skills, and opens doors to higher levels of pay and responsibility in your future career. But has it always been that way? When did the MBA become the gold standard for success in professional sectors like finance, consulting, and health care management?

At The MBA Exchange, we’ve been on the scene for more than a moment, with more than 5,000 clients served since 1996. We’ve seen b-school trends come and go – and we don’t think the value of an MBA degree is likely to drop any time soon!

Let us let you in on some of the MBA secrets and surprising facts we’ve learned during our decades working with MBA applicants around the globe.

The history of the MBA

Get your MBA degree and b-school history facts here! Understanding the past provides a doorway for insights into your future in the business world.

MBA programs started in the early 1900s

But don’t think the degree, like the business world, hasn’t changed a lot since then!

A quick history lesson to set the stage: In the early 20th century, business boomed as industrialization and increased global interconnection sped up the pace of international economies. Employers and business owners needed people who could handle the pace and complexity of modern commerce.

So top universities stepped up, developing MBA degree programs to fit this emerging need.

See any parallels to the current situation, with an increased need for specialized management, technology, and supply chain skills in modern sectors like consumer packaged goods (CPG)? With change as the only constant, the past becomes a prologue.

For 50 years, MBA was only in the United States

The United States – that hotbed of business development and innovation – led the way on MBA degrees, with Harvard at the forefront of the field. Originally offered through the Harvard University Graduate School of Administration in 1908, the Harvard Business School (HBS) MBA program still carries a high amount of prestige, both in the US and abroad.

In Europe and America, already-existing business schools like the Ecole Spéciale de Commerce et d’Industrie (currently ESCP Business School) in Paris, France, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (est. 1881) took notice.

The Wharton MBA program dates from 1921, with the Stanford Graduate School of Business starting up in 1925. By the 1950s, MBA programs had sprung up in Canada, South Africa, and France, taking the MBA degree international.

Now, you can find MBA programs all around the world, with more than a thousand in the US alone.

Benefits of an MBA today

MBA programs in today’s world handle commodities and technologies that the first MBA graduates could only dream of. But the value of an MBA degree remains high in the 2020s and is only getting higher as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2022.

MBA salaries are outstanding

Today, an MBA degree is your pathway to better business opportunities, including a higher average expected salary and the fast track for c-suite level promotion.

In fact, salaries for new MBA graduates have reached new heights in the last year, as the pandemic squeeze puts skilled employees at a premium. According to reporting from The Wall Street Journal, salaries for MBA graduates currently start at record levels.

Top US MBA programs like the Wharton School, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business saw significant growth in median salaries for new MBA graduates.

At Wharton and Booth, median salaries for new grads increased by $5,000 to reach a new high watermark of $155,000, the highest ever recorded median base salary for new Wharton MBAs. 99% of Wharton MBAs received job offers after graduation. At Duke Fuqua, annual MBA program graduate salaries increased by 4% to reach a new high of more than $141,000.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC™) estimates that 2021 graduates could see projected median salaries of $115,000, an all-time high.

MBA students are wholly employable

Just like in the 1900s, the goal of modern MBA programs is to produce graduates with a high degree of employability. Adding an MBA to your resume attests to your finance, technical, management, and communication skills. You may be able to specialize in areas like finance, consulting, or supply chain management.

MBAs are highly-desired employees in sectors like banking, hospital management, management consulting, tech, and start-ups. Many MBAs go on to start businesses and find success as entrepreneurs, as well.

Reviewing federal data, a Wall Street Journal analysis recently concluded that graduates from most MBA programs see earnings that outmatch funds borrowed for their MBA degrees. This is one graduate degree that’s likely to pay for itself!

Specialized management studies

As in the past, today’s MBA programs train students in the types of specialized management skills they need to succeed in competitive sectors of the economy. Those skills have changed quite a bit since the 1900s!

Depending on your career goals, MBA programs offer targeted courses of study to help you gain management knowledge and experience. In your 1-2 years of MBA coursework, you could discover the secrets of finance, the tricks of the trade for supply chain management, or the next big tech disruption algorithm.
Different types of MBA programs offer flexibility for traditional and non-traditional students alike. Online MBA programs give you global reach, and part-time and executive MBA (EMBA) programs let you earn an MBA while maintaining a busy work life and career. Consult with the MBA experts at The MBA Exchange if you’re not sure how to choose the right MBA program for your skills, experience, and goals.

MBA networking opportunities

This benefit remains as strong as ever over the years – earning an MBA puts you in contact with massively valuable networking opportunities.

You couldn’t ask for better chances to rub elbows with the brains and bosses of tomorrow than you’ll find at a top MBA program, in the US or abroad. And, after graduation, you continue to benefit from access to elite alumni networks. Earning an MBA is your shot to get your name out there and forge the connections that could define your future success.

Risks when it comes to MBA admissions

When considering an MBA education at a top business school, you can set out with a range of assumptions about your risks and rewards, viz.:

  • Slam dunk! Whenever I apply, I’ll be accepted so there’s no rush to prepare
  • No way! If I apply, I probably won’t get admitted so I won’t give it my best effort
  • Maybe later! If I wait and apply in the future, I’ll have a better chance of being admitted

But, for those who believe that acceptance is a given, awaiting only submission of an application, the result could be a rude awakening. The fact is, top b-schools have a surplus of highly qualified, highly motivated applicants every round.

And, if you don’t think you can make it in the door, you should know that there are aspects of every MBA candidacy that can be showcased, mitigated, or explained in a manner that will improve the chances of success.

Refining your MBA candidacy

Having a modest undergrad GPA, a below-average Graduate Management Admission Test or Graduate Record Examination (GMAT or GRE) score, an overrepresented professional profile, or a lack of current leadership responsibilities doesn’t necessarily tank your MBA candidacy.

A thorough, thoughtful admissions campaign can repair, revive and elevate your candidacy more than many applicants think possible. For example, you can retest with better test prep for a good GMAT score, or consider the benefits of trying the GRE instead of the GMAT, which can lead to higher comparative scores for some applicants.

Working with a top MBA admissions consulting group like The MBA Exchange gives you access to our wealth of application experience. We’ve supported more than 5,000 applicants over three decades. We hand-match you with the right MBA admissions consultant to help you polish up and refine your MBA candidacy for admissions success in 2022.

Background verification preparation and support

Individuals applying to business school have plenty of reasons to feel doubt, fear, and even paranoia. Application instructions can be confusing. Essay and interview questions can be frustrating. But there’s no element of the application process that fosters more uncertainty and anxiety than the final step – background verification.

You can help yourself by keeping written documentation close to hand for employment dates, titles, promotions, raises, and bonuses. Watch out for background check red flags, like achievements that sound exaggerated, credentials that could be difficult to prove, or job responsibilities that seem atypical.

And finally, have an expert advisor in your corner to help you strategize appropriately and respond convincingly. Background verification firms don’t give up easily or quickly when they sense a problem. 

One proven resource for admits to engaging is CounterCheck™ from The MBA Exchange. Working with a professional who, since 2011, has helped dozens of other MBA admits prevail can make all the difference for you.

Ready to apply to an MBA program?

When it comes to MBA admission, the most accurate assumption is that there are thousands of other candidates seeking the same positive outcome as you. So, starting the process soon, prioritizing the steps, and doing it right is the only way to win when you need to impress an MBA admissions committee.

Why not start with the facts on your candidacy and chances with a free, personalized evaluation from The MBA Exchange? Give us the deets on your background and goals, and our team provides you with a custom assessment of your candidacy. That way, you can make a confident, fact-based decision about how, when, and where to proceed as MBA application deadlines rapidly approach.