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The ROI of an MBA from Boise State’s online MBA Director, Ally Daniels (Webinar Transcript)

This Boise State Online MBA webinar explores how a student can maximize their return on investment with an education at Boise State University through the online MBA program.

Video Transcript

Today’s topic is talking about what is the ROI of an MBA? And first, as any good instructor in any of our programs will do. They will define what we’re talking about. And acronyms are the name of the game in business. As you all know, health care as well.

And so let’s talk about our ROI return on investment. That is typically one of the biggest questions I get asked when I’m talking to new or prospective students, you know, why would I invest my time, my money into an MBA program?

What am I going to get out of it? And, you know, there’s kind of two ways to look at ROI that I walk students through and we talk about our ROI a lot in a business sense. But even personally, you know, we look at it from either kind of a monetary calculation or looking at it from kind of what are the soft returns, what are the intangibles, those that really you can’t quantify with a dollar amount or a percentage amount.

So first off, kind of looking at that money or that calculation you see here a formula that is really typical when we’re looking at our ROI in a finance sense, you know, what is the value, less the cost and divide that over the cost of the MBA. So in layman’s terms, you know, if I put in X amount of dollars into an MBA, what’s that value amount that I’ll get on the back end relative to my investment?

And yes, that’s one way to look at it. And we’ll talk about kind of how to maximize the monetary value of the MBA. But I really also love to focus on kind of the softer returns.

How does an MBA increase your confidence, your networking, your critical thinking, negotiation and leadership skills, things that you may not necessarily be able to draw back to a dollar amount but will increase your job satisfaction, will increase your earning potential over time, will increase just the possibilities and opportunities and the doors that are open to you because of these skills that you’re growing.

So first off, let’s talk about on our next slide, Benjamin, what some recent students have said about the ROI for them of the online MBA program. So our most recent graduating class of 2021 completes a survey with every graduation cohort.

And most recently, we found that 86% of our graduates said that the online MBA program provided a positive ROI for them.

And keep in mind, this is students just within two weeks of graduating, completing the program. So this really hasn’t even necessarily gone into what has happened post-MBA yet.

Really, what they’re seeing already and what I hear from students anecdotally very often is that even throughout the program, they’re actually seeing salary increases, they’re seeing promotions, they’re seeing more satisfaction with what they’re doing throughout the program.

And what I really attribute that to is the relevance and the applicability of the Boise State MBA that they are getting promotions because what they’re doing in class is applying to their work the next day.

So you can also see that kind of expanding upon that. 72% of our respondents said that they saw a salary increase during their time in the program.

So considering that our program you can complete in as few as 12 months on average students complete in 24 months or two years, that’s a pretty, pretty significant quick turnaround of that investment when you’re already seeing salary increases, even while you’re in the program. The average salary increase reported was $14,000, about 18% increase throughout the program.

So we’ve talked a little bit about the monetary increase. And next slide for me, Benjamin, I want to talk kind of broader. You know, I understand that you may be considering other MBA programs or even other master’s programs or other options.

So, I want to kind of make this generic and help you with your search or even just with your decision to pursue an MBA program.

So first off, how do you maximize that dollar value return of an MBA? And I have a couple of tips here, but really what that starts with is picking a high-quality and affordable MBA program.

So, as a point of reference, I was actually just looking here today at some of the Ivy League MBAs. And those programs run in the ballpark of 100 plus thousand dollars for an MBA program.

Obviously, that’s a very different program and has different reasons for the high-cost part of it is just the audience that they’re selecting and looking for. But really, if you’re going to maximize the dollar value ROI of your MBA, you want to pick one that’s affordable but yet still high quality. And I will say that Boise State does fall into kind of a niche that we’ve found over the years.

Our price point with a scholarship is right around $31,000. So we are not going to be into those upper echelons of 90, $100,000 MBAs. But we also are a high-quality program that pays our faculty well.

We have, well, reputable courses and reputation and brand awareness and networking opportunities that make us still a quality program for a good cost.

So I do also encourage you to kind of be skeptical, if you will, of some programs that are 14,000, $10,000 programs. There are programs that have very, very few credits.

There are programs that hire only part-time faculty that may not be associated with their business school. They cut costs at the sacrifice of quality. And so it’s really for me about helping you find kind of that balance and that middle ground of a high-quality program that’s still affordable.

This comes from my financial aid days, but my next tip is really to consider all funding options. So tuition reimbursement, scholarships, get creative here. Talk to the folks in your company. Think about what other benefits might be possible.

I actually just spoke with a student a few months ago who didn’t believe that his company had any tuition reimbursement possibilities and he was able to actually go speak with his manager in his HR Department and come up with kind of a side deal where they were able to take his conference and training budget and actually use that for his MBA as a form of professional development.

So please do understand and know what your tuition reimbursement is. And if there isn’t any options, you know, be asking the questions and seeing what might be available.

Scholarships are, I will say, rare oftentimes for MBA programs, especially part-time MBA programs. But you may find some opportunities again with your employer.

Also, ask with the universities. So for Boise State, we do offer scholarships for military experience, significant work experience also for alumni and other rural opportunities if you’re part of a rural community in Idaho and a rural program so we have some other opportunities and I encourage you to kind of turn over every stone you never know what might be there .

The other thing, Kelli, kind of with that is, I’m happy to talk with you offline, but Boise State has really great benefits for tuition that I’m sure you’ve explored.

But should you have any questions? I know Jennifer, Nikki, and Benjamin are great resources, but I can also talk to you about kind of Boise State benefits as well.

One of the things I really recommend is defining your career goals to help maximize the dollar value of your MBA. What I mean by this is really helping to understand how will an MBA impact your career and how do you want it to impact in the future?

So, the example here is that oftentimes, you know, I talk to students who say, gosh, I’m in an H.R. function, but I really have decided I love marketing.

That’s great. Understand how an MBA helps you get into that area, and sometimes it may or may not meet your career goals. If you’re looking for a really, really technical role, you want to be in, you know, crunching all the numbers and not necessarily be a leader. In all honesty, an MBA may not be the right opportunity for you and our team.

What I appreciate about our admissions team is we are really well-equipped to advise you and coach you on and if an MBA is the right option. Because the bottom line is, if an MBA doesn’t help you lead you towards your career goals, you’re never going to see that ROI and really, we want to make sure that that MBA is the right fit for you from the get-go so that you can realize not only that monetary advancement, but also career satisfaction and personal satisfaction with the knowledge that you’re receiving. So really define that early on.

I always encourage students to ask. The answer is always no unless you ask. So like I talked about meeting with your employer, talking about support not only from the perspective of potential tuition reimbursement but also it might get to a point where you’re seeing value that you’re adding throughout your program, in your learning.

And you may need to be able to ask for a promotion or a raise based on the new skills and professional development that you’re experiencing.

So in order to do that and really to see that dollar value and your salary potentially increase, we’re very equipped to talk with you about how to have that negotiation, how to talk with your supervisor or leaders about comparable data.

You know, this is what other MBAs are making. This is kind of aspirational. This is where I’d like to be, especially right now, where employees have such bargaining powers within their organization and a short tight supply of employees. Now is a time to really be thinking about maximizing your potential with your company or even outside of your company.

So, I encourage you to review your job description and accomplishments, whether it’s during the program or post-MBA, and be prepared to even look outside your existing company and talk about total compensation.

You know, how else can you be maximizing that return from your MBA because you deserve to be recognized for those new skills and possibilities that you can bring to that organization.

Also, make sure you’re using your network. It’s important, during the program, whatever MBA program that you choose, really began building that network, using team projects and opportunities to make really meaningful connections.

And it may not seem that those connections are valuable in the short term, or maybe they are, but you never know where things may end up afterwards.

I, all the time connect our students with alumni or connect our students with other students. I just had a student today who really finished her capstone project, realized that she wanted to kind of move from a smaller company, a family-owned company, to a more corporate environment, and had Nike in her sights.

And we were able to connect her with the alumni from Nike and actually talk about doing some job shadowing and what that may look like.

And so really in that sense, you know, the capacity for her to look at new opportunities was really possible with her MBA and the network that that provided.

And it’s kind of a final note on that, is use your resources, whether that’s me as the director, your advisor, professors. We have an internal COBE career services.

And so no matter which program you end up with, please take advantage of the resources. Those are incorporated into your MBA for a reason.

Whether that’s helping with resume polishing that up, whether it’s interview techniques, whether it’s again just making those connections with alums, it’s really important to use those resources.

You’re paying for them. They’re part of your MBA program. You should reap the benefits of that with searching for possibly a higher salary or other ventures and opportunities that may lead to.

So next for me, if you don’t mind, Benjamin, thank you.

This is kind of my favorite area to talk about. You know, a lot of times MBAs get a bad rap for only talking about the dollars and cents. And I will be honest that we often do that.

But really what I love about our Boise State MBA program specifically and what I encourage you to be looking for in any MBA program, is thinking about not just, you know, the hard numbers.

How is this helping me get a promotion, but thinking about the soft returns of an MBA and what an MBA can lead to for you in terms of, like we said, that confidence and the problem-solving skills and thinking about how that translates into other areas of your life, not even just career development, but just in all aspects.

And again, that really begins by selecting the right program for your needs and goals. So I will use Boise State again as an example here. But one of the things that the Boise State MBA really emphasizes is leadership.

So while we have many different emphasis areas and concentrations like health care leadership, marketing leadership, you will see that leadership. How many times can I say that in 30 seconds; is a real common thread and theme throughout the program, and that’s very intentional. And it really translates into every single class, every single interaction, every single assignment that you have.

Our online MBA program isn’t meant for brand new recent graduates with little experience coming right out of college. Instead, we have minimum experience requirements.

We read every single application to make sure that every person coming into the online MBA program really has the potential for leadership and also made already be in a leadership position, but also is really able to give back to their cohort in their class by offering experiences that others can learn from.

And so in doing that, we have a really robust discussion in every class. We have faculty who tailor their courses to students who are in leadership roles, where the learning is really applicable and practical. And they can actually take students can take what they’re learning and apply it the next day at work.

And so for us, that’s how students become better problem solvers, become better strategic decision makers, become confident leading teams because they’ve really done that and trained for that in their MBA program.

So again, selecting the right program, I can’t express how important that is for really what your needs are.

Additionally, as we’ve kind of talked about earlier, I just want to emphasize that it’s important to consider opportunities that fit your career, goals in your passions and your interests. And so for a lot of students, this actually can even be outside of their careers.

I have students that I talk with about board service. How do you how do you go find maybe a nonprofit board and put some of your MBA learning to use in a different capacity?

And I think that that really leads to even more return on your investment. It may not necessarily lead to a promotion or dollar value increase, but it really can lead to new passions. It can help spark new interest, and it can also be really rewarding.

So, I think that if you can find those opportunities to really put those MBA skills to use, you’ll find that you add a lot of value in your community and personally get some great returns.

Again, networking network, network, network. I can’t emphasize this enough. This is where students are really able to test those skills. They’re able to find new opportunities. And really even in our program and out, I found students that have had great success in the MBA program saying, gosh, you know, I have a great network.

But also there’s this professional organization that I think I really need to be a part of now that I’ve found the value of working with people.

And again, the Boise State MBA program, we focus on leadership, but we focus on people. People is so critical to leadership. And so I think that when our students find that leaders get things done through people and through being an effective manager, communicator and team leader, cheerleader. The opportunities are really endless with various networking opportunities.

The big piece here, my next bullet point, invest your time to grow and develop.

This is where I, as a director, as an advisor, I have seen students come in. And I’ll be very honest with you, they come in and say, you know, I’m kind of just here for the piece of paper. My company, I want to move up in my company. I need an MBA to do it, get me in and get me out.

And in all honesty, that is why we have essays. That is why we read every single application. That’s why Jennifer, Nikki and Benjamin are so good at their jobs.

Because we are searching for the student that wants to actually invest their time and not just get that piece of paper. And again, some of them may slip through. But what I think that you would find with the Boise State MBA is that the vast majority of our students want to put in that time.

They want to learn, they want to network, they want to actually see the personal development and growth that comes with an MBA program.

And so I encourage you to make that commitment right up front. Work with your family, work with your employer to say, hey, you know, this is a significant time commitment. And for me to really see the value and yield the results, I need to be able to put that time in.

With the Boise State MBA. It’s typically about 20 to 25 hours of work per week. It’s what we say is kind of the average load to complete within two years.

And so it is a significant amount of time. But really what we also find is that if you’re in the right program, one that’s practical and relevant, that time can also kind of be dual utilized with your job and your educational work.

Oftentimes our assignments kind of dovetail nicely into what you’re doing at work already. So you may be asked to write a memo or to propose a new initiative at work as part of your before your assignment for a class.

And it may be something you’re already doing during the workday. So finding ways where you can kind of double dip a little bit and work on classwork at work, that really applies. And that’s a way that you can really not only maximize return, but also be really effective with your time management.

And that really correlates with that second to last bullet there. Relate your studies back to your job.

We always caution students from you know being the MBA know-it-all that goes right into the boardroom and has three classes under their belts and says, well I have an MBA and I just finished this finance class and X, Y and Z, I know this.

There’s the right and a wrong way to do it. And the right way is really to be thinking constantly about how your studies relate back to your job.

Are you able to ask better questions? Are you able to really analyze a new data set with new fresh eyes and different perspectives and how do you communicate this to leadership or to your teams?

And that’s something that I think that our faculty do an excellent job of when they design classes. That’s first and foremost at the top of their mind.

How do we help students relate their studies back to their job so that they can be effective and they can actually have those returns immediately?

And really, this is, I think the number one reason why we’re seeing students get promoted through the program. Is because they’re able to relate and superiors the powers that be, see, hey, gosh, you know, John is able to really come in here and I’m already seeing that he is asking better questions, is providing better leadership. His team is happier because of what he’s working and learning.

And again, that final point here, be a leader, have that confidence. You have the knowledge. It’s not like at graduation, all of a sudden, everything just flips a switch and you’re now a C-level executive.

You earn it through kind of that day to day, that constant iteration, that constant question and that confidence that you have with an MBA, that confidence that you have that says, I put in the time, I put in the work, I had great instruction and a quality program. And I, now I’m able to see the results of that.

And I think that that’s where I get the most satisfaction from my work is when I really do see students who in their essays, their application essays say, gosh, I want to be that go-to person, I want to be that leader, I want to manage a team.

And it’s really amazing when, you know, even halfway, three quarters through the program, I touch base with them and I go, Hey, how’s it going to go? Oh, my gosh, you know, I just got four new people on my team and we just completed this big project and I really do attribute it in part to that MBA learning and really just that confidence that says, Hey, this is something I can do. And I love that personal satisfaction and that professional satisfaction as well.

So again, I guess, in summary, as this is my my final slide, what I encourage you to think about when you’re thinking about an MBA and the ROI.

That ROI starts prior even to day one of your instruction, it starts now when you’re selecting your program. It starts now when you’re thinking about your career goals.

It starts now when you’re thinking about how you’re going to invest your time and your efforts.  And putting kind of the MBA at the forefront as to, you know, networking and how am I going to really apply this to work?

I hate when a lot of folks think about, oh, gosh, I just graduated with my MBA, I need the promotion. Where’s the dollars?

That’s one way to think about it. But I really find success for students happens that they think about it early. And so that’s why I’m so happy you’ve been on this call today because you’re at a great place to make an impact there.