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Business School Alumni Embrace Entrepreneurship

Posted By GMAC, Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 17, 2014

One of the most frequently asked questions from prospective business school or management students is:  “I’m focused on being an entrepreneur; why should I get an MBA or other masters degree when my success and satisfaction will be in building my own company?” 

New research from the Graduate Management Admission Council, makers of the GMAT exam, lends power to the idea that a graduate business or management degree is, in fact, for entrepreneurs, too.

“While entrepreneurship is a hot topic and is a very popular course of study at today’s business schools, these findings suggest that business schools have always prepared students to launch and manage their own businesses,” says Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. “Even if alumni don’t become entrepreneurs at graduation -- something more common with today’s graduates -- their business education provides the career flexibility and the skills that help them start businesses years later.”

In its largest ever sample of b-school alumni – nearly 21,000 alumni responded, reaching as far back as graduates from the class of 1959 – the 2014 Alumni Perspectives Survey found that overall, 79 percent of alumni from the classes of 1959-2013 currently work for an employer, 11 percent are self-employed, and 5 percent were retired. The findings include a snapshot view of business school alumni entrepreneurs:

  • The percentage of business school alumni who are now self-employed ranges from 5 percent of the classes of 2010-2013 to 23 percent of those who graduated before 1990.
  • Average time from graduation to self-employment also varies by graduation decade: three years for the classes of 2000-2009, nine years for 1990s graduates, 15 years for 1980s graduates, and 20 years for those who graduated before 1980.
  • Forty-five percent of alumni entrepreneurs from the classes of 2010-2013 started businesses at graduation, as compared with just 7 percent of alumni entrepreneurs who graduated before 1990.
  • 14 percent of recent (2010-2013) alumni entrepreneurs work in the technology sector, compared with just 2 percent of those graduating before 1990. More than 3 in 10 self-employed alumni work in both products and services and consulting (each 31 percent).
  • Among citizens of the Middle East and Africa, 4 percent of class of 2010-2013 and 15 percent of class of 2000-2009 alumni self-employed.

Even more important for anyone considering a graduate management degree:

Around the world, the vast majority of MBA and other graduate business degree holders rate the value of their degree highly (94 percent), report high degrees of job satisfaction (83 percent), and say their expectations for the financial return on investment of their graduate management education were met or exceeded (79 percent). In general, the percentages of alumni reporting satisfaction with their business degrees, jobs, and careers increased the longer they have been out of school.

So, whether you’re looking to make your own way in the world of business as an entrepreneur or if you looking for a career that can provide you with pathways to both success and purpose, GMAC’s findings demonstrate that opportunity and satisfaction are hallmarks of the b-school formula.

For a copy of the survey report, go to

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