Whether you’re pursuing an MBA to advance your career or prepare you for a new path, the degree has many advantages. Here are five ways an MBA can benefit your career.

1. Achieve a return on investment

MBA students at Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School pay $59,950 for tuition per year for the two-year program. The average base salary after graduation is $108,000.

“After they graduate, they’re going to increase their earning power,” says Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of Olin’s Weston Career Center. “Often, they’ll pivot into a different career or possibly move up in an organization.”

2. Tap into an extensive alumni network

Valerie Toothman was a full-time MBA student at Olin. She’s now the executive vice president of brand and beverage for DrinkWorks, a beverage innovation company.

“An MBA puts tools in your toolkit and it creates a network that is invaluable,” says Toothman, who graduated in 2008 and is still close to many from the program. 

3. Experience the world

Olin’s six-week global immersion program takes students from Washington, D.C., to Barcelona, to Shanghai to study and observe global business practices.

Olin MBA student Matilda Thomas, a native of Nigeria, graduates this spring; but first, she’s looking forward to a class trip to Shanghai.

“Everyone is interconnected,” she says. “Gaining that global exposure is really important for anyone [who is] trying to build a career in today’s world.”

4. Provide on-site education

Experiential learning puts classroom learning into practice.

“Students have the opportunity to work on unique projects with unique companies and really expand on what it means to be a leader, for good,” says Ruthie Pyles Stiffler, assistant dean and director of graduate programs admission and financial aid.

Toothman agrees, saying, “Olin puts a lot of energy into real-world learning.”

5. Unlock your entrepreneurial mind-set

MBA students develop entrepreneurial skills to help them become better leaders and innovators.

Thomas plans to pursue health care management in the United States. Long term, she wants to use her MBA to start her own business in Nigeria.

“An MBA gives you wings to fly,” says Thomas. “You can do anything.”