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So, when I did my undergrad degrees in computer science (BA) and creative writing (BFA), I spent the whole time thinking "I'm going to be going into industry. I should take business classes." But since I was doing 188+ credits in nine semesters I didn't have a ton of spare time, and I didn't.

Now, after 5+ years of being in the industry (I'm a software engineer), I've had the conclusion that in fact yes, I should have taken business classes.

So that's what I'm doing. Through the local community college, I've got about ten courses to go until I qualify for an associates in business administration. Now, in a few semesters I'll be the somewhat contemptuous owner of an ASBA.

My question is this: with two baccalaureate degrees in unrelated fields and an associates' in business, would I be able to jump right to an MBA program and expect to do well?

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    That's an odd conclusion to come to. I double majored in business and comp sci in undergrad and never felt like my business classes mattered (Account 1&2, Mgt, Finance, Fed Tax, Marketing, Intl Business). Have you tried applying to a different software shop? Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 19:52
  • I'll add that many masters programs have introductory courses that students can skip if they meet the reqs. I'm seeing this more with Computer Science MS degrees, where you don't have to have a Comp Sci undergrad. Without a CS undergrad, they require to you to take 5 additional introductory courses -- at say $3,000+ a course. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 19:52
  • I've always found it interesting that MBA is one of the areas IBM will explicitly not reimburse tuition for. (Or at least that was true last time I was looking at those benefits.)
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 2:56
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    As I understand it, MBA programs require no undergraduate background in business whatsoever, at least in the U.S. (You typically need an undergraduate degree of some sort, as well as some real-world business experience, but you don't need any specific academic background at all.) However, I've never attended or taught at such a program, so I'll leave a formal answer to people with more direct expertise. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 12:14

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Definitely, but, as a CS grad, then later, an MBA grad, I do have to say that the MBA degree won't help in the tech world, at all, unless you're looking at management opportunities or starting your own business. Getting a Master's degree part-time does impress most employers, however. Since it sounds as though your enjoy academic challenges, go ahead and give it a try, especially if there's reimbursement for tuition. But frankly, you would just be doing this for your own personal development; there's just not much out there right now for MBA's, unless you go full-time to a national top-20 program.

I've found that a Master's in CS is no better than a Bachelor's, so if you're thinking about a CS part-time Master's degree, while you're working full-time in tech, skip it. I once worked for an medium-to-large tech employer (about 2,500 tech staff) who was dead-set against MSCS grads, even at the same pay, since they were afraid that the MSCS grads would expect faster promotions (and frankly, be much smarter than their boss). So, it seems that, in recent years, one has to step up to the PhD level in CS to get a big career boost.

Anyway, with your ASBA, you will not likely have to complete any prerequisites, which are just UG survey courses in Accounting, BA, Finance, Econ, etc. I'll say that if you have a CS BA, you've got the math chops, also, you have the BFA, so you can communicate well (extremely important in B-School...watch old reruns of the TV show "Paper Chase" to get an idea of the MBA classroom, since it's similar to a law school class), so you will likely do very well. I would caution, though, to try to attend the best program in your area. No one hires or promotes from weak programs, though you can get into a B-School PhD program from one, from what I've heard.

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  • I'm not really looking for an MBA to help me in an employment sense. In my experience, the presence of a software engineer who can also talk to people and sell the product does nothing but unnerve potential employers. However, I'm getting ready to sell my own product, and I'd like to spin it up into a full software shop of my own. Being in that position, I really need to understand business from the inside to sell my product better. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 20:24
  • An MBA can certainly give you perspectives well beyond the typical tech perspective, from fields such as Finance and Marketing. I'm not sure how much real networking goes on in most part-time programs, but given your question, I would say it's definitely worth your time. I did also enjoy your other comment, in that I also have the same experience with managers who simply cannot deal with software professionals who can speak well and have intelligence outside the technical field. That's a good comment in general for those ASE readers who might be interested in a US-based IT career.
    – A. Gordon
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 8:24
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However, I'm getting ready to sell my own product, and I'd like to spin it up into a full software shop of my own. Being in that position, I really need to understand business from the inside to sell my product better.

You don't say what country you're in, but in Ireland (and most European countries, I expect), there are free programmes that will teach you everything you need to know to start a business, including accounting, basic tax law, basic employment law, costing and pricing, sales techniques, connecting you to a mentor, etc. Together with your industry experience, that may be all you need. Check with your local enterprise authority/small business council, etc.

I went through such a programme years ago before starting a business. Students received a stipend, and attended day-long classes once or twice a month over the period of a year. I haven't done an MBA, so I can't draw a comparison between what you learn in an MBA and what you learn in a programme such as I went through. But the programme did give me all the preparation I felt I needed.

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  • Well, I frankly expect to receive all the actual tuition I need to successfully run my business from the associates' degree. Jumping to the master's will act primarily as a networking tool once I have the spare money to throw at a master's program. The general idea is that the more I know about businesses and their problems, the more I can build products they will want to buy. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:58
  • That said, though, the program you were in sounds really cool. Sadly, I'm in the US, so teaching me to have a business is, itself, some kind of business. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 22:25
  • @MichaelMcPherson - Check with your chamber of commerce. A web developer I know took a workshop (this was in NY State) that taught him what he needed to know to run a small business. Also the chamber of commerce in my town has monthly events for networking, and you could have conversations with people at those events that would help you find out what people's software needs are. Finally -- you can survey businesses in your area. Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 3:25

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