Putting your MBA plans on hold? Here’s what you should know

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Lack of emphasis on networking skills found to be reason why new graduates struggle to meet workplace demands.

By U2B Staff 

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The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly dampened both the enthusiasm and outlook of this year’s MBA or master’s degree in business prospective candidates.

Despite the uncertain times, students are not entirely giving up their plans to pursue postgraduate business studies at the moment. According to findings by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) through a survey conducted on more than 1,000 MBAs or master’s degrees in business prospects, prospective students are not giving up on their aspirations to pursue their studies.

Prospective students express concern over the global economic situation in 2020

The percentage of candidates reporting to be very concerned or extremely concerned about the impact COVID-19 has on their pursuit of MBAs or master’s degrees in business rose from 13% on March 15 to 35% by March 31. The number increased by 7 percentage points to 41 % by April 15 which shows a deepening concern.

The increasing concern for MBA or business master’s prospects is mainly attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, which will have a direct impact on hiring trends in the coming year.

It is therefore evident that the risk of the global economic slowdown and its implications on future employment prospects could be a deterrent to future students to continue pursuing their study plans.

The impacts are already being reflected by the impact of COVID-19 on prospective candidates, prompting them to consider alternatives such as delaying their plans of pursuing MBAs or master’s degrees in business.

The survey by GMAT also found that candidates prospective MBA candidates were reporting a more consistent concern about the job market as compared to those preferring to pursue master’s degrees in business: It was found that 55% of prospective MBA candidates were slightly more likely to delay pursuing the postgraduate qualification. In slight contrast, 48% of prospective master’s degrees in business candidates were considering delaying their study plans.


These concerns are not unfounded – a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates bleak economic prospects for 2020 with a projected growth of -3%, strongly rivaling the 2008 global financial crisis.

The report, however, comes with a silver lining, projecting a 5.8% growth in 2021 as economic activity normalises bolstered by strong policy support.

While the survey findings indicate that there is a rising concern about the job market among prospective business school students, their aspirations to pursue MBAs or master’s degrees in business have not changed all that much: The overall percentage of candidates reporting no longer pursuing MBAs or master’s degree in business due to the impact of COVID-19 was less than 10%.

One very positive outcome from this survey also reveals that there is a 3% decrease in the proportion of prospective MBA candidates reporting not pursuing the qualification, that is from 11% to 8%.

This suggests that some candidates are considering an MBA or master’s degree in business as a promising pathway in times of harsh economic climate.

Is this the right time to pursue an MBA or a business master’s qualification?

An MBA or a or master’s degrees in business can add specific business skills to your toolkit that can all work in your favour that can lead to new career prospects and business opportunities. Additionally, MBA programmes have been helpful in opening new and bigger career opportunities and promotions that lead to improved remuneration and compensation.

While MBAs or master’s degrees in business programmes come with a financial and time cost factor, graduates who complete accredited programmes are also more likely to enjoy good prospects for employment in any industry.

In fact, 84% of those who graduated from the 131 MBA programmes ranked by U.S. News found employment within three months, according to a survey of recent graduates.

The question of whether prospective candidates should pursue an MBA or business master’s degrees is a question that they need to answer for themselves as individuals in their specific circumstances, and also their projected career pathways.

MBAs and master’s degrees in business programmes can certainly offer undeniable value, predominantly through the connections, network, and relationships to access job opportunities and learning, all of which are essential pathways to rebuild career prospects once the economy rebounds.


Another consideration that should be the focus of prospective students is the calibre of the programmes on offer and the individual value they offer. Some programmes offer more value and are ultra-affordable which would suit professionals who are concerned about accruing hefty student loans, as opposed to a programme that is both expensive and lacks a solid reputation.

As the economy recovers and organisations start recruiting talent once again, MBA and business master’s degree hopefuls can expect to re-enter into the workforce quite easily upon completion of the programme with the help of these added credentials.

One point that requires careful consideration is that some MBA and business master’s degree candidates may wonder if this qualification would put them at a disadvantage when talent in the job market would be available at a much lower price tag. Therefore, getting a good return on investment for postgraduate education in business is more crucial now than ever, and this can be achieved by taking advantage of rebates, waived examination fees, and also by enrolling in shorter programmes that cost less.

While it would therefore not be prudent to view MBAs or business master’s degrees as a panacea, especially in terms of getting hired, preparing for the future and equipping yourself with new, in-demand skills could be the best way to prepare for the future.