Choosing the Right MBA or Degree Program for YOU

Aug 02 2019

As women build thriving careers, an advanced degree can offer a direct way for us to expand our network, opportunities, and earning potential. Many companies even offer tuition reimbursement for employees looking to further their education while working. 

When weighing the benefits of different programs–especially ones that would require taking out significant loans–we need to carefully consider if a top-tier school merits its hefty tuition.

The real value of a degree

Alisa Robertson - SVP and CAO Wisconsin Foundation

Alisa Robertson

Much of the value of an MBA (maybe more so than other advanced degrees) comes from the experience of interacting with other experienced professionals, and the network you develop through that experience. If you want to stay in your current company/industry and need exposure to the technical side of the business, an online program might be sufficient. An in-person program might better position for new opportunities in strategy, leadership, etc. I chose to pursue an in-person MBA program while working full-time. It took 3 years, and it was well worth the investment. The experience of working together with others to get to the finish line was extremely valuable. – Alisa Robertson,  SVP & Chief Advancement Officer, WFAA


Robin Douthitt - Emeritus Dean and Professor at U of WI - Madison

Robin Douthitt

Ask institutions for placement data and career services. Do they facilitate placement? With what companies do they have strong placement relationships? Ask for specific statistics. If they can’t or won’t give you that information, it speaks volumes. You will work very hard to get your degree. The key is what doors will the institution open for you? – Robin Douthitt,  Emeritus Dean & Professor, UW Madison



Weigh your goals

Cecelia Gore - Executive Director at Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation

Cecelia Gore

Think about your personal and professional goals. How do you experience learning? – Cecelia Gore,  Executive Director, Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation



Mary Schmoeger

I’ve worked with leaders who won’t hire a person with a 4.0 GPA, won’t hire from an online school, won’t hire a top management role with a candidate without a college degree, some only search ivy league schools, etc. Write down a list of pros and cons for each approach, and cross reference them with your goals. Select the one that aligns best.  – Mary Schmoeger, Accomplished C-Suite Leader


Education vs. prestige


Building Brave Mentor Deanna Tillisch - President & CEO of United Performing Arts Fund

Deanna Tillisch

Evaluate the less expensive option to see if that program meets your expectations with quality professors, coursework, student body, flexibility, etc. Find out how the program will complement your undergraduate degree. Talk with current students and alumni. You may find that your state university is competitive with more prestigious options and makes for a sound investment. – Deanna Tillisch,  President & CEO, United Performing Arts Fund


Building Brave Mentor Denise Knoblich - Vice President of Marketing Roth Living

Denise Knoblich

Approach it as a business problem- what is the ROI for a top-tier program? How many years will you have to work before there’s payback? Keep in mind, a state program that can be paid for by your current employer and has immediate profit of earning potential. Does a fancier school command more income post graduation than a state school? By answering these questions, you will find clarity. – Denise Knoblich,  VP Marketing, Roth Living


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About the Author

Meghan Wollack


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