If you’ve checked out Phillip Scott Mandel’s new book, An MFA For Your MBA, you’ll know there’s a big discussion about the value of graduate programs–both the Master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing and the Master’s in Business Administration. As he says in the book, Mandel has an MFA in Creative Writing and he sees value in it–though it’s not for everyone.

But what about the MBA? Is it worthwhile? Again, it’s complicated. We asked several thought leaders if the MBA was worth pursuing, and why or why not. Here’s what they had to say.

Also, read all the way to the bottom for thoughts on the MBA from Mandel Marketing’s co-founder, Jason Mandel (who does have one).

Parental Influence and Online Flexibility

I pursued an MBA at the behest of my parents, who both hold advanced degrees. If they hadn’t pushed me to get it, I probably would have settled with a bachelor’s degree. Since getting my MBA back in 2012, I do not feel it has positively impacted my career overall, besides adding more to my student loan debt tally.

The one thing I did like about the program was that it was online, so I could continue to travel while I was in school, and the subject matter was a bit easier than my undergraduate degree. I would advise against getting an MBA unless it’s from a top school and you have some work experience.

Kim Butler, SEO Strategist, Online Optimism

Broaden Connections and Refine Strategies

While my peers consider an MBA an ideal pathway to become a professor, pursuing this enabled us to broaden our connections, refine our ways of conducting marketing strategies, and learn best practices from different industries.

An MBA challenges professionals to think bigger and exposes us to different business environments. What I liked most is when students have a debate about topics concerning business ethics. This enhances how we view every decision we have to make as business leaders. We also gain insights into who will be affected and the effects of our actions.

The thing I liked least is when a professor is not able to point out the relevance of the topic in a business setup. But this rarely happens if you select a good university where you’re going to take an MBA.

I advise business leaders to take an MBA to propel their knowledge and experience—especially if they intend to become part of a management team.

Bianca Nagac, Marketing Manager, MVP Asia Pacific

Ambition Fueled by Credibility and Networking

Why did I pursue an MBA? Picture a young, ambitious me, fresh out of undergrad with a head full of dreams and a heart set on conquering the business world. The MBA was my golden ticket, a chance to sharpen my skills, make invaluable connections, and gain the credibility I needed to break into the competitive marketing industry.

Over my career, it provided a solid foundation in business principles, allowing me to navigate complex challenges with confidence and creativity. The one thing I loved most? The camaraderie and networking opportunities; I met some of the brightest minds, and those relationships have been priceless.

The least? Probably the grueling workload that sometimes felt like it was designed by a sadistic time-management guru. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. And would I advise others to do it? Only if they’re ready for a transformative journey that demands dedication but offers unparalleled rewards.

Lukasz Zelezny, SEO Consultant, SEO ANT LTD

Confidence and Curiosity Unlock Career Doors

In truth, I pursued my MBA to become more amazing (BMA). The experience, to a certain degree, taught me to flex with confidence and earn the invisible key that unlocked decades of doors.

With about eight years of experience between undergrad and business school, I paid my way through by serving fajitas and “margs” as a more mature student who excelled in finance and law. All of the above surprised me and ignited a no-limits type of curiosity. If I could ace finance as a communications major, anything was possible.

I packed a U-Haul and moved from Boston to NYC, where the big city amplified opportunities with global companies and brands. Salary stepping stones led to six figures, and I credit the baked-in focus and competitive seasoning required for that advanced degree for some award-winning successes.

Communication is a commodity that elevates across the business spectrum. I have journeyed through verticals of fashion, accessories, luxury, publishing, finance, and urban agriculture with advertising, marketing, sales, and journalism. With a pinch of management and then as a freelance entity, I come equipped with the knowledge that speaks C-suite, and there is no conversation I cannot understand. Once you learn to think big, you will never think small again.

Nancy Prentice, Senior Copywriter, The Next Write

Chose Experience Over Immediate MBA

I didn’t pursue an MBA for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I saw some older classmates and even family members pursue an MBA immediately after getting their bachelor’s degree, and it didn’t help out a ton. Sure, they had a fancy degree, but they still had zero job experience, which, in my experience, has been more valuable to employers than a piece of paper. I also saw a lot of classmates and friends getting MBAs right after college, not because they even wanted an MBA so much as just to put off ‘adulting’ and real life a few years longer. Lastly, I figured if and when I get an MBA, I’m going to have my employer pay for it. I’m not going to come out of pocket for it. I’m finally now completing my MBA.

John Frigo, E-Commerce Manager, Best Price Nutrition

Opted Out of MBA for Marketing Career

I did not pursue an MBA because I felt that, with my career in marketing, it wasn’t required to have one. I also did not want to go to more school after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, so I just opted out of getting an MBA.

Madison T, E-commerce Manager, My Supplement Store

Unexpected Benefits (from Mandel Marketing Co-Founder)

I initially went for an MBA because I thought it was my ticket to the client side for a CPG organization (such as PepsiCo). But I was dead wrong — it didn’t do that at all. In fact, what I learned was that an MBA was far more useful to me as a strategic lever in business than a path to corporate/cubicle slavery.

An MBA is expensive… really expensive. But that is fine, because it was an amazing learning experience. I went in with a cohort of students and we all graduated together. We took a trip to China for a Global Leadership course, which was fascinating. At the time, I was SVP of Global Marketing at GARP and my biggest growing market (even bigger than the US) was in fact China.

An MBA was also a big confidence booster for me. I was a shit student in middle school, a shittier student in high school, and the shittiest student I could possibly be all throughout college. But somehow I managed nearly a 3.5 for MBA.

Also, as luck would have it, my old MBA Marketing Professor, Dr. Ed Petkus, went on to become Dean of the Business School at Ramapo College. I reached out to inquire about adjunct teaching, and a couple of conversations later I was an Adjunct Professor teaching marketing to future MBAs and undergrads. And let’s be honest, no one on earth would have had me teaching marketing at the college level on their bingo card. Certainly not me… Guess it was good thing I got that MBA after all.

Jason Mandel, co-founder of Mandel Marketing

So, Should You Get an MBA?

Sadly, that is not something we can answer for you. As you can see, there are a lot of different opinions on the value — and requirements — of an MBA. They’re expensive, time-consuming, and difficult. They also aren’t necessary for a lot of careers. But they can open up many doors, some of which were entirely unexpected.