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Help deciding...low tier MBA now or top 10 later?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Cliff notes at bottom. I am currently a pharmacy student and due to some misgivings on my part, I will be extending my stay an extra year. I have always planned on getting an MBA after school and a few years of work experience, but now that I have an extra year to spread out my courses, I have enough free time to think seriously about my school's PharmD / MBA dual degree. I talked with the director yesterday and he said that I should be able to complete both easily in my remaining time, and that I am not too late to start if I complete a three week intensive prerequisite course this July. I would automatically be admitted, and my PCAT scores would replace the GMAT. Tuition would be an extra $17k (ballpark). Problem is, I understand that an MBA is worthless without work experience or not from a top 20 school. My university is known for its pharmacy program but our MBA is low tier. Alternatively, I can graduate and go for a better ranked MBA in the future. I am from NC so I was thinking about Duke Fuqua's Health Sector specialization MBA or UNC's Kenan Flager (or Wharton, Harvard, etc. if I can even get in). The cons to this is that I'd have to balance work, school, family and pay a ton more money later, while now I can knock out the MBA as a full time student and for cheaper. My career goals are to go into the military then VA. I want to eventually become an administrator but have no wish to become a CEO of a major hospital or pharmaceutical company. I am also dabbling in the idea of opening an independent pharmacy sometime in my career. But definitely "pharmacist first, businessman second" kind of mentality. My biggest concern here is name recognition. My school's MBA cannot compete with Stanford or Kellogg. But if my wish is to compliment my PharmD and not rise the ranks of a fortune 500 company, then does the name matter as much as a clinician? Especially if I can knock it out now and for cheaper? Cliffs: -Pharmacy student looking into my school's dual MBA, low ranked. -Dual MBA at my school is roughly $17k and can be finished by the time I graduate. -Career aspiration is to be a mid level administrator/manager and possibly entrepreneur. -Or should I wait and try for a higher ranked MBA later after graduation and work experience? Which should I choose? Thanks for any input.
post #2 of 30
I normally argue relatively hard about the cost/benefit of a lower tier MBA - it's almost always not worth it. In your case, I might make an exception. For $17K and no loss of work time, with your career aspirations (military or VA), I think I'd do the MBA now. Unless by "low tier" you mean something really at the bottom of the barrell (like online University of Phoenix). Then I'd wait.
post #3 of 30
Top 10 later.
post #4 of 30
Top 10 later.
post #5 of 30
I wouldn't go unless it was top tier.
post #6 of 30
what's VA? Veteran's Affairs? What kind of roles are you aiming for in either the military or VA?
post #7 of 30
"Top 10" is maybe a bit too stringent. It's basically Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Tuck, MIT, Columbia, Chicago, Haas, Kellogg, and one of Ross/Duke/NYU/Darden. Any of those schools are great and probably beyond what you need for your stated career goals.

BUT (and it's a big one) anything beyond a top 20 MBA just isn't worth it unless you're getting big time scholarship money, in my humble opinion.
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your thoughts. For those saying to wait for the top tier, may I ask why? I completely understand the whole "Top 10 or bust" mentality and the worth of an MBA these days, but does the same rule apply to someone like myself who has no ambition of working on wall street or becoming CEO of Johns Hopkins? Also keep in mind that if I wait for the MBA later, I'll be in my early 30s and may have a family by then and would hate to move to another state for a top 10, even assuming I can get accepted in the first place. Or give up future work earning power as tj100 said.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt View Post
what's VA? Veteran's Affairs? What kind of roles are you aiming for in either the military or VA?
Yes, the Veteran's Affairs hospital system. As of now my plan is to serve in the military for three years as a staff pharmacist, and then apply to a staff pharmacist position in the VA and work my way up to director of pharmacy or higher, although I have no interest in becoming CEO, CFO, etc. Additionally I am thinking of an alternate path of opening my own pharmacy (post-military but foregoing the VA) catering to geriatrics / nursing homes. I forgot to mention, each military branch offers health scholarships or loan repayment programs, and so I'd most likely be able to have much of my pharmacy school tuition paid for, which can be argued for paying the $17k or so for the dual MBA for free.
post #9 of 30
I'm going to offer a dissenting opinion. If you are TRULY AND SURELY set on military/VA for life, I'd probably get it now. In the government world, MBA can be more of a check in the box requirement. For job advancement in the roles that I have in mind for you, they won't care where you got it from, just that you have it. Outside of the public/defense sector, I would be strongly opposed to your proposition. With that all said, if you think there is a chance that aren't set on that path, I'd hold off. There are always part time programs that you can do if you feel like you need an MBA (without giving up earning power and moving with a family). Of course, that is assuming you're generally happy with your career and need an MBA to advance (as opposed to use it as a career switcher).
post #10 of 30
Dude, get the MBA now. The healthcare field is an entirely different beast that is not AT ALL worried about you graduating from a top ten mba... You're lucky enough to be entering into the field now, where you can just get your MBA and prove your worth as an individual.

I would know because I'm currently an MBA with a healthcare specialization, and I can tell you that your aspirations match perfectly with doing the PharmD/MBA route. There is such a dearth of dual Pharm/MBA individuals that this is a no-brainer. You'll be desired simply because people like you are so scarce.

Top tier MBA for what? NOTHING. These mindless fools seem to think that a random high tier MBA will mean anything in the healthcare field. You'll get some 'oohs' and 'aahs', but you won't get anything special that you couldn't get with a regular old MBA.

In the healthcare field, an MBA is a signal that you care about healthcare and have some management knowledge/potential. Nothing more, nothing less.
post #11 of 30
yeah, I tend to agree with this actually. Yes, I understand that a top 10/20 MBA is gold if you are looking at consulting or IB or PE or whatever, and I typically don't think people should go direct to MBA from undergrad, but in this case, given that you are basically graduating with all the tools you need for a growing industry and a niche that appeals to you, which has the additional bonus of being one of the few fields with a talent shortage (which when you think about it, is the reason that the top XX MBAs are so sought after by the consulting firms - because there is a talent surplus, so they get picky with it) it makes sense to do it now. Given also that there is minimal additional cost in terms of time and money, I would definitely be in the "do it now" camp.
post #12 of 30
Again, I'm almost always on the Top 5 or bust bandwagon, but in this particular case, I think you maximize returns by doing the extra coursework and getting it done now. In your chosen career path, the marginal benefit of a 'Top' MBA vs. any old MBA is much lower than it is in some fields (i.e. finance, consulting, etc.), while the marginal cost is significantly (something along the lines of 10x) higher. And this assumes that you are in a position to be accepted to a 'Top' MBA program. The only argument for waiting, in my opinion, is that you are unsure of your career path and want flexibility. But if you're set on this career, I don't see the argument that pursuing a Top 10 MBA is worth either the risks or the costs.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tj100 View Post
Again, I'm almost always on the Top 5 or bust bandwagon, but in this particular case, I think you maximize returns by doing the extra coursework and getting it done now.

In your chosen career path, the marginal benefit of a 'Top' MBA vs. any old MBA is much lower than it is in some fields (i.e. finance, consulting, etc.), while the marginal cost is significantly (something along the lines of 10x) higher. And this assumes that you are in a position to be accepted to a 'Top' MBA program.

The only argument for waiting, in my opinion, is that you are unsure of your career path and want flexibility. But if you're set on this career, I don't see the argument that pursuing a Top 10 MBA is worth either the risks or the costs.

I think you've reached the point where people read the post.

People who simply read the title would (and should) answer top 10. But in your situation, you're talking about perhaps 100k difference in investment for marginal returns in your field, IN ADDITION to the extra time spent, probably 2 additional years in school (even if it's part time, it's definitely a cost). I think it's best that you get your MBA now, and i agree with the posters above.

But anyone else... top 10.
post #14 of 30
Top Ten later.
post #15 of 30
would really need to know what school you are referring to
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