Dear Mentor:

After agriculture, my MBA?

I am an BSc [BS] agriculture final year student. I have following queries which are my problems right now. What is most lucrative field under a MBA degree for an Agriculture graduate that would ensure a good salary after MBA? What would make someone with an Agriculture degree more marketable if they decide to obtain an MBA? Is it better to join an MBA programme or wait to find a company to finance it? What are the chances for the company to finance? How much will I have to spend over the scholarships, if at all I get it, for an MBA course? Will I get any job in USA or Australia or Canada with my Agriculture degree so that could finance myself for my MBA? Thank you for answering my doubts.

Mr. Unsure, India

Dear Mr. Unsure:

Although admission requirements for an MBA vary from country to country, let alone from college to college, the basic requirements include the successful completion of a Bachelor's degree in any field and taking some entrance exam, such as GMAT. Having said that, your chances of admission obviously depend on your performance.

Once admitted, your MBA specialization need not be dependent, in any way, on your specialization in the undergraduate (Bachelor's degree) program; that is, you should specialize in the area(s) of interest to you. A graduate in Agriculture, or in any other field for that matter, should expand learning well beyond already acquired knowledge and be open to pursuing a career in varied fields. An MBA degree, regardless of your degree in Agriculture or any other field, would definitely make you more marketable and make your career significantly more successful, both financially and professionally.

Whether someone waits for a company to finance their MBA education is a personal preference. MBA programs do encourage or require prospective candidates to acquire 2-5 years or work experience before pursuing an MBA. Not many companies finance the MBA education of their employees, and when they do, they require the graduates to commit to a certain length of employment with the company after the MBA.

Financial aid is typically not available to International Students for MBA programs. International Students are prohibited from undertaking employment. That is, you are expected to finance your own education. The costs in the US would range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year, depending on the location and quality of the institution, for the 2-year program. As an International Student in the US, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week on campus, but the money that can be generated from such endeavors is nominal compared to your requirements. Moreover, you are likely not to be able to afford such time for part-time work, given the rigorous demands of an MBA program. The costs in Canada would be in the range of CAN$15,000 to CAN$25,000 per year, and International Students are not allowed to undertake any form of employment.

We have answered many MBA-related questions in our earlier columns. These are relevant to your personal situation. You can review these from the the Dear Mentor: Archives.

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