Unfortunately the programs seem to be full of business undergrads, who go straight from their undergrad and (I guess) see it as a way to differentiate themselves. If your undergrad is not in business, then the accounting and finance training alone is worth it. And lots of people do the degree part-time (as I did) so the argument that its a waste of time doesn't hold up. For the right type of person.
I think this is valid, but there is also another option. In my 4th year engineering (my Masters) I took 3/8 of my courses outside the engineering school: Accounting & Finance; Operations Research, Entrepreneurship. I am extremely glad I took Accounting & Finance and Operations Research - I would highly recommend Accounting and Finance to any undergraduate who thinks they may work in management at some point in their career. The Entrepreneurship was very dry, and I can't remember a single thing that I learned there.
The two scenarios I see as valid for doing an MBA:
1. A lifestyle choice (albeit a very expensive one)
2. To get an opening into consulting / banking if you don't already have a background in it (though there are other ways to do this too). Having worked with many MBA hires in consulting I would say the value of the MBA is putting oneself in the pond from which consulting companies fish, and much less so teaching the skills that consultants need.
If I was to go back to academia, it would be for a PhD for sure.
On your description of courses, well OR was what I did my ABD in, so I'm biased. I personally loved my Entrepreneurship course. I think its professor - dependent. Our professor was a bit of an entrepreneur (and entertainer) himself.
Totally agree. Ours was not an active entrepreneur, though he was a friend. Additionally, I was involved in running the university entrepreneurship society, through which I was exposed to many excellent talks by entertaining entrepreneurs - those made much more of an impression on me.
Some people mention accounting and finance knowledge as one reason to pursue an MBA. Paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for such knowledge seems wasteful.
I have also read articles in the past indicating that there is no correlation at all between corporation performance and whether or not top executives have MBA degrees.
If you want to learn most things there are probably better ways of achieving it. You can gain most knowledge almost free. But Universities give you a bundle of people, a framework, deadlines, teachers and the rest that amounts to something that people don't tend to get elsewhere. It also works without the highest possible level of motivation. While not glamorous, that's valuable.
As far as needing the knowledge, it's a judgement call. There are courses out there with more of a small business focus. It's definitely not a prerequisite, but taking time & resources & dedicating them to gaining knowledge in this area can produce value.
Surely any would-be entrepreneur is better off investing 2 years and $100k in starting a company?
Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6pm to 10pm.
The rest of my time is spent working on starting my company.
And this degree is going to cost me $40k total, all of which is tax-deductible, of course.
I'd say its a pretty good deal.
I'm currently getting my MBA at a really good one-year program, and I'm using it as a testbed and launchpad for my new company. If in the course of a year, with all of the connections and opportunities at the University, I can't get enough traction I'll cut my losses and get a regular (but non-consulting and non-finance) job.
So it's not necessarily one or the other. Doing both is pretty tough, but certainly not impossible.
Doing an MBA is so different than starting a business.
With an MBA, there is no risk, its a fun, intellectual 2 year experience. Even better if you have a business education background, chill out, enjoy the networking.
Starting a company on the other hand is a grind, ups and down everyday.
My MBA gave me the business confidence that I knew pretty much everything that is teachable in business. However, be aware, only 20% or so of business is teachable, much is not yet understood, or dangerously subjective to be applicable to a particular situation.
Get a basic undergrad degree and then get a job in a startup. That is the best way to 'learn' business.