From Military to MBA: Why Veterans and Current Military Members Should Consider a Business Degree
Earning an MBA can be beneficial to both current military members and veterans. Take Lt. Cmdr. Gale Abraham Cook III, for example: He already has a thriving career in the military working in supply chain management for the entire United States Navy maritime and submarine force. But Cook aspires to achieve more. With a desire to grow and advance his military career, Cook is working toward his MBA degree from the University of Kansas.
“The KU online MBA program makes it possible for students, particularly those with demanding day jobs, to set their own pace, learn useful skills and succeed academically,” says Cook, who often works 12-hour days while balancing life as a student. “The support staff and faculty are second to none, and their empathy and willingness to help students are truly commendable.”
Cook is just one example of a military member who is trying to better himself while serving our country. For veterans and active-duty military members alike, an online MBA program has countless benefits.
Creating a Bright Future for Veterans
While active-duty military servicemen and servicewomen might be looking to advance their military careers (like Cook), military veterans transitioning from service to civilian life may be wondering about their next steps. From maintaining communication procedures to using critical thinking to overcome tactical obstacles and problem-solving deployment logistics, the military poses plenty of unique challenges. The skills needed to overcome these challenges lend themselves well to the world of business, and for many veterans, pursuing a career in business makes perfect sense.
The business world gives current and former service members the opportunity to use and further develop the teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills they’ve built during their service. With employment for business occupations expected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026—which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports is faster than the average for all occupations—there are many potential business careers available to veterans.1
Obtaining an MBA degree is a valuable path for veterans specifically, for a wide variety of reasons:
- They can gain the most up-to-date global business knowledge available
- An MBA degree is an impressive credential for your resume and may be a requirement for certain positions
- Working toward an MBA provides veterans with valuable networking opportunities, including connections with students and professors
And military experience can be an invaluable asset that can help you thrive in both your online MBA education and in your future career:
- Military service requires teamwork, leadership and communication—all skills highly valued in today’s business environment
- Those with a military background are prepared to respond well to high-pressure situations
- Business professionals require time management, goal-oriented productivity and diligent responsibility—skills critical to military success as well
Veterans entering the business world will find that MBA graduates, on average, have the potential to earn a higher salary than those with a bachelor's degree or lower. The 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report by the Graduate Management Admission Council found the total compensation package for MBA graduates can range from a median of $75,513 for an entry-level position to a median of $440,122 in total compensation for C-suite executives.2
Online MBA Programs: Assets for Active-Duty Service Members
In an online MBA program, students have the ability to learn and study in a digital environment enhanced by a rich array of multimedia. Online students are able to connect with other students and professors through online forums, as well as through video and audio communication.
These online courses also include group projects, giving students opportunities to practice working in a business environment in a safe and supportive school setting.
The flexibility of an online MBA program is conducive to active-duty military members, allowing them to continue their service protecting our country while simultaneously studying and earning their degree. Course work is accessible at any time, on any device, so students can learn on a schedule that works for them, without needing to relocate to a specific campus location.
The objective of any MBA program is to prepare graduates to lead in global business environments. Students learn core business competencies in classes related to:
- Business law and ethics
- Business strategy
Online MBA programs like the one from the University of Kansas excel at high-quality digital delivery of this content. “I was surprised that the materials presented in the online program were largely similar, if not identical, to the materials presented in the brick and mortar classrooms,” Cook says. “I still keep in touch with several other Navy students who are finishing their MBA classes [on a campus], and I feel that I received the same quality educational experience that they received.”
And for active-duty service members, an MBA can provide skills they’ll be able to use to improve their efficiency in their day-to-day roles. Cook, for instance, says he applies Pareto analysis principles he learned in his statistics class nearly every day at work.
When asked about studying for an MBA degree while actively serving in the military, Cook recalls, “The staff and faculty at KU were exceptionally helpful and understanding of my emergent military career situation, which made transitioning to the KU online MBA program a very easy choice. The level of care and assistance displayed and provided by the KU staff is what sets this program apart from others of its kind.”
What Is the Online MBA Application Process Like?
Having an undergraduate business degree is not a requirement to apply for most online MBA programs. At the KU School of Business, for example, the application requirements include:
- Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or equivalent
- GMAT score or waiver
- Resume or CV
- Three letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
As you can see from these admissions requirements, there are many ways to translate your military experience into an effective application. Detailing work in the military, leadership examples, and ways you either used business-specific thinking during your service time or plan to use business practices to advance your military career can show admissions staff what makes you a great MBA candidate. And explaining military experience in simple and straightforward terms on a resume and in other application materials can help emphasize your communication skills during the admission process.
MBA Financial Aid and Resources for Veterans and Military Personnel
Active-duty and former military service members have access to several types of financial assistance that can help them achieve their online MBA goals. These include the GI Bill and Earn While You Learn programs, and the KU School of Business collects information on all of these veteran financial aid options here.
There are also military-focused scholarships available, as well as a wide range of other scholarships that may fit service members’ backgrounds and credentials.3
The KU School of Business is dedicated to ensuring that veterans and active-duty military members have a smooth transition from service to school—in fact, we’re proud to have earned a Top 5 ranking in the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 rankings. Those interested can visit the Lt. Gen. William K. Jones Military-Affiliated Student Center online to learn about military and veteran resources for MBA programs. The school is committed to providing those who have served, and continue to serve, with access to valuable information that can help them pursue higher education.
Get Your MBA From the KU School of Business
Military members considering their future during or after service may be interested to learn more about the benefits of the online MBA program from the KU School of Business. From expanding business skills and knowledge to providing a degree that is well-respected by the country's top employers, there are many ways an online MBA degree can help active-duty military service members and veterans successfully navigate the next steps in their careers.
Think you’d be a good fit? If you're interested in how an online MBA can help you, download a free brochure online today, or speak to an Admissions Advisor at 855-639-7799 for more information.
1 Retrieved on October 22, 2018, from www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm
2 Retrieved on October 22, 2018, from gmac.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/measuring-program-roi/2017-gmac-alumni-perspectives-web-final.pdf
3 Retrieved on October 22, 2018, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2017-11-10/how-mba-applicants-with-military-backgrounds-can-fund-their-education