Considering a Second MBA? Here’s All You Need to Know

POSTED ON 07/05/2024 BY The Red Pen

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A second MBA typically allows students to build upon their previous business education and gain a more comprehensive understanding of advanced business concepts, leadership skills, and strategic decision-making. Combining their prior educational background with a second MBA allows students to develop unique skills that set them apart and equip them for more senior or specialized roles in the business world. However, as reputed MBA admissions consultants, we recommend you reflect on six key questions before deciding to pursue a study full-time second MBA. 

Why choose a second MBA? 

A business school is a crucial step towards a successful career. If you haven’t attended the right school or have selected a program not aligned with your goals, applying concepts to real-life situations becomes a challenge. The job market is constantly evolving, and layoffs are becoming more common. With technology behemoths like Amazon, Meta, and Google laying off upwards of 100,000 employees in 2022, even highly specialized roles may come under fire in an increasingly competitive marketplace. 

While investing in a second MBA may be a good idea to future-proof your career, selecting the right program and business school is essential. Most young professionals want high-ranking business schools on their resumes, but as leading MBA admissions consultants, we recommend establishing specific goals and choosing a program and business school that aligns with them. For example, a global business MBA at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business may be a good choice if you specialize in entrepreneurship for your first MBA and currently have a start-up company you wish to scale. 

What are the benefits of a second MBA?

A second MBA offers several advantages. It enables you to delve deeper into a specific field of study, acquiring specialized knowledge and expertise. It demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and professional development, which can enhance your career prospects and open doors to higher-level positions. Furthermore, a second MBA can help expand professional networks and provide opportunities to connect with industry leaders and peers from diverse backgrounds. 

Here are a few key benefits of a second MBA that you need to consider:

1) Mid-career change: 

If you are stuck in your current job or looking for a new challenge, a second MBA can give you the skills and knowledge necessary to transition into a new field. For example, suppose you are currently working in finance and are interested in moving into technology. In that case, a second MBA can provide you with the technical skills and business acumen necessary to be successful in this field. 

2) Build a foundation in new business domains: 

A second MBA can help you build a foundation in new business domains. If you want to learn more about a particular industry or function, a second MBA can provide the in-depth knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. For example, today’s MBA curriculum has several futuristic subjects, such as digital and social media marketing, big data analytics, and sustainability, which you may want to explore. 

3) Develop a broader and more robust network:

When you attend a leading business school, you will have the opportunity to meet and network with students worldwide. These connections can be invaluable in your career, as they can help you find new jobs, get promoted, and start your own business.

4) Expand your career globally: 

If you already have a track record of success in a regional role, a second MBA can burnish your credentials and support your ambitions to step into a global role. A second MBA from a top business school can give you the international perspective and experience many employers seek in global leaders.

What key factors must you consider before pursuing a second MBA? 

Although you may feel that a second MBA will help reset and recharge your career, you need to be aware of these finer details:

1) Costs

An MBA is a massive investment of time, effort, and money. A second MBA is even more so, as you will likely be further along in your career than the typical applicant with one to six years of work experience. Furthermore, the financial implications must be carefully considered and balanced if you have a family. Undertaking a second MBA necessitates critically evaluating the costs against the benefits and assessing whether the potential investment returns justify the substantial expenditure.

2) Class demographics

Peer learning is pivotal in the MBA journey, offering a valuable avenue for knowledge exchange and growth. However, when you possess a higher level of experience than your classmates, their contributions during class discussions and group activities can be something you already know. Conversely, your peers may need help to fully grasp and appreciate the depth of insight you bring, owing to their relatively limited professional exposure and perspectives. This dynamic highlights the potential challenge of aligning the diverse expertise within the cohort, emphasizing the need for effective communication and understanding to optimize the peer learning experience.

3) Campus recruitment:

When recruiters visit college campuses, they usually intend to recruit individuals for entry-level and junior management positions. But suppose you were already at the mid-management before pursuing a second MBA. In that case, finding job openings on campus that align with your career aspirations becomes difficult. The chances of encountering recruiters who offer positions for candidates with your experience and expertise are rare. 

Do business schools consider applicants with an MBA?

Schools have varying attitudes toward candidates pursuing a second MBA degree. 

Some leading schools, such as Harvard Business School and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, welcome candidates seeking a second MBA. Wharton’s Admission Committee, for instance, does not exclude candidates with an MBA or any other graduate degree but expects them to provide a thorough explanation for pursuing a second MBA in their application. 

Other schools evaluate such aspirants on a case-by-case basis. Tuck’s admissions committee says, “We do not typically admit applicants who have already earned an MBA. If you hold a similar graduate degree that is not an MBA, use the optional essay to explain why you need an MBA in addition to your prior degree. We consider the Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) from Indian universities to be the equivalent of an MBA and typically do not admit applicants who have earned this degree.” 

Second MBA applicants must research and understand the policies of their target school to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Reviewing the applicant FAQ section or contacting the admissions office directly can provide you with an authoritative and personalized answer.

How to answer the “Why a second MBA” question?

Second, MBA applicants need to prepare for this question. Superficial answers and praising the school’s curriculum, faculty, and alumni network won’t cut it. It’s essential to delve deeper, reflect profoundly, and articulate what the second MBA will provide that your first one didn’t.

While discussing your need for a second MBA, it’s crucial to strike a balance and avoid sounding regretful about your first MBA. You must showcase realistic reasons and aspirations for your post-second MBA goals. Provide specific and clear examples of how you plan to leverage the school’s resources to fill gaps in your profile, even though you already possess an MBA.

Remember that your career goals, backup plans, reasons for pursuing an MBA, and school choice will face much greater scrutiny than the average applicant. Be prepared to address these aspects with meticulous detail and conviction.

What are the alternatives to a full-time second MBA?

Considering the investment, time, and energy required by a full-time second MBA, it’s essential to research options best suited to help you accomplish your goals. 

1) Executive MBA (EMBA)

Depending on what stage you are in your career, an Executive MBA (EMBA) can offer similar benefits to a second MBA but at a lower cost and without disrupting your current professional path. EMBA programs typically take two years to complete and are offered in various formats, including full-time, part-time, and online. It covers finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, and operations courses. Some also include courses on leadership, ethics, and entrepreneurship.

2) Upskill: 

If you don’t have the bandwidth to invest in a second MBA, consider upskilling, especially if you only want to get updated on developments in specific business domains. For instance, if you want to learn how to use artificial intelligence for marketing, you don’t need to devote one to two years of full-time study to acquire the necessary foundational knowledge skills. Platforms such as Coursera or EDx offer several courses with certificates. 

3) Join professional association

Joining a professional association, such as the American Marketing Association, Society for Human Resource Management, or American Bar Association, is a great way to network with other professionals and learn about new trends in business. These organizations often offer educational programs and resources to help you improve your skills.

4) Community organizations

To build a broader socio-professional network, join a community organization such as Toastmasters International or Rotary International, which draws members from the social spectrum.

Pursuing a second MBA can benefit those seeking to enhance their business knowledge, expand their career prospects, and develop specialized skills. However, before committing to a second MBA, careful consideration should be given to the costs involved, the potential challenges of class demographics and campus recruitment, and the specific policies of business schools regarding second MBA applicants. 

If you need help deciding whether you should pursue a second MBA or need any assistance with your applications, get in touch with us. Our experts look forward to answering your questions.