Do You Regret Getting An MBA?

Q. What do women in their 40s say about going into debt for something like a masters degree?  Is it worth it?  Looking back, do they wish they had or hadn’t gotten their degree? – 20-something considering getting an MBA


A. A few women I interviewed regretted not getting an MBA. Very few regretted getting it. But none of the regrets came down to money.

Due to the implications of this debt there is more debate than ever on whether an MBA is worth it on a theoretical level. Some say it’s become cost of entry in certain industries as competition increases and a college degree alone is no longer a differentiator. Others say real world experience, especially working in a start up environment, is an experience that goes well beyond what is learned in grad school. But as this article in Fortune, for most it comes down to an emotional decision. But what do real women say about their experience?  Here a few share what they regret or didn’t about getting an MBA.


Dear 20-something,

My answer is to ask a couple of questions:  Will the MBA be likely to make a difference in your future career?  Or will it just be a fancy diploma on the wall?

Of course everyone likes the cache of having an advanced degree; but if that ultimately leaves you with huge debt and no better chance of getting your dream job, I don’t think it’s worth beginning your life with so much debt.  In fact, with so many loans you could end up compromising on many things; for instance you might have to take less desirable job that you hate just to be able to make those student loan payments.  You might also have to postpone buying a new car or your first house because the debt.  You might even be tempted to marry the “rich guy”, whom you don’t really love, instead of your soul-mate.

On the other hand, if the degree can get you a leg up in your career, then it could very well be worth it.  Getting an MBA from Harvard will open far more doors than getting a degree from “Joe’s School of Business and Burger-Flipping”

There is no one size fits all answer; do you want to be a lawyer, a librarian, a teacher, a doctor, an accountant or a deep-sea diver?  I suggest you start by talking to several people in your future career and decide what will ultimately get you to your to your goal, whatever it might be. – 40-something, doctor, Los Angeles, CA


I would say I’m really proud of my Master’s degree. I think if it’s the right fit for someone then go for it. Know that you’re going to have to make some sacrifices to go back and get an advanced degree but if you’re really passionate about it, do it! I was one of the few people who had to work during grad school. Most of the people in my program were very well off. Their parents were footing the whole bill and I would go to work every Saturday at Marshall Field’s on straight commission selling men’s clothing. And I was flat broke most of the time, down to my last 40 dollars and it was still totally worth it. – 40-something, PR, New York


Ultimately, if you can figure out how to pay for it, I think it is worth it. I have an MBA from a very reputable school, and while my career doesn’t necessitate an MBA the way banking does, I think the degree has opened a lot of doors for me. Further, depending on what degree you’re going after, it may teach you new perspectives that will be useful professionally and socially. Getting my MBA taught me some invaluable business and analytical perspectives that continue to guide my view of what’s going on in the markets and the world more generally.

I took out loans which I later paid, but with help from some family money. Do make sure you think through where the money is coming from before you commit. Many employers will pay for classes so it may be worth finding a job and working on the degree in an evening or weekend program. – 40-something, marketing director, NY, NY


I went to business school of Columbia. I didn’t know anything else I could do. I thought that’s what people did. Other choices didn’t seem practical. I think I wish I had known that there’s a lot of really more interesting things to do that I just didn’t know about. I went to college, worked at a bank in New York City and then to business school without really thinking about it.

I would say don’t just assume you should do something. Figure out what you would like to do and what would make you… think outside of whatever your family did or whatever the box was you were in that just seemed the way to go. Which I think some people do but I didn’t. I just jumped the path of least resistance, which was business school.- 40-something, consultant, Chicago, IL


I thought about going back to graduate school, maybe I was 24 or something when I thought like I’ll go back and I’ll get an MBA or I’ll get a degree of something that I was interested in. Then I thought, ‘no I’m too old. I’m already too old. I need to be working and I should be here in my career ‘.  Now I know I wasn’t too old and no decision I made then was final.


Don’t get an MBA just because you don’t know what you want to do. Going back to school is a very expensive way to figure out what you want to do. – 40-something, Phd, Los Angeles, CA

There are a ton or resources online to help determine what your debt load will be. Use them. Then try to separate reason from emotion in making your decision. Does the emotional payback outweigh the financial burden.


Some articles to start:



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