Planning for Your MBA

The MBA is one of the world's most popular and beneficial educational experiences. The MBA is commonly referred to as a "business" degree, but some of today's best MBA programs prepare students for careers in business, government and not-for-profit organizations.

Understanding the components of an MBA education and selecting the right MBA program for your goals are two of the most important aspects of achieving a high personal and professional return on investment from your MBA.

An MBA education offers the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience needed to build a new set of possibilities for your future -- it's a way of getting from where you are to where you want to be. Benefits of an MBA include:

  • Personal and professional Growth
    • General and in-depth knowledge of management
    • Decision making skills
    • Interpersonal and communication skills
    • Team and leadership skills
    • Tools of strategic career management
  • Career opportunities and satisfaction
    • Launch a career or make dramatic career transitions
    • Enjoy your work
    • Increased career opportunities
    • Ability to make a difference
    • Increased performance
  • Financial
    • Increased salary
    • Increased earning power over your lifetime

The value of a quality MBA is well-documented through GMAC research. A high percent of MBA alumni indicate their MBA has benefited them in the following ways:  (GMAC Global Alumni Survey 2017): 

  • Increased my earning power (82%)
  • Prepared me for my chosen career (85%)
  • Prepared me for leadership position (86%)
  • Was personally rewarding (93%)
  • Was profesionally rewarding (91%)

Go Early! The best time to pursue an MBA is as soon as you are ready.

In fact, completing your MBA early in your career provides the professional tools you need to succeed, starts your career at a higher rate of salary, and increases the number of years over which you can earn higher salaries and achieve greater greater career satisfaction.

Two major changes in MBA education make this possible: "early career MBA programs" and "experiential learning." The Willamette University MBA is a national leader in both of these areas. In fact, the Willamette MBA is specifically designed to provide both the knowledge and the real-world resume of professional work experience needed for a successful early career transition to your first management position, career change or career advancement.

If you are having difficulty deciding if you are "ready" or "not ready," it may be helpful to ask yourself this set of questions:"Where will I grow the most in the next 21 months? Will I grow more toward my goals by doing what I am currently doing for the next 21 months -- or will I grow more toward my goals by completing my MBA in the next 21 months?

Remember, financially and professionally, the return on investment of an MBA is highest early in your career.

Most MBA programs enroll students from all areas of undergraduate study, including liberal arts and sciences, social sciences, engineering, education, business, etc. Your undergraduate degree develops your overall communication, analytical and problem solving skills. A good MBA program will enhance those skills and develop your knowledge of management and real-world experience.

Full-time and part-time programs are designed to meet different goals. Therefore, the decision to attend a full-time program or a part-time program should be based on your career goals.

If you are interested in career entry or career change, your goals will be best supported by the structure and services of a full-time program. Full-time programs provide the opportunity to build a new resume of experiences through internships, projects, etc., and are more likely to provide the array of career services that will help you in your job search.

Part-time MBA programs are designed for people who are fully employed while completing their MBA. Evening/weekend and part-time MBA students are usually seeking managerial growth or career advancement with their current employer. Such programs rarely offer internship experiences, intensive class consulting projects or career services because their students are already employed.

Willamette offers a full-time MBA program specifically designed for students who are early in their career seeking career entry or change. 

Willamette also offers an evening MBA for Professionals program for practicing managers who are seeking to complete their MBA while fully employed.

Quality MBA programs provide both a broad understanding of management and the specialized expertise you need for your first professional position and upper level positions you will achieve in your career. Specialized knowledge gives you expertise in one or more functional areas of interest. A broad understanding of management and organizations provides the perspective for effective management decision-making employers value. The combination of breadth and expertise is a key advantage of MBA programs and results in most MBA programs being two years in length.

Most specialized Master’s degree programs focus on a particular area of interest or expertise and do not include the broad organizational view perspective of management decision-making that provides success later in your career. The typical Master degree is one year in length, but it's focus is more narrow. 

The opportunity to pursue an early career MBA program allows you to achieve the MBA degree early in your career, without having to a settle for a substitute degree that is not an MBA, or returning for an MBA program later in life. Consider moving straight to the Willamette MBA where you will develop the breadth and depth of knowledge and real word work experience needed for your career ... and save money and time by completing one degree instead of two.

There are more than 800 MBA programs in the US and many others internationally. The program you select is important to your future because your professional opportunities will be determined not by the MBA credential, but by your ability to apply the knowledge and tools you develop and the experience you build during your graduate program. Consider the following:

  • If you are interested in business, is the school accredited by AACSB International?
  • If you are interested in public services, is the school accredited by NASPAA - The Global Standard in Public Service Education?
  • Is it designed to match your career goals?
  • What areas of interest or expertise are offered?
  • What teaching methods are emphasized?
  • Will the experience enhance your leadership skills?
  • Will the experience enhance your team skills?
  • Will the experience enhance your communication skills?
  • Will the experience develop your network?
  • How does the program build your work experience?
  • What career services are offered
  • What co-curricular activities are offered?

Earning your MBA is a major step in your life — and your degree should represent the hard work you put into it.

Look for accreditation by AACSB International if you are interested in business. AACSB is the internationally recognized hallmark of excellence for business schools and represents the highest standards of achievement for business schools worldwide. Learn more about the value of AACSB accreditation.

Look for accreditation by NASPAA if you are interested in public service. NASPAA is the global standard of public service education for master degrees in public administration, public policy and public affairs. Learn more about the value of NASPAA accreditation.

Willamette's Early Career and Career Change MBA program is accredited by AACSB International and NASPAA, and is one of only two programs in the U.S. to achieve this dual accreditation. The Willamette MBA for Professionals program is accredited by the AASCB International.  

An MBA is a personal and financial investment in your future. Like most investments, an MBA requires energy and dollars in exchange for long-term benefits.

Costs for an MBA include tuition, books and fees. Costs for full-time programs also include the opportunity cost of lost income for the period of schooling. The MBA is not a guarantee and opportunities will vary with the economy… but two recent surveys by the Graduate Management Admission Council show alumni and employers continue to positively rate the value of the MBA.

According to GMAC's MBA Alumni Perspectives Survey recent MBA graduates rate the value of their MBA degree positively when comparing the monetary cost of obtaining the degree with the career opportunities resulting from the degree.

Many sources of financial aid exist to help you invest in your educational and career goals. Educational loans are the most common source of financial assistance for MBA students through-out the world.

Most U.S. citizens and permanent residents can fund fund their total MBA educational, living and personal expenses through government loans by combining the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan programs with the Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan. The bottom line - full funding is available if you want to pursue your MBA and invest in your professional future.

International students may be eligible for private credit-based educational loans.

Scholarships, graduate assistantships and campus work programs may also be offered through your MBA program. Prospective MBA students are also encouraged to utilize free Internet databases of private scholarships available at

Willamette MBA staff members are available to answer your questions and provide more information about admission and financial aid.

Willamette MBA
Full-time MBA for early career and career changes students
Aimee Akimoff – Director of Recruitment
Phone: 503.370.6167

MBA for Professionals
Evening program for experienced employed managers
David Carroll – Director of Recruitment
Phone: 503-808-9901

Admission staff can also connect you to the Willamette University Financial Aid office for your specific questions.

Although the GMAT is the most common test used for entry into MBA programs, most MBA programs (including the Willamette MBA) now allow students to choose between the GMAT and the GRE. 

The GMAT and the GRE are similar in that both tests are computerized and both measure general verbal, mathematical and analytical skills.  Neither test is designed to measure knowledge in business, economics, job skills, etc.

Applicants should take the GMAT or GRE test process seriously and prepare for the testing experience.

Complete information about the GMAT and GRE, review tips and online registration is available online.

General information for international students about graduate study in the U.S. is available at Education USA.

A list of overseas advising centers is available at