If you're a smart, ambitious professional with a range of skills, ideas and initiative, do you really need a master's degree - and the associated six-figure debt - to achieve all you want?
Business Insider recently polled a variety of recruiters, CEOs and entrepreneurs on how important an advanced degree really is in today's business world.
Here are the takeaways:
Find the program that's a good fit for you.
Are you just out of college or are you an industry veteran with years of experience? Find a program geared to your experience.
Enroll in an elite MBA program or none at all.
"I don't think, from a hiring point of view, that anyone cares if you have a MBA from the University of Phoenix," says Jonathan Guidi, the president of HealthCare Recruiters International.
Don't bother if you enjoy start-up life.
Advanced degrees aren't necessary - or attractive - to many start-ups.
MBAs don't deliver automatic success and advancement.
"It doesn't make you a better professional," says Tony Beshara, president of Babich & Associates. "You're either good or you ain't. I would make the same contention regarding undergraduate degrees, too."
If you want to be an entrepreneur, don't bother with an MBA.
"I've always found it odd that people go to business school and study entrepreneurialism," notes Apu Gupta, Curalate founder and CEO. "If you want to study entrepreneurialism, you need to go be an entrepreneur."
The degree won't get you the job.
But it will help you do it better, thanks to the skills you learned and demonstrated.