Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Comparing the costs of an MBA (a physician's perspective)

If you're a physician and you've been thinking about business school, you've probably been doing some cost comparison. How much will it actually cost to get an MBA?

Let's make a few assumptions here:
  • You're probably not going to a full-time program. The lost income alone would be tremendous.
  • You're thinking about part-time programs, online/distance learning programs, and executive MBA programs. 
  • You want to get an MBA from an AACSB-accredited business school.
Now, these assumptions may not apply to everyone, but for the sake of this blog post, let's take a look at some of the costs associated with an MBA based on these assumptions.

Executive MBA
  • In general, an executive MBA is the most expensive way to get an MBA. An executive MBA could cost well over $100,000. Here's an example:
  • The Wharton executive MBA (San Francisco) is $165,900 while the Wharton executive MBA (Philadelphia) is $156,600.
Online MBA
  • An online MBA from an AACSB-accredited business school can be very affordable.
  • If you pursue an MBA and you qualify for in-state tuition, then you can get an MBA for under $10,000.
  • Don't qualify for in-state tuition? Then you can still find some AACSB-accredited business schools that offer online MBAs for less than $15,000, but the average is closer to $20-25,000 for an online MBA.
Part-time MBA
  • Part-time MBA programs may be just as affordable as online MBA programs. 
  • You're primarily going to be limited by your geography, but that could work in your favor if you qualify for in-state tuition.
So, what makes the most sense? If you can afford to pay for an executive MBA, then you'll probably enjoy that learning experience compared to an online learning experience. Also, you'll gain valuable leadership skills and have the opportunity to build a strong network if you choose a solid executive MBA program. I realize that it may be difficult to justify the costs associated with an EMBA. I don't know many physicians practicing medicine who have employers who are willing to pay for an MBA. If you're a physician working in a non-clinical corporate setting, then you can probably get some tuition reimbursement from your company.

If you're "tight" on finances and you want to get an MBA to help you transition into a non-clinical career, then you may want to pursue a cost-effective alternative. Some may argue that you should get additional school loans to get the best possible education, but there are pros/cons to this type of approach. If you have a family and you can't afford to strain the family finances, then it can be difficult to justify spending over $100,000 when you could be spending $10,000 to get an MBA. I'm not trying to give advice - I'm simply stating the obvious: we're all in different financial situations and so decisions regarding MBA programs must be personalized for each individual.

I've been wrestling with this whole MBA question for several years. I still don't have an answer for myself, but maybe I'll eventually make a decision.


  1. If you're already a doctor, get an executive MBA, and make it worth your while. Medfuse

  2. Executive MBAs are expensive but like all schooling it is an investment.