Despite taking a “Philosophy of Happiness” class in my undergraduate years, I definitely would not consider myself an expert on the subject (philosophy OR happiness). But a recent article on Forbes.com caught my attention, claiming that (gasp) happiness is the newest benefit of an MBA degree.
I know what you’re thinking- everyone expects salary raises, increased confidence, or a larger network post-MBA. But an increase in happiness? Not the end-result I imagined.
In the article describing the MBA Happiness Index 2013, the organization MBA50 asked 1,108 participants from business schools around the world to evaluate their happiness levels 12 months before their MBA, during their MBA, and post-MBA. Here are the results:
Though their survey may not be the most scientifically valid study conducted, it still brings to light some interesting data about MBA graduates. With happiness being such a relative term, you do have to take any data with a grain of salt. Beyond the numbers though, it’s intriguing to evaluate why MBA degree holders might report elevated levels of happiness. For this question, I agree with the survey’s authors. They cite that common studies on happiness have come to the consensus that ” ‘meaning’ (or values, or community, or empathy, or engagement with the public good) correlate strongly with peoples’ reported happiness”. So, consequently, people must be finding meaning during and after their MBA. Happiness is different for everyone, and therefore “meaning” is also different for everyone. Maybe one student finds meaning in the Ethics curriculum, and is able to effectively apply it to his/her job. Maybe one student finds meaning in being productive and accomplishing a goal, and receiving a diploma. Maybe another graduate finds meaning in the network and community that they’ve built over the course of their program.
For all you skeptics who say that happiness for MBA grads comes from the higher salary or finally an end to the nights of endless statistics problems, sure- I imagine there’s a bit of truth to that. But the same study also asked respondents which aspect of the MBA program made them happiest. Coming in at #1, was “Self-Development”, with 42.2% of the answers. “Financial Reward” on the other hand, only clocked in with 2.7%.
While I don’t plan on conducting a happiness survey of my own anytime soon, I think it’s definitely a topic worth bringing up in conversations with TMMBA Students. Granted- with less than one month to go til Graduation for the Class of 2013, I’m sure the responses may be a bit skewed….
In conclusion, I’ll close with a quote from my “Philosophy of Happiness” Class (Professor Alfino would be so proud…). Fittingly, it comes from Aristotle, who said “Happiness depends upon ourselves”. In that sense, I think connecting an MBA to a personal journey of self-fulfillment and happiness is quite fitting. Of course we’ll let our students and alums be the judges.