Do I Need an MBA for Product Management?

portrait of Steve Gaffney
by Steve Gaffney
Published on October 1, 2021

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Product managers are in high demand, and it's a great time to think about entering the field. Glassdoor ranked product manager third in a list of the best jobs in America for 2021, with over 14,000 job openings. Many of these available positions are in the software and tech industries.

Although you currently don't need an MBA to land a job as a product manager, an advanced degree can help get your foot in the door when applying to high-profile companies. An MBA in product management can also help you climb the corporate ladder faster than you would with only a bachelor's degree.

Why Get an MBA in Product Management?

When hiring product managers, employers typically look for job candidates with a few years of management experience under their belt. An MBA program that offers a concentration in product management can serve as a substitute for much of the experience that employers seek.

Product management is a critical function of the product development process. Product managers must be effective leaders and communicators. They also need skills in product engineering, product development, analytics, research, sales, organizational behavior, and marketing — MBA programs teach these skills through real-world scenarios. Product managers may oversee the production process for a variety of products, from software to foodstuffs to electronics.

Given the current high demand for product managers, more business schools are now offering MBA degrees with concentrations or specializations in product management. This is great news if you plan to enter the field. Even if the business school you apply to doesn't offer a specific concentration in product management, a general MBA program or an MBA program with a concentration in any business area can teach you the tools necessary to excel as a product manager.

There are many advantages associated with getting an MBA in product management. But is an MBA worth the investment of time and money? Decide for yourself by reviewing the pros and cons listed below.

Pros of Getting an MBA in Product Management

Pros

MBA product management programs cover core business areas that you need to master to succeed as a product manager. Product management is a multifaceted role that requires knowledge of multiple business disciplines. Getting an MBA can maketransitioning into product management from another field easier and provide more opportunities to switch to other roles, fields, or industries if you decide later on that you don't want to be in product management. An MBA in product management gives you a competitive advantage over other entry-level job candidates and candidates with limited professional experience. Most MBA programs teach leadership as a core function. Great leadership skills are essential to becoming an effective product manager. MBA programs emphasize collaborating with students from different backgrounds with unique skills and perspectives. This can be helpful when working with cross-functional teams as a product manager. MBA programs help you build valuable relationships and form networks with students, faculty, and business leaders. These connections can prove crucial when applying for jobs after graduation. Many accredited business schools offer online and part-time MBA programs, making it easier for students to earn their degrees while still holding down jobs. Product management internships may be easier to acquire. MBA product management programs often help students secure internships through on-campus recruiting, which can lead to full-time employment opportunities. You can climb the corporate ladder faster with an MBA in product management, as compared to professionals with only a bachelor's degree and a similar level of experience.

Cons of Getting an MBA in Product Management

Cons

An MBA is not a requirement for landing a job as a product manager. However, due to current demand and high pay, more professionals will likely enter the field in the coming years, and employers may become more selective in their hiring processes. Having an MBA doesn't necessarily translate to significantly higher pay as a product manager. According to Salary.com, product managers with an MBA typically earn $68,370-$71,900, while those with only a bachelor's degree typically earn $67,190-$71,210. Work experience in product management can be just as valuable as earning an MBA. If you attend a full-time MBA program, you won't earn a salary. Alternatively, if you enter the field as a coordinator with a bachelor's degree, you will make money while you gain experience. Completing a certification course or becoming a certified product manager may be just as valuable as earning an MBA. MBA programs can be expensive and generally take around two years to complete.

Alternatives to Getting an MBA in Product Management

Frequently Asked Questions About an MBA in Product Management

true What is a product management MBA?

A product management MBA is an MBA degree with a concentration or specialization in product management. This degree is increasingly popular as the demand for product managers grows.

true Do I need an MBA to be a product manager?

While you don't need an MBA to be a product manager, this degree can help you advance your career and climb the corporate ladder.

true Which MBA is best for product management?

If an MBA with a concentration in product management is not available, getting a general MBA or an MBA with a concentration in business management, business administration, marketing, or project management can teach you many of the skills needed to excel in a product management career.

Reviewed by:

Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients with foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships.

Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills, and connect with other high-achieving women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.

Krystal Covington is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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