MBAs pay Featured

10:45am EDT February 28, 2006
Professionals with graduate degrees generally earn higher salaries than those with bachelor’s degrees — and much more than those with only high school diplomas. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau is an accurate portrayal of how higher education can lead to higher salaries.

Now, there is even more specific data that shows salaries and signing bonuses of fresh graduates took a double-digit leap last year. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the organization that oversees the test for prospective business students, recent grads snagged average salaries and signing bonuses worth $106,000, a 13.5 percent jump from 2004. When looking at just the salary, the average is $88,600.

Why the increase? Most likely it’s because the improving economy is leading to an increase in demand for professionals who are well-educated. And today’s MBA graduates enter a wide variety of fields. From higher education to technology, many industries are looking for MBA grads, so there’s never been a better time to return to school to earn your MBA.

How exactly do you choose the right MBA program? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  • Where is the campus located? You’ll want to make sure that the campus is at a convenient location so you’ll be able to make it to classes with little hassle. Some universities combine physical campuses and online programs to offer increased options for adults seeking flexible schedules.

  • When are courses offered? Full-time, daytime MBA programs are great for recent grads in their twenties, but not all of us can afford to quit our full-time jobs to pursue an MBA. Fortunately, the Columbus area has several options for adults who want to attend courses at night or on weekends.

  • Who are the instructors? It’s important for instructors to be well-educated and possess valuable real-world experience. At many universities, instructors must have a master’s degree or higher, and they must also have experience in the field they teach. This ensures that instructors can discuss relevant theory and its practical application.

  • What is the cost, and what are my financial aid options? You’ll want to carefully check tuition costs and account for additional expenses such as books, course materials, child care and transportation. The good news is that there are several financial aid opportunities for working adults, so don’t let the sticker price of tuition deter you from your dreams.

Make sure your prospective college or university pairs you with a qualified enrollment counselor, so you can determine a financial aid package of grants, loans and/or scholarships that works for you.

  • Who are my fellow students? You’ll find that a classroom of working adults is often the best type of learning environment because you can discuss the real world application of theories — and offer anecdotes from the career world. Many universities also require work in learning teams, so you’ll be able to interact further with your classmates.

  • What technology is available? Does the classroom feature wireless Internet access? Does the library feature an extensive online database of materials? Do students use traditional textbooks or online course materials? Are real-world computer simulations part of the curriculum? These are all questions you should consider before enrolling in an MBA program.

Each college and university in Columbus offers a different type of MBA, and no two schools are identical. By asking the right questions, you can determine which program is the right one for you — and be on your way to higher earnings and a more rewarding career.

Eric Ziehlke is campus director for University of Phoenix — Columbus campus. University of Phoenix is the largest private accredited university in North America and is owned by parent company Apollo Group Inc. As of Nov. 30, 2005, 315,400 students attended Apollo Group Inc. institutions. Reach Ziehlke at Eric.Ziehlke@phoenix.edu or (614) 433-0095.