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'Getting an MBA continues to be an incredibly good investment': Columbia Business School Dean

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Columbia Business School Dean, Costis Maglaras joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the value of higher education.

Video transcript

ANDY SERWER: There seems to be some controversy about getting an MBA and the value of an MBA. I mean, it's always been out there. But maybe with all this talk about the cost of undergraduate, of course, in this case, graduate school education, some people are calling into question how valuable an MBA really is. How would you respond to that, Dean Maglaras?

COSTIS MAGLARAS: So I think I'll make two comments. But I'll first start from your question directly. I think getting an MBA has been and continues to be an incredibly good investment, investment of time and also financial investment. You get incredible training that launches you into, I think, a very good professional career path. That continues to be true.

In a time of change like the one that we have experienced in the last two years, and I think the one that will be experiencing over the next decade or two, it is itself a good place to actually go retool and relaunch into ambitious career paths. So I think the case for the value offered by an MBA is strong, as strong as it has ever been, and will continue to be strong. Separately, what we do here is we try to make an effort to control the cost of the business school, of an MBA degree, either by keeping the costs down for our students-- and I want to mention that at our school, some other schools as well, tuition right now is 5% lower than it was three years ago in real terms, right?

So we're bringing tuition down. Separately, we're increasing financial aid that we're giving to our students to make education affordable. And simultaneously, we're trying to make sure the value of the degree continues to be as strong as possible.

ANDY SERWER: Maybe jumping off that point-- and this is sort of a flip-side question. And forgive me if this is sort of, like, you know, Costis can't win for trying here. Are MBAs too successful?

In other words, you look at the starting salaries of people coming out of business school. And I think that-- what was it-- at Columbia in excess of $170,000, is that correct? That's a lot of money. And are you concerned that MBAs exacerbate inequality in our society, even?

COSTIS MAGLARAS: Well, no, but I do think that MBA students that come through our programs and other programs need to become socially responsible leaders. And that's an emphasis in our curriculum while people are here in the school, but also an emphasis when we're talking to our alumni. We have a role to play-- you, me, and certainly our alums that sort of lead very successful professional lives to really think about the role of businesses within society and sort of try to alleviate the tensions that we are experiencing today. So I think-- I don't think MBA students or graduates amplify inequality. But I do think they should be part of the solution to that problem.

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