Are you considering going back to school for an MBA? One of the questions many working professionals have about going back to school is how to talk to their boss about their plans for self-improvement. Below, you’ll find answers to your top questions about talking to your employer about going back to school for an MBA.
Should You Tell Your Employer You’re Going Back to School?
In all but the most extreme circumstances, yes, you should tell your boss you’re going back to grad school. How exactly to do it is a bigger question, one we’ll cover later on.
Tell Your Boss
Telling your boss that you’re going back to school can also signal that you’re serious about advancement and achievement. Hopefully, your work speaks for itself and has already garnered this kind of good attention. If so, announcing your intention can add fuel to the fire, so to speak.
Your employer may have questions about how you’ll balance your responsibilities. Sometimes that conversation can even border on inappropriate, especially if you have family obligations. Steer the conversation back to your ability to continue meeting your work obligations and the benefits of earning this degree.
In many cases, employers offer support to employees furthering their education, sometimes in tangible ways. Telling your boss about your plans could be the first step to getting real financial assistance from your employer. Some companies also offer leave-of-absence programs that keep your job secure during education-related leave.
Even if you’re quitting your job to study full-time, you should still inform your employer in most cases. You may not intend to return to the company, but you’ll still need good references when you reenter the job market. Don’t burn bridges needlessly.
Skip this Conversation
The only clear exceptions to this rule of thumb are bad ones. You might not want to tell your boss if you’re in a job where you fear retaliation for doing so. This is especially true if you’re planning to quit and study full-time. Just give your customary notice and get out of there. Similarly, if you’re planning to continue working but fear this kind of retaliation, consider whether you can ethically return to school without explaining. (Also, look for a new job! You don’t need that kind of toxicity.)
Consider Your Present Circumstances and Long-Term Goals
Before you formulate a plan for telling your boss that you’re going back to school, it’s essential to take a couple steps back. You need to consider your present circumstances and evaluate your long-term goals.
As you evaluate your life and responsibilities, is it feasible to consider working full-time while getting your MBA? Thanks to the 100% online offerings and evening courses available today, many professionals are able to work full-time while studying part-time—finishing an MBA program faster than they might expect.
Before you talk to your boss, have this conversation with yourself so that you’re completely clear on what exactly you’re going to tell your boss.
It’s also a good idea to take some time to think about your long-term goals. Do you like the company you’re working for? Are you hoping to stay there while you study (or return there once you finish your MBA program)? Is there a realistic path for advancement where your new degree will bring you a benefit at your existing company?
Answering these questions for yourself first matters because your goals after completing your MBA may affect the conversation you have with your boss now. If you see your MBA as a path to advancement in your company, you can leverage that in the conversation. On the other hand, if you’re pursuing an MBA as a ticket out of a company you don’t want to work for anymore, it’s good to have that in mind. Of course, you won’t phrase it that way to your boss. But you need to be clear in your own mind.
How to Tell Your Boss You’re Getting an MBA
Your long-term goals inform how you’ll want to tell your boss about your plans to get an MBA. If you’re doing it to get ahead in your company, don’t be shy about your reasons. Point out the ways that you have benefited your company thus far and the ways you’ve made your current boss’s life easier. Leverage your existing strengths and frame the conversation in terms of the value this degree will add to your contributions to the company.
Before you enter this conversation, make sure you have a clear understanding of how going back to school will affect your work schedule. Be open about potential conflicts and absences. Also, be willing to make adjustments for your employer, just as you’re expecting your employer to make adjustments for you.
If you are resigning from your position to study full time, be clear about that as well. If you hope to return to the company once you’ve completed your MBA, have that conversation now. Even if you’re not sure you would want to return, it doesn’t hurt to have an exploratory conversation with your boss about any future opportunities your new degree may afford you.
When to Tell Your Employer About Getting Your MBA
If you’re resigning to pursue your MBA, take a look at your notice requirement (if you have one). At a minimum, you should give two weeks’ notice. Some jobs require more and list this in the employment contract.
That said, in many cases, you will want to do more than the minimum. The more embedded you are in your company, the longer runway you might want to give your boss to find your replacement. In many professional environments, a two-month heads up could be very helpful. That window provides you and your boss enough time to plan an end or handoff to your various responsibilities.
If you intend to keep working, the timing question is a little more open-ended. You may want to have an exploratory conversation with your boss before you finalize your decision. Once you’ve committed to grad school, we recommend talking to your boss as soon as you can. Don’t wait until a week before your schedule changes. Get out in front of the change and address it head-on.
Get Your MBA at UTC
If you’ve decided it’s time to think about going back to school for your MBA, consider one of the MBA programs in the Gary W. Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Our MBA offerings include a 100% Online MBA program as well as a Flexible MBA. Whether you’re planning to continue working full-time, reduce your hours, or step away from the workplace to study full-time, we have schedules that will work for you.
UTC’s MBA program includes three highly relevant concentrations: Business Analytics, Finance and Healthcare Administration. You can also build a suitable program for your specific career by taking our core courses and your own selection of electives. Additionally, UTC is the only university in the area with AACSB accreditation, giving you confidence in the quality of our offerings.