Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


college graduates, intrinsic benefits, extrinsic benefits, Leadership studies, Master of Business Administration, University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)


Although numerous studies have attempted to measure the value of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, most of these studies have concentrated on the extrinsic benefits of the degree, such as compensation and career progression. Furthermore, the majority of these studies have focused on students at elite MBA programs, which have traditionally served a different class of individuals than most MBA programs throughout the country. In an effort to broaden the literature in this area, this study examined both the extrinsic and intrinsic benefits of an MBA degree as self-reported by 638 MBA graduates from the University of San Diego who received their degree between 1975 and 2002. Survey results suggest that this particular graduate population benefited more intrinsically from their degree than extrinsically. Specifically, the three ways that students benefited the most—personal development, increased self-confidence, and enhanced credibility—were all intrinsic benefits, while the top extrinsic benefit—gaining more career options—was a distant fourth among the sixteen benefits measured. In addition, the hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that demographic, program-related, and employment variables were all significant determinants of both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits, with program variables explaining the most variation in the set of dependent variables. In terms of the effects of individual variables, Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White MBA graduates, as well those who graduated with Marketing, Supply Chain Management, and Real Estate emphases or from the MBA/MSN program, were more likely to benefit from the degree, while graduates from the MBA/JD program, graduates with more work experience, and graduates now working in government or research and development were less likely to benefit. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the importance of measuring both the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits of an MBA degree in today's business world. Recommendations for future research include expanding the set of independent variables to include interpersonal relationships in the workplace and at home, extending this work to other non-elite MBA-granting institutions, and finally, testing the robustness of these findings to different (and more favorable) economic climates.


Dr. Richards-Wilson was awarded the SOLES Outstanding Doctoral Student Award in 2003. She went on to defend a second dissertation, titled “Willi Graf of the White Rose: The Role of Bildung in His Decision to Resist National Socialism,” at UW-Madison in 2013 and it is available in ProQuest.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access