Going to business school doesn’t come cheap. For business master's students in Europe, programs can cost anywhere between $20k and $60k: a significant investment for candidates straight off the back of a bachelor’s degree.
But masters students can expect a strong return on their investment. From career acceleration, to upskilling, to maximizing your salary, there are many ways a business master’s degree will pay off.
BusinessBecause spoke to admissions directors from Europe’s top business master’s programs, who gave us eight reasons why a business master’s is worth the investment.
1. Gain a competitive edge
Amy Duckworth, director of admissions at Imperial College Business School
Graduates are facing the toughest job market for a decade. As many employers have frozen or reduced recruitment, there is a much higher volume of candidates applying for fewer jobs.
Investing in a master’s can give you the competitive edge to stand out from the crowd.
“Entering the job market and starting to forge a career in your chosen area is tough. It is very competitive, and it can feel difficult to navigate,” Amy explains. “A business master’s from Imperial will allow you to broaden your experience, calibrate your career goals and differentiate yourself in the job market.”
2. Meet your future business partner
Hannah Page, marketing & admissions manager at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management
Your classmates can be one of your most powerful assets on a master’s program. Most students say they learn as much from their peers as they do from their professors.
These connections continue to pay off well into your career. “At university you are a student for life,” Hannah says. “This isn’t just for sitting in a classroom and learning. It’s a network you’ll have access to for life.”
For many, these fruitful connections might even lead to business partnerships. Hannah points to the founders of e-commerce group Zalando, who met at WHU, as did the founders of home-cooking startup Hello Fresh
3. Upskill yourself
Virginie Fougea, global director of admissions at INSEAD
COVID-19 has permanently disrupted the business landscape, requiring many professionals to rethink their careers and update their skill set to remain relevant. A master’s is the perfect opportunity to do this.
“It is likely that many companies will undergo some form of restructuration, and unfortunately, some offices will close down,” Virginie says.
“For all these reasons and many more, now more than ever, workers need to stay relevant and keep acquiring new skills to adequately respond to the new environment.”
4. Learn what employers want
Shani Pearson, international recruitment lead at BI Norwegian Business School
If you’re going to business school to find a new job, a master’s is certainly worth it.
Networking is a strong focus of master’s programs, helping students to meet representatives from big companies and make those all important connections that can pay off with employment.
“Insight from business informs the curriculum which helps students develop the management skills needed and gain the knowledge required to navigate new career paths,” Shani says.
“These links allow students to interact with corporations, leaders, and recruiters as they develop their own network.”
5. Think like a CEO
Tomofumi Nishida, associate director of MBA/MiM admissions at IESE Business School
For candidates with lofty ambitions, investing in a master’s can help you start to understand the roles and responsibilities of a business leader.
“These programs are for younger talent with less than two years work exp, but from a masters they can take on the viewpoint of a senior person in a company from an early stage in their career,” Tomo explains.
“Of course they have to start their career from a lower position, but having a broader view—looking at every business challenge from a higher viewpoint—will make such a difference to their growth and influence on other people.”
6. Enhance your career flexibility
Stephanie Thrane, recruitment & admissions director at London Business School
Millennials and Gen Z-ers can expect to work across a number of different roles and industries over their career. With a rapidly changing business landscape post-COVID, master’s students benefit greatly from a flexible and adaptable skill set.
“Unlike our parents' generation who worked in the same organization for 25 years, people today want global mobility, flexibility to shift jobs every five to ten years in different companies and locations,” says Stephanie
“At LBS, that’s where the real return on investment comes, because you’re buying into a global network that will enable you to continue with those shifts throughout your career.”
7. Maximize your salary
Boban Sulic, senior admissions manager at ESMT Berlin
Return on investment can be quite literal: master’s students, should they desire to, can expect to earn high salaries after they graduate. That’s one particular reason not to worry about the financial investment in a master’s.
“Business master's programs strategically prepare students for leadership roles. Students learn how companies work from the inside, how teams work best, and how tasks are distributed sensibly.”
“All this makes them fit for a management job in the future, one that generally pays much better than what they would be earning with a bachelor’s degree.”
8. Boost your personal growth
Leon Laulusa, dean for academic affairs and international relations at ESCP Business School
While salary, skills, and jobs are all good measures of success, some of the payoffs from a master’s are more personal, and less tangible.
Over the course of the program, master’s students can expect to grow and develop as an individual which can be far more meaningful than any number of hard skills.
“Through their student life (student societies, clubs, etc), business schools allow students to develop their personal and social skills while making memorable friendships and life-long bonds.”
And...it might not be as expensive as you think
Veronica Sullo, international recruitment coordinator at Bocconi University
While the price tag of a business master’s may be high, schools offer plenty of ways to reduce the cost of studying.
“It’s important to understand the value of an investment of a master’s which is usually $20-to-30k. But many universities also offer very good merit scholarships to students they believe could make an impact during university and in the future,” Veronica explains.
Bocconi, she says, offers a number of scholarships based on academic performance, on GMAT score, among other categories, which can cover up to 100% of your tuition fees.
Given the different levels of pay off and the number of long term benefits students can expect, a master’s is certainly worth the investment.