Why do employers want an MBA? MBA illustration

You know why you want an MBA: more knowledge, the chance for advancement, higher pay, an expanded network. All great reasons. But why are employers looking for professionals with an MBA? Better yet, are they? Do they care whether or not you have this much-discussed business degree?


Do employers value an MBA?

The quick answer is yes.

An MBA on your resume helps you stand out and shows employers that, in addition to your other attributes, you have knowledge, leadership skills, and an interest in making an impact. Add a specialty into the mix, like finance, business analytics, or entrepreneurship, and you are telling your potential future employer, “I’m ready to go today.”

But why do employers want an MBA? According to Forbes, “For employers, hiring MBAs means bringing in well-rounded people who are generally ambitious, analytical, data-driven, and people-focused. The general management background gives MBAs a strong foundation for building and leading within organizations.”1

The benefits of MBA degree to a company mean you can hit the ground running. Instead of requiring years of experience to get up to speed, MBA graduates can get started now.

Do employers look at MBA grades?

There are a number of qualities employers look at when reviewing your qualifications. They will check your school to make sure you are graduating from an institution accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

They will review your area of expertise (like finance or entrepreneurship). They will review your resumé to see what types of experience or internships you may have had. And yes, they will review your GPA.

While not necessarily a deal-breaker, for some large companies with more formal hiring processes, grades do matter. Some companies have a minimum GPA requirement for applicants to pass the first round in hiring, including Royal Dutch Shell (3.5), USAA (3.2), and GE (3.0).2 However, for most companies, an MBA credential from an accredited school is enough to satisfy their hiring requirements.

If grades aren't the be-all and end-all, do companies care where you get your MBA? According to David Fritzinger, Chief Information Officer at Nystrom, absolutely:

“One hundred percent. When I’m looking at an MBA degree, it needs to be from a school that’s accredited and recognized.”

Sarah Woods, Chief Operating Officer at DockYard, Inc., agrees:

“This is something that's taken into consideration. The rigor of the program is paramount to the value placed on the degree earned there.”

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What skills does an MBA give you?

Companies are looking to hire people with MBAs. They are looking for employees who can make an immediate impact, who already have the skills to think strategically and lead a team, a division, or a whole corporation.

In addition to the benefits of an MBA to a company, what skills does an MBA actually offer? You will have in-demand skills that increase your job outlook—skills an MBA teaches you like motivation, leadership, strategic thinking, and decision-making.

During your time at school, you will also have the opportunity to expand your network and build relationships, which can pay dividends for a lifetime. With your degree in hand, you can look forward to increased compensation over that of an undergrad degree.

How much should an MBA increase my salary?

Companies are actively searching for MBA degree-holders. If you have an MBA, what can you expect in return? First, an increased income. An MBA degree typically brings with it an MBA-level salary.

According to a 2023 survey of corporate recruiters, the Graduate Management Admissions Council projected that MBA graduates working at US companies would earn a median annual salary of $125,000 in 2023. Non-MBA degree holders were projected to earn much less: $75,000 for bachelor’s degree holders.3

Based on these numbers, employers are willing to pay extra for an MBA. If you are an existing employee, they also may be willing to send you to school, paying for your education to earn your degree.

If you are still asking “Why should I get an MBA?” or “Why would a company pay for an MBA?”, remember: companies want employees who can think strategically, be leaders, and play an active role in business success.

Why do employers want an MBA? Because an MBA offers all that and more. It might be time to speak to your employer and share the Iowa MBA Employer Guide with your supervisor to start a conversation about your continuing education.

Interested in learning more about Iowa’s top-ranked, part-time MBA?

Start right here

Related articles

  1. Nell Derick Debevoise. “Have Employers Lost Faith In Business School?ForbesSeptember 2021.
  2. M. Preston Leavitt. “What your MBA GPA really says about you.Linkedin, October 2015.
  3. Corporate Recruiters Survey 2023 Summary Report.Graduate Management Admission Council, June 2023.