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Survey confirms most career expectations match reality among MBA graduates


A combined 66% of MBA graduates claim that they have either attained a better-paying job or managed to climb the career ladder as a result of their studies. These and other trends have been identified by Advent Group in a voluntary annual survey among 2,000 prospective, current and past business education students from 24 countries around the world. The study, called “Trends in International Postgraduate Business Education” aims to discern expectations from reality by asking the same questions to candidates and students on one hand, and graduates on the other.

“We wanted to compare the current success of MBA and Masters graduates to the initial expectations of candidates, whom we consult every day”, Christophe Coutat, CEO and Founder of Advent Group said.

“What we can say is that business education continues to net good results for those who choose to pursue it, but preliminary expectations often differ from reality”.

MBAs able to attain career goals
The MBA segment in the survey is comprised of three groups: candidates who already have professional and managerial experience of up to 4 years; students undertaking full-time, part-time, executive and online MBA degrees, and graduates with up to 10 years of full-time work experience.

According to the study, candidates’ primary motivation for getting an MBA degree is to climb the career ladder (47%), followed by getting a better-paying job (34%), and the ability to switch career lanes (19%).

A combined 66% of MBA graduates claim that they have either attained a better-paying job or managed to climb the career ladder as a result of their studies. This is only slightly lower than the 71% of candidates who want to achieve these outcomes.

However, survey data also hints to a more dynamic career path, whereby achieving a higher salary, climbing the career ladder or changing careers are equally common results for graduates, with each career progression corresponding to one-third of the responses.

MBAs more likely to hold managerial positions

MBA graduates are much more likely to hold managerial positions compared to their Masters counterparts. According to the survey results, 60% of all MBA alumni respondents currently hold mid- or senior level management positions.

Commenting on the data, Advent Group’s Candidate Management Director, Kalin Yanev, PhD elaborated that “for MBA graduates, the goal is to grow into a general manager, since they have already proven their qualities as professionals in their fields before going back to school.”

“That is why this metric is so important – it encapsulates the MBA degree’s principle idea of elevating one’s career to a managerial level”, Yanev added.

MBA expectations for a global career fall short of reality

52% of future and present MBA students expect the MBA degree to set in motion a career of global travel and business, but only 17% of employed MBA graduates enjoy such lifestyles.

This is by far the biggest discrepancy between expectation and reality within the MBA segment.

The largest portion of graduates (44%) goes on to live and work in the country where they studied, but Coutat insists that this is not surprising.

“It takes a simple glance at the realities of top management at big multinational companies to understand why this makes sense.  Only C-level managers actually have the kind of lifestyle that requires them to fly around the world to do business”, Coutat concluded.


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