More and more military students are looking towards business school as a chance to build on their existing skills while gaining a holistic understanding of business.
There are many military friendly MBA programs dotted around the world and these institutions provide a supportive space for veterans to delve into business and management.
Here are some top reasons to join an MBA for military students:
An MBA for military students offers a new challenge
In search of a new challenge, students with military experience are often attracted to the bright lights of business school.
Military friendly MBA programs offer an opportunity for veterans to use their transferrable skills in a new setting and add another string to their bow.
This is exactly why Marine Corps veteran Joseph Corrigan was motivated to join an MBA program at the Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Strome College of Business.
Joseph served in the Marine Corps for almost five years in an HR and business partner role where he was involved in areas such as supervising enlisted marines, conducting training, reviewing contracts between units, and supporting his unit to follow military regulations.
“It was a rewarding role that helped me gain a grounding in business areas such as consulting and working with others,” he says.
Towards the end of his time in the military, Joe met his wife—a serving Navy officer—and this is when he decided he wanted to find a more settled career and move into a consulting role.
Joining a flexible MBA program in the areas where his wife would be posted was important to him and so he settled on Norfolk, Virginia—the home of ODU.
“The fact that it was a highly rated program and offers asynchronous learning was a big plus for me,” he says.
The ODU MBA is one of the most military friendly MBA programs in the US, with a quarter of ODU students coming from military backgrounds.
“It worked out great that [at ODU] everyone has a similar background or exposure to that background,” he says.
Benefit from tuition fee waivers on an MBA for military students
Those who want to join MBA programs for veterans can often be eligible for tuition fee waivers that cover up to 100% of fees.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is just one of these funding options, providing financial assistance to eligible veterans that covers all or part of the costs of education.
There are also federal and state funding options, such as the Yellow Ribbon Program, and other private alternatives that can alleviate the financial burden of MBA programs.
At ODU, there’s also the opportunity to join the Graduate Research Assistant scheme, which offers tuition-fee waivers to students in exchange for administration, research, or HR related work.
Leverage military skills in a new business context
Formal business education can help veterans pinpoint their skills and attributes gained from military experience while getting to deep dive into unfamiliar subject matters.
From his time in the Marine Corps, Joseph had vast experience in management of military forces, yet he says this doesn’t always naturally translate to managing a civilian workforce.
“The culture in the private sector is different and how people respond is different, so I wanted to learn about how to be a manager outside the military,” he says.
On the ODU MBA, Joe took courses in core business areas such as finance, accounting, and statistics.
“Without a mathematical mindset, it’s hard to understand why certain business decisions are made,” he says.
His MBA courses in leadership and management also improved his soft skills and ability to manage in times of crisis and uncertainty.
Access Booz Allen Hamilton jobs and other top consulting roles
Veterans who graduate from business school are likely to have their pick of career opportunities.
After completing the ODU MBA, Joseph signed up to Hire Heroes USA—a program that works with military spouses and the military to support in the career search. Through the program’s connections, he was offered an interview at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in Pensacola, Florida.
It’s not just any consulting firm either—Booz Allen Hamilton work on projects with the military and federal agencies so it was a chance for Joseph to leverage his military expertise in a new line of work.
After an initial internship as a military spouse fellow, Joe has worked his way up to an associate project manager at the global consulting firm.
“The MBA courses have really helped me deliver value to clients,” he says, “I’ve got a strong sense of how to manage different priorities and the importance of diligence.”
His business school degree set him apart as the company has footprint in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, where ODU is based, and regularly recruits MBA talent.
“Both ODU and my current company valued my military experience and understood the hurdles of transitioning to a civilian role—this kind of support gives you the confidence to go far,” he says.