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I know this is relative to a person's unique situation or career objectives, but generally speaking, what can a Master's in Business administration do for a computer scientist?

The reason I ask is because I have a bachelor's in CS and I jumped right into a semester of my MBA, having it a third of the way finished. But now I am retracted because I'm not exactly sure what will come of this degree.

Will it propel me in my career (opportunity and/or salary) or will it just be a complete waste?

I guess my initial thinking was that an MBA would allow me to be able to manage some software/IT projects being well versed in development as well as the business side of things that stimulate ideas. But now I am wondering if this would even be the best way to achieve that. I'm stuck at a crossroad and would appreciate some feedback, preferably from someone who has experience in these career fields.

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  • There certainly are opportunities for an MBA with a computer science background, perhaps starting in project management. What do you want to do? What do other MBAs do?
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 11 '20 at 15:03
  • Perhaps project management, thats sorta where I was going with this. But I'm not exactly sure what other MBA's do. Or how it would compliment my CS degree. I was hoping someone could help me be more aware of the opportunities before I discontinue studies
    – aj0320
    Jun 11 '20 at 15:13
  • Suggested title change: What are the benefits of an MBA to someone with a Computer Science degree? / because "Should I..." questions are inviting opinions.
    – shoover
    Jun 12 '20 at 2:05
  • great idea, thank you
    – aj0320
    Jun 12 '20 at 15:46
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I remember asking this question 5 months ago. Fast forward 5 months later and I've accepted a position as an entry level developer! The sweet thing: I got a salary increase because of my MBA! I start in June, which is a month after I'm supposed to graduate. The other nice thing is that the MBA program only cost me about 16k in total, which isn't too bad if you ask me.

In terms of the education itself, I don't regret it one bit because it steered me in the direction of finding financial literacy, which is huge in these times. I was taught all sorts of CS topics, but never the importance of financial literacy. I believe my CS degree taught me how to make money, but my MBA taught me how to manage and KEEP money.

I thank everyone who shared their responses because I remember back then how stressed I was. Everything is pretty smooth sailing now

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An MBA may do 4 positive things for you, especially if it is a prestigious one:

  1. It will teach you various established frameworks and methodologies for dealing with business management issues, introducing topics like business strategy, managerial accounting and financial planning, applied micro- and macro-economics, and applied psychology and business organization. People will argue that you could learn all this on your own from books, but would you take the time? And there is value to someone having designed a standardized curriculum about it.

  2. It will train you up in the "case method", i.e. exercises by group work where you are given background on a business problem and work through some very concrete and some very open-ended questions about it, and present orally and in writing in class about it. There's nothing magical about it, but it teaches you ways of structuring your time, communicating your results, and working in groups (including dealing with minor interpersonal friction) which all have important differences versus sciences and/or engineering.

  3. You will network with your MBA peers, who will form a cohort of mutual support through upcoming decades of your career as you switch from technical to business/management. Many MBAs feel this is the most important of the benefits.

  4. You gain a credential as well as create a breakpoint in your career. There is lots of recruiting on MBA campuses, so you will have lots of opportunities to explore career alternatives; much easier to access than if you were rising from technical to managerial ranks at your current employer only. Even if you return to your current employer, you now have a demonstrable credential and a jolt of external knowledge and validation that is quite likely to earn you at least some respect, and "mark" you as being suitable for a technical->business transition.

It will however:

  1. Cost oodles of money, likely putting you in debt for several years (unless your current employer pays for it), and carries the opportunity cost [that's an example of MBA-speak for you] of 1-2 years of your life you're not getting back.

As to salary, it depends. Pretty clearly the starting salary of an MBA > undergrad CS degree only. By and large, it will probably pay off long term (even after the debt + delay in point 5), but there are definitely niches in computer science where the right expertise is scarce and the sky is the limit for $, and arguably the lifestyle-adjusted $ is higher. But as to whether this will persist over the duration of a career is anyone's guess.

[My germane background: precocious young software developer decades ago, then math Ph.D., then several years in business/consulting/management in roles where my peers had MBAs but I didn't. Now freelance consultant and part-time academic/teacher, including in business schools.]

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what can a Master's in Business administration do for a computer scientist?

An MBA would allow a computer scientist to complement their technical skills with business skills.

Will it propel me in my career (opportunity and/or salary) or will it just be a complete waste?

A business-technical skillset is surely a competitive advantage.

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  • Do you know more specifically the potential opportunities that could arise from attaining both?
    – aj0320
    Jun 11 '20 at 16:35
  • @aj0320 there are a host of positions in private companies that can make use of both a CSci background and an MBA. The most obvious is product manager. When developing a new product it can be extremely useful to have someone who can understand what is technically feasible and what will sell well and potentially make a lot of money. Note though that as the title suggests these are management positions. Soft skills and political acumen may be more important than technical skills. Jun 11 '20 at 16:50

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