What are the biggest challenges of an MBA? Man looking at challenging stairs

You’re always up for a challenge, right? You look forward to the challenges of owning a business, running a business, or just doing whatever you can to make someone else’s business succeed. Pursuing an MBA is a challenge all its own.



What are your concerns about getting an MBA?

Anyone thinking of pursuing an MBA has genuine worries. From wondering, “How long does it take to get an MBA?” to “Does an MBA program have exams?” to “Will I be able to retain and understand the exhaustive list of MBA subjects?” to work/life/school balance.

The concerns and challenges are real. For those who have been in the workplace since receiving their undergraduate degrees, transitioning back to school offers a big change.

According to Fortune, one key to managing these challenges is finding the right balance between personal, professional, and academic areas of your life, and ensuring you're going back to school for the right reasons. If you plan to add school on top of an already busy schedule, you need to seriously consider how an MBA fits in. Part-time, online, and executive MBA programs are often available to those students wishing to continue working full-time while pursuing their degrees.1

Melissa Pepper

“It’s hard to have kids and work and go to school. My advice to those considering the Iowa MBA is that you really need to be okay with some parts of your life in chaos." 

An MBA program comes with many challenges and also many opportunities. So is it possible to balance both?

Busy nights and weekends, sacrificing time with family, academic demands, and financial hardships are legitimate challenges. But the benefits of an MBA are just as real. For many, the answer to “Why should I get an MBA?” can be found in salary increases, signing bonuses, an expanded network, and the increased possibility of promotion.

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Is it stressful to get an MBA?

Mental health is in the headlines and MBA students are not immune. Surviving the stresses of the classroom, work, and life is a challenge for every student. Thankfully, business schools are taking notice.

According to a survey2 by the American College Health Association, 77% of graduate and professional students experienced above-average stress in the last year. 

Top MBA programs have reacted by offering initiatives focused on strategies and programming to improve students' emotional and mental wellness. Students are also encouraged to engage in mindfulness, to talk to mental health professionals, and to simply speak with their peers. Awareness, reflection, education, and support of mental and emotional needs all help build the emotional resilience that helps drive student success.

Which MBA class is hardest?

Mental health aside, incoming students often wonder about the hardest MBA courses. Unfortunately, there is no common consensus, and the answer often comes down your educational background.

For some, the quantitative courses in an MBA program are the most difficult. These “hard skills” classes include statistics, finance, economics, and accounting. Students with strong mathematical, technical, or analytic backgrounds may find these less difficult than their peers.

For others, the "soft skills" are harder because they can't be mastered simply by opening a book. These include things like integrity, creativity, effective communication, open-mindedness, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and empathy.

In the end, is getting an MBA worth it?

According to a report in 2022 from the National Association of Colleges and Employers3, people fresh out of an MBA program made a median salary of approximately $84,700. Students who had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration had a salary of approximately $56,400, a 50% pay difference.

Ultimately, deciding the worth of an MBA is only for you to answer. Based on your circumstances, the biggest challenge may be the MBA workload. Or it may be your ability to balance your studies with your family or your job.

$ 56,000

Salary of a BBA graduate

$ 84,700

Median salary of an MBA graduate

Tony Sithonnorath

“My education was ultimately an investment in myself—the one investment I’m always confident in.”

Getting your MBA is exciting and can pay huge dividends, but will it be a challenge that requires too much sacrifice? Talking to your employer and your family about ways they can support your journey is an important first step. You can share  the Iowa MBA Employer Guide to help start the conversation with your supervisor.

Interested in learning more about an Iowa MBA?

Start right here

Related articles

  1. Fortune. “Is getting an MBA hard? What to consider before you apply.” March 2022.
  2. American College Health Association. “Graduate/Professional Student Reference Group.” Fall 2022.
  3. National Association of Colleges and Employers. “First Destinations For The College Class Of 2021 Findings And Analysis.” October 2022.