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Thomas Cooley

Thomas F. Cooley is the Richard R. West Dean and the Paganelli-Bull Professor of Economics at New York University Stern School of Business, as well as a Professor of Economics[…]

Thomas Cooley says an MBA gives your career an edge.

Question: What is the benefit of getting an MBA?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, there are lots of benefits of getting a business education, but typically, the people who choose to get an MBA do so because it gives an extra boost to their careers, but also because they want to have a deeper background and insight about management.  MBA is a degree is general management, so, not only does it give lots of specific skills in areas like finance and accounting, but it also gives broader perspective on leadership and managing organizations and those sorts of things.

Question: Can this be taught in the classroom?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, it used to be the case that business education was, in some sense, largely vocational, but it's really not that anymore.  And at the very best schools, business education is far from being vocational and it really is about developing both the ability to think and analytically, but the think critically, think historically, think ethically about the world of business.  And there's a lot more to it than just what you would get from an apprenticeship model.

Question: Is an MBA graduate better prepared?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, they actually have probably a better frame-set of analytical skills and tools.  All MBA programs offer that.  The very best ones, in addition, offer some sort of broader perspectives about the place of business in society.  And also they've been enriched by being educated at, sort of, a place where new knowledge is being created.  So the very best MBA programs combine both research focus, and academic focus and also a lot of real world experience. We're particularly blessed by our location in New York, so we actually bring the best of both worlds into the classroom.

Question: Is it smart to go to business school in the current market?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, the students certainly seem to think so.  Our applications are up 20 percent this year.  But that's often the case at the beginning of recession.  So it's sensitive to the business cycle.  But yes, it's a good investment.  I believe that, you know, the returns on human capital are still very very high.  So people see it as a good time to invest.

Recorded: 3/21/08