Brad Feld on MBA Programs

Business school certainly has value and serves a useful purpose in this world. However, the essence of the question points at one of the fundamental problems (and possibly misconceptions) about business school. I’m 40. I don’t believe that the degree I have has ever had any material impact on my “career" during the last 20 years. I can’t think of a single situation where it came up in a conversation about anything that I was considering doing. For a while, I obsessively corrected the “MBA" and “MS" listings that would show up on web sites and in public filings – I finally gave up because I decided it simply wasn’t relevant. While many people wear their degrees as badges of honor on their chests, I prefer to let actions speak for themselves (and – rather than look at the badges people have, I look for the actions.)

If you want a two year break from life, go to business school. If you want to meet a bunch of new, generally smart, and always interesting people, go to business school. If you are a techie but like the business side of things, want to get an intellectual (and functional grounding) in business stuff, want a two year break from life, and want to meet interesting people, go to business school. But please - don’t worry about whether you are getting an SM or an MS or an MBA - that’s not what you are going for.

Recognize this will cost you $100k plus two years of opportunity cost, so make sure it’s worth it to you. There are many careers where you generally (but not always) need the MBA badge to advance to the next level. If you are an investment banker or a management consultant, it’ll help. If you are looking to be a VC, it might help, but it probably won’t, as the population of people being recruited into the VC business continues to be very small. Don’t be misguided by the idea that doors will now fly open to you since you are a newly minted MBA (or MS, or SM.)

Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group and Mobius Venture Capital , weighs in on traditional MBA programs

Brad also thinks the Personal MBA is “interesting and provocative". Good stuff.

Read more essays by Josh Kaufman →

Published: March 8, 2007Last updated: March 8, 2007

Books by Josh Kaufman