Is getting an MBA worth it in 2023
Committing to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree offers great rewards, but it does require a big investment of both money and time. If you are thinking about doing an MBA, then you’re likely to wonder whether it is worth it. In this article we will look at the all the MBA essentials you’ll want to consider in your decision.
There are conflicting opinions, and it can be difficult to cut through the clutter and competition for enrolments. Things are further complicated by someone like Elon Musk voicing his doubts on the value of an MBA degree. However, for every upstart and unconventional billionaire, there are hundreds of business leaders who attribute their success to the opportunities provided by their MBA.
Completing an MBA will not only give you business and leadership skills to further your career but will also expose you to networking opportunities and allow you to join the alumni network. As the cynical saying goes “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” An MBA covers you on both fronts.
We’ll go into further detail on the perks of an MBA to help you decide if pursuing an MBA degree is the right decision for you, or to help decide on when would be the best time to make that commitment.
List of CEOs in South Africa with MBA qualifications
With the focus of an MBA being on business management and leadership, it helps to know how many people with MBAs are actually in the very top positions of leadership and management. To get an accurate picture of what qualifications lead to great business success, we looked into the executive management of the biggest companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Seven of South Africa’s 20 largest companies have CEOS with an MBA
At the time of writing, the 10 largest listings on the JSE Top40 index are BHP Billiton, Prosus, AB Inbev (the international owner of South African Breweries), British American Tobacco, Glencore, Naspers, Richemont, Anglo American, FirstRand, Anglo American Platinum and Standard Bank. Although BHP Billiton leads with R2,235.9 billion, MBA graduate Bob van Dijk is CEO of both Prosus and Naspers, which together are worth R3,242.9bn. If you are considering an MBA, you will be further inspired to know much of Naspers’ rapid growth over recent years has been attributed to former CEO Koos Bekker, who also holds an MBA. Anglo American Platinum’s CEO Natascha Viljoen also holds an executive MBA (EMBA).
The next 10 largest companies in South Africa are MTN, Vodacom, Capitec, Sasol, South32, Impala Platinum, Absa, Kumba, Mondi and Goldfields. Among these companies the number of CEOs with MBAs is much higher. Cellphone giants MTN and Vodacom are both headed by CEOs with MBAs: MTN CEO Ralph Mupita and Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub hold MBAs. Trailing close behind in market capitalisation is Capitec, which is a relative newcomer and has done a fantastic job of taking market share from the country’s older established banks. It is worth noting that much of the bank’s rapid growth was under the leadership of CEO Gerrie Fourie, who also holds an MBA. Four spots behind, rival bank Absa is headed by MBA graduate Arrie Rautenbach.
Other wealthy South Africans with MBAs
Outside of the corner offices of the 20 largest public companies there are thousands of others who also enjoy much wealth and success. The Africa Wealth Report produced by New World Wealth and Henley & Partners looked at the qualifications of Africa’s high net wealth individuals (HNWIs). These are people who hold at least $1-million in liquid assets.
The report didn’t give a specific figure for MBAs as they are grouped together with other accounting, finance and commercial degrees. Together these account for 28% of the qualifications of South Africa’s 39,000 HNWIs, trailing very close behind the 30% who hold law degrees.
If you are interested in the earning potential of an MBA degree, you can read which MBA specialisations pay the most.
Types of accredited MBA or Business Courses in SA Business Schools
The South African Business Schools Association (Sabsa) represents all of South Africa’s registered business schools. These come from within government, business fraternities and the education sector and there are 22 recognised business schools offering MBAs in South Africa.
South African business schools offering accredited MBA programmes need to be registered with Sabsa. All legitimate business schools and other learning institutions in South Africa are also accredited by the Council on Higher Education. If you are thinking of studying an MBA in South Africa, then you want to ensure your chosen business school is accredited
Just in case you were wondering, UJ Online’s MBA programmes are accredited through the Johannesburg Business School, which in turn falls under the wider University of Johannesburg umbrella.
Common MBA entry requirements at South African Business Schools
The South African Business Schools Association (Sabsa) acts as a representative membership organisation for South Africa’s business schools. It stipulates the generic MBA requirements for entry into any accredited South African MBA programme as follows:
- A four-year bachelor’s degree OR
- A post-graduate diploma (Business Administration) at Level 8 OR
- An applicable honours degree OR
- A recognised prior learning (RPL) process
- Plus any additional admission requirements set by the individual business school
Sabsa also notes that the length of the MBA programme can range from one year to four years, depending on the business school offering it.
For UJ Online, the programme takes two years, but it is structured to be flexible enough to study part time and can also be completed over a longer time.
Steps to Choosing the right MBA course for You
If you are considering studying an MBA, it is important to think carefully about your current situation, your longer term goals and what exactly you want to get out of your MBA. There are many things to consider when trying to choose the right MBA course.
People enter MBA programmes from a range of different backgrounds. For example, some MBA entrants run their own companies and are looking to grow their skills to better lead that company to success. For others, they might be taking time out from their career to build their skills base so that they can return to the working world a step or two higher up the corporate ladder. Yet another might be working full time in a particular discipline and find that they have hit a bit of a ceiling in their career and that they need to gain both more specialist knowledge and some management skills to further their advancement potential.
You will need to think carefully about where you are now in your life and the resources you can realistically commit to your studies. Studying requires both money for the tuition and the time to complete courses and assignments. You will want to select an MBA that you can afford both financially and time-wise. It is not so much just about how to choose the best MBA in South Africa, but rather about how to choose the best MBA that works for you.
The Cost of Studying an MBA Degree in South Africa
MBAs are not known for being cheap, but the return on investment can be very rewarding. Internationally, the most expensive business schools in the US and Europe can charge about R2-million to R3-million for their courses. Here in South Africa, with our weaker currency, we do at least enjoy far lower tuition fees.
Although some SA schools can charge up to R350,000 for a full-time course, with additional costs for travel modules pushing this up by as much as another R100,000, the cost to study an MBA with UJ Online is R193,620 for 2022 for the entire tuition programme.
This cost of an MBA degree at UJ Online doesn’t have to be paid upfront and can instead be paid off one module at a time as you progress through your course. This way you don’t have to commit your finances or time fully to the programme. If at some stage through your course you find you are unable to commit the fees or the time, it’s possible to take a break for a few months and pick up the next module at a later stage. This flexibility has been specifically built into the degree with the understanding that it can be a challenge at times for people with full-time work and other commitments.
Things to include on the MBA motivational letter
Some MBA providers require a letter of motivation along with proving that you meet the academic requirements when you submit your application.
When writing your MBA motivational letter, don’t just repeat the academic qualifications and work history, which you will have already given. To make your MBA motivation letter count, it should include new information to argue why you are ready to start learning the business and administration skills that are covered and how it will further your career.
At UJ, you do not need to write a full motivational letter, but you do still need to motivate your application. When making your application at UJ, you will be asked to write 250 to 300 words explaining how your classmates will benefit from having you on the MBA programme. There is also a slightly shorter section asking about your goals after completing your MBA and how you believe an MBA will help you achieve those goals.
The selection processes for both the UJ online MBA and the JBS face-to-face MBA are highly competitive and both seek to select students who will not only cope with the academic demands of the programme, but who will benefit the most from what they will learn. Meeting the academic entrance requirements does not guarantee acceptance onto the programme, so it is important that you provide a strong motivation.
Here are some common questions that prospective students have when considering MBA courses.