Quality Inexpensive MBA – Oxymoron?

I’m really thinking of pursuing an MBA. Unfortunately it looks like I’ll have to fund it myself.
Is there a well-respected program in the Chicago area or perhaps distance learning that is reasonably affordable?

I don’t know Chicago specifically, but in general the answer is “no”. Honestly, if it isn’t a top 10 MBA school, it probably is not worth the money.

Two cents from the 1990 class, Thunderbird School of International Management

The value of an MBA isn’t really in the coursework. It is in the contacts you develop and the ways that you learn to present yourself. The classes, mostly, are bullshit with a with a lot of group work.

So as a degree, it is not particularly well suited to distance learning.

What is your end goal for this?

I have a masters in engineering but frankly I’m at a dead end career wise because every higher job I look at moving into more or less requires an MBA. I know I can do the job, I need a good piece of paper.
I know the classes are bullshit but for some reason to move into an upper level position it’s a hurdle.

Do you have a cite for this? I’ve read much contempt for the on-lines (e.g., Phoenix), but I haven’t heard that only a top 10 will do. An accredited, respected University is critical, but it doesn’t have to be top 10. In this ranking, Yale is number 20, for Pete’s sake.

Depends on what you want to do.

If you want to move to middle management in an average corporation, and they have an MBA gate, and you pass all the other gating factors (i.e. you’ve been told the only reason you aren’t moving is the MBA) getting an MBA from anywhere accredited will do it. And if that move comes with either enough of a raise or increase in job satisfaction, then its worth the money.

Most of the middle managers I’ve worked with over the years have run of the mill MBAs - most of the VPs I’ve worked with have run of the mill MBAs.

The way even brain-dead entry-level positions require a degree these days; it’s easier to fill a position with someone who’s run that marathon than someone who doesn’t have such an often-irrelevant qualification. I used to do consulting work with a firm that was so full of itself on this point they literally boasted that their receptionist had a degree in Communications. All of the principals made sure to be addressed as Doctor and signed themselves “Ph.D.” - something that’s considered pretentious even in the loftiest business circles.

While the fad for MBAs passed some time ago, I am never surprised to hear a company won’t move anyone into any management position without one. It’s become like the worthless degrees teachers tack on to move up in the salary ranks.

Yale and even Harvard are not #1 at everything. I’d agree with the responses above as far as saying that while any-old MBA is good for any-old management job, being taken seriously as an Em Bee Ahy, God Dammit means you’d better get one from a top-ranked school or not waste your time and money.

“Being taken seriously”? By whom? Exactly what point are you making?

The post I responded to asserted that only a Top 10 MBA program is worth the money. I have never heard this and asked for a cite. Now you’re apparently saying the same thing based on…what exactly? In my experience, Dangerosa is correct. Most of the VPs I know, who are making well into the six figures, and some into the seven figures, have MBAs that are from fine, accredited, but-not-top-10 schools. Interestingly, there are only 10 schools in the Top 10. (I learned that getting my MBA, but it was not from a top 10 school, so you might not want to rely on it.)

Someone is asking for advice on quality MBA programs, and I’d suggest comments like yours and China Guy’s need some citations. Fighting ignorance and all that.

A few years ago I was at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting - and Warren and Charlie’s high horse that year (and there always is one - it was more Charlie than Warren), was MBAs, especially “top school” MBAs. A more worthless group of people have never existed. Unless maybe it was lawyers (Charlie is an attorney).

Now, the top managers have MBAs from Columbia (Todd) and Harvard (Ajit)- except Ted who only has a B.A. - but its from Wharton. And I suspect Ted may be the reason for the MBA rant.

I thought I was clear, but perhaps not.

There are degrees and degrees. There are whole “colleges” that award “degrees” of absolutely no worth to anyone except teachers, and they are taken seriously only by school districts - a summer and $2000 spent acquiring a “masters” or “doctorate” is good for a big jump on the salary track. They are worthless otherwise and most who acquire them hide them in a drawer. (But there was an English professor who insisted on being called “Doctor”… and then I saw the Nova University diploma framed on her wall…)

Same is true, to a degree, for MBAs from middling to diploma-mill schools. It’s a job ticket that opens some doors. It might represent some genuine education about business management principles and praxis. But no one’s going to get all round-eyed and go Ooooh! over a Phoenix University or Some State U. MBA. An MBA from one of the top-10 or so schools is a different matter: it opens other doors and brings inherent respect that the same letters on a fake parchment don’t.

Not making any value judgments here but it should take no extensive cites to understand that Phoenix MBAs don’t end up in the next office from Harvard MBAs.

If all you need is a job ticket, a cheap MBA is good enough. If you want to be taken seriously as a trained and connected business manager ready for Fortune-500 tasks, you’d better spend the money on the real thing. Maybe it’s all bullshit, both ways. But then, many things in “business” are.

There is one easy way to answer these questions. Go on LinkedIn. Look at the career trajectory of the people holding the position you want to hold (and the people likely to be interviewing you.) Where did they get their qualifications? Chances are you will see a trend. That should give you a good idea of what to do next.

So I worked for a Fortune 500. The second in command left because his Stanford MBA didn’t get him the top job. It went to a guy with a Bachelors in some liberal arts field from San Jose State (or some such college).

I’m in no way arguing that MBAs, top-tier or otherwise, are a guaranteed job ticket or any hallmark of ability and suitability. All things being equal, I’d hire a liberal arts degree from a real college over anything from a “pay your fees and get your B’s” job ticket mill.

It comes down to this, really: How can you possibly respect a degree issued by a school that BOASTS of not wasting its students’ time by teaching them anything outside the degree goal?

Because you don’t respect the degree - you respect the person holding the degree. If the Wharton MBA is bright - but an unethical tool - the MBA isn’t going to help. If the guy with an MBA from Florida State is bright, dedicated, and a good strategic thinker - plus has charisma and is in the right place at the right time - he can go much farther than the guy from Wharton.

I’m not saying that a top tier school won’t open doors - but it depends on if you need doors open and which doors you want to open - for someone like zoid - with a Masters in Engineering already - he may not need those sorts of doors open

It’s 100% dependent on industry. I can tell you that at my organization. 90% of the senior leadership came out of one of three or four schools, and probably 60% of middle management out of 10 or so schools. There are ways to get in if you aren’t from one of the inside schools, but it won’t be the easy way, as the junior executive type programs (which are your best bet for getting in on the entry level) basically only recruit from a handful of places.

Every industry is of course different and unless you want to be a management consultant I don’t think the effect is as strong for undergrad. But for grad school, in general it serves you well to go to the most-recognized school (in your industry) that you can swing, unless you are genuinely in a “I just need to check this box for the paperwork” situation.

And, of course, those not holding degrees aren’t worth consideration…

You went past my final comment - so I’d add “…and the guy with an MBA from Phoenix is a night-school corner-cutter best suited to supervising the shipping department.”

Maybe I misunderstood where you were drawing the line. I mentioned Phoenix in my first post as a school that gets lots of bad press and that is not taken seriously by many (most?) recruiters. But there’s a huge gap between Phoenix and Harvard.

My point was that saying only a top 10 school is worth the money is an assertion that needs some support. Everything I’ve read on MBAs (and I have one) leads me to conclude that no two people agree on their value, in general or by tier of school. But I haven’t seen anything that had stats behind. It’s always just argument by assertion, sometimes with an inconclusive stat thrown in for good measure.

My own opinion? So long as you have one from an accredited, respected school, it is at worst a “nice to have,” and generally at least the minimum required for many “upper middle” management jobs. I’m sure that a Harvard MBA opens some doors that mine does not. But that doesn’t mean it’s Harvard (or another top 10) or it’s worthless. That was my only point.

Do you know anyone with a Phoenix MBA? I do. He is Director of Sourcing for what, if it were headquartered in the U.S., would be a Fortune 500 company. Makes a tidy six figure income, plus options (which have done fairly well).

I also strongly disagree with this.

Yeah, if you have really, really, really high aspirations, then going to a very top tier school is helpful. But for any sort of regular person, the local state school MBA program is fine.

Stay away from from-profit schools or anything not properly accredited. Also be on the lookout for business programs that are not part of the regular day-time brick and mortar version of the department. All too many schools have a “special” business program for night people/distance learning that is just a diploma mill. Money comes in (usually paid by the students’ employers), diplomas go out. Those are not worth much. One sign is that you don’t enroll in the regular department but the Big Donor School of Business and the regular department makes it clear that the other thing is Someone Else’s Problem.

I am graduating with my mba from a state school in the top 50. It’s not terrible but it’s clearly not the best. As and engineer I thought it was very worth it because I learned a lot of things about business that I haven’t been exposed to in my decade in industry. My school costs 8k per semester. if you’re in Colorado I highly recomended it.

I’m using what ive learned to open my own distillery this fall and I started doing engineering consulting to give me the flexibility to afford to be the CEO at 40k a year but while a couple of people.have moved up to be directors of large non-profits no one is getting hired into a fortune 500 company.

I’d say your goals matter. I wanted to stay in Colorado and not have to quit my mid 6 figure job but still come out moving up in business. All my goals were met for less then 50k.