Does a small-school MBA look silly?

CPA Exam Review CPA Exam Forum Big 4 Firms, Accounting Careers, & CMA MBA & MAcc Does a small-school MBA look silly?

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    Hi All,

    I am considering pursuing an MBA to set me apart from other CPAs and to become a more well-rounded professional. My question is whether an MBA from a smallish school looks silly and, if so, is it worth pursuing? Obviously, the alternative is going to a large public university and facing a $100k+ tuition bill.

    All input greatly appreciated and thanks in advance!

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    you will get a lot of different answers to this depending on the person. given you have cpa that will overshadow mba. i recommend going with a small school to boost the resume and differentiate yourself from those with cpa and no masters. spending large sums at a top mba school will not payoff. having both mba and cpa makes you a top candidate for any job


    You get what you pay for.
    If I was going back for an MBA I would want a good ranking school with excellent placement services and potential. Huge networking opportunities as well.
    It's not about what you know, but who you know.
    Also depends on what your career goals are, and where you are right now in your career.
    I have a client that did an ivy league MBA, maybe Yale, and ended up with an offer close to $200k before he was even done. Super expensive program, and he traveled from the other side of the country for it, but it paid off. He was already well established as far as work experience and career, but had lost his job due to downsizing and needed to upgrade some skills. Not accounting field.

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

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    A couple of thoughts here. I have worked with many people that had MBAs. Most of them did the same job I did. Most were not promoted faster and most didn't seem any more knowledgeable about management or finance than I was.

    However, there were two distinct groups of people with MBAs.

    One group got the degree to check the box and fill out their resume. In my opinion this group wasted their time and gained no valuable skill from the degree. Some may have gotten a promotion or a new job, but some/many/most were still in the same position. The degree gave them no more than a paper advantage on the job.

    The second much smaller group went to a Wharton, Kellog or Kelley. This group gained knowledge and skill sets from the experience. They went on to be promoted and were executive level people eventually.

    The CFO at a company I worked for had only a bachelors degree. It was a large fortune 500 company. So, I don't think of an MBA as a requirement. I do, however, believe incredibly strongly in continuing education.

    These are just observations from my experience. Your results may vary.

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    That is spot on and just what I was about to write. A couple friends of mine went to Cornell and got their MBA, they're making almost half a mil in Texas. Then I know of others who got MBA's, as you said, to check the box and the difference is marginal. I'd say a waste b/c they're stuck having to pay back 100k+ for something that didn't really change much.

    I think having an MBA is great if you want to do something beyond accounting and actually make impactful decisions on an organization, but I only recommend getting it from an Ivy League school.


    MBA is nothing more than an expensive networking event. Nothing taught a MBA course is rocket science.

    Personally, nope. M7 or bust for me.

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    I can and I will

    I work at NBC and someone hiring me said ” go big or don't go at all”

    so take that what you will lol

    I can and I will- Don't give up!


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    So I'm just gonna say that I agree with the above answers.

    The way I see it is there are only 3 main reasons why one would get an MBA
    1. Alumni/prestige/name networking to get certain jobs (PE, VC, McKinsey, etc)
    2. A requirement by your existing employer in order to advance (Assistant to the regional manager to assistant regional manager)
    3. Someone who did not take any business classes at all, trying to get a very fundamental understanding of business (basic acct, etc)

    I'll be honest though, most Big 4 firms are starting to move towards hiring people with a masters degree, probably due to the CPA credit requirement and to charge their clients more. Another interesting thing is that MBA enrollment has been on the decline and several articles have suggested that within the next 10-15 years, if the program isn't a top 50 program, then it will need to move online since it wouldn't be cost effective to have a physical one. Big names like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford have been hit hard over the past years on enrollment too. Employers are kinda tired of these “straight outta grad school” MBAs with no real skills. Another thing to consider is getting a specialty masters (MAcc, MFin, Master in data analytics). I forgot where, but an article suggested that employers would rather hire someone who appears to have immersed themselve in classes that will hopefully be beneficial. I only see the first reason above as the only reason. I went to a top 15 school, and by God, the recruiting was worlds better than my no name school for undergrad. There are more factors to consider and everyone is different. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.



    If you get an MBA from University of Pheonix then I think you will look very silly. However, if you were to get an MBA from someone like Murray State I'd say that's totally fine. Regardless, spending tens of thousands on an MBA is dumb. Keep it affordable but avoid the bottom tier.

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    would you please share where are you working (in general, like F500? MBB? BB?) now and how MBA improved your career (title/salary bump, switch to sexy industry like consulting/pe/ib)? I am seriously considering going to MBA.




    I was an idiot and accepted my return offer at Big 4 for financial advisory after my internship. However, I know that my school has a very extensive and effective alumni network in Big cities like Seattle and NYC. I went straight from undergrad to get a specialty masters instead of an MBA, so I can't really say what pay increase would have been but I know that since I have my masters now, my pay is about 20% more than that of someone who doesn't. But I've got to say that my school has a lot of pull if I ever want to exit Big 4. My suggestion is to get in touch with recruiters at whatever schools you are seriously considering. They are the gatekeepers to these schools and have significant influence and can even pay for a plane ticket or lodging if you are a good candidate. Putting yourself out there and getting your name floating around in the admissions department is good. If I were to do it again, I would not have accepted my return offer and see what other possibilities were availalbe. I sat next to kids who were accepted to work at Goldman and McKinsey so I know that its definetly possible.

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