Should You Get Your MBA During a Recession?

Clemson University MBA Program
3 min readJun 29, 2020


The National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER) Recession Dating Procedure generally waits for back-to-back quarters of economic downturn to stamp the official “recession” label on the US economy. But things haven’t been normal since the pandemic and the meteoric rise in unemployment has caused the committee to officially announce the recession has arrived.

While it’s tough to predict who will be out of a job next week or next month, 60% of chief executives believe the recovery will follow a U-shaped pattern. This means we’ll see a decline remain 12 to 24 months before the economy recovers. The good news? It’s not the worst-case scenario — that letter designation goes to L.

The world is experiencing this economic depression together, but hope for recovery remains strong. What matters is what you do in the time between the downturn and when the economy kicks back again. This means going back or staying in school is a viable option for many young professionals asking themselves: now what?

What does a recession mean for college students?

The graduating college class of 2020 will forever be defined by the coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, the class of 2008 is remembered for entering the workforce at the worst possible time. But there is a distinct lesson we learned from 12 years ago: It’s a good time to be a college student during a recession.

If the graduating class of 2020 ever needed a sign to stay in school, the current state of the job market is all they need to see. Opportunities to gather invaluable work experience on their resume are slim, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to refine marketable skills.

As business students fight in a shallow pool of opportunity, obtaining an MBA could prove to be the most constructive path for the future. In today’s digital age, MBAs have never been more accessible. Graduates can now budget their time by taking a part-time opportunity while working on their education online.

The evolution of the online MBA has made this possible. Virtual classes you can watch live or later are as accessible as ever. Sophisticated online curriculums that provide the same value as lessons taught in-person have been refined through years of online learning.

And you can’t forget the best part: the normalization of online school and the credibility it now holds. People are finding the value of educating themselves online while still building future connections with their classmates and professors as they would with an on-campus degree.

Is it the right time to do an MBA?

Riding out the recession by completing your MBA online is one of the best ways to maximize your earning potential down the road. In 2014, the Financial Times found in a survey that students from the top programs who started degrees at the start of the 2008 downturn and who graduated in 2010 saw their salaries double.

John A. Byrne, the founder and editor-in-chief of Poets & Quants said at the time, “The MBA degree, for all the questions raised about its value and worth, remains one of the most valuable educational experiences on the planet.”

This still rings true today. It may look different now that it’s obtainable online, but the education is just as strong.

College students and working professionals: Now is the time to prepare yourself and become a stronger candidate once we reach the final upward curve of the U-shaped recession.



Clemson University MBA Program

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