My friends say an MBA after the age of 30 won’t do me any good. Are they right?

I am 29-year-old successful telecommunications professional currently working as manager in a multinational telecom concern.

I am planning to apply to HBS through the Fulbright Scholarship Program. If inducted, I would be able to study anywhere within the US (provided I get the admission).

This plan would mean an admission into HBS (if i ever get close to it) or for that matter any other decent business school at an age of 31 and that I would have completed my MBA by the age of 33.

Many of my friends are advising me against this plan. They say that an MBA degree after the age of 30 won’t do me good.

I need your experienced take on this subject.

–Farukh

The Harvard MBA says:

Farukh,

I’ll keep it short and sweet, rather than doing  a whole discounted cash flow analysis:

I have plenty of friends who did their MBA after the age of 30.  It had a major impact on their career, and I know they don’t regret it one bit.

Given the continuing increase in human lifespan, the difference between getting your MBA at 29 and 33 is negligible.  It’s like saying that if you can’t get a driver’s license before the age of 19, you shouldn’t bother.

Another option, perhaps lower-risk, is to do an online MBA.  That way you don’t have to give up your job or relocate.  The rewards in terms of networking and connections won’t be as great, but it may be a better risk-reward ratio for your needs.

Your friends may be well-meaning, but in this case, you should reject their advice.

4 Comments

  1. Will
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Hey Chris,

    Your analogy makes a lot of sense. I never looked at it like that.

    Currently, I’m beginning a MS business program to enable a career transition. I noticed in finance the career tracks are pretty much set ie analyst -> mba -> back into finance for a higher role. I want to obtain a MBA down the line. Do you it is realistic/wise to aim for an MBA in about five years (completed around mid 30s) and expect the same jobs as the applicants who are usually are in their late 20s/max 30? I am under the impression that many employers will not hire certain groups for positions one they exceed certain demographics, such as an investment banking associate at age 35 with no banking experience. Thanks.

  2. admin
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Will,

    I had plenty of friends at HBS who were older than me. Some were in their mid-30s at graduation. I never heard of them being discriminated against, and they’ve done just as well as their younger classmates.

  3. Dawg
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    That analogy doesn’t make sense. A driver’s license is something everyone needs regardless of occupation, whereas an MBA is something for a small portion of the population.

  4. Jn
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I am also considering an MBA to break into an investment banking career, however, age seems to be a concern as well as my current work experience. I am wondering if being a MSc in Electrical Engineering with work experience of 7 years and most current position of senior manager would actually work against me if I wanted to transition to investment banking. I Will be 35 when done with MBA. Any comments will be appreciated.

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