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His Online MBA Helped Land Him a 43% Salary Increase. Here’s How

The growth of online MBA programs has surged in recent years—in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, data shows that there were more full-time MBA students enrolled in online programs than residential ones during the 2020–21 academic year.

Fortune recently sat down with Eric Scott, an online MBA student at the University of Illinois, to learn more about his online MBA experience, and how it’s helped him land a 43% salary increase.


One of the biggest benefits of an online MBA program is the flexibility—which part-time or in-person MBA programs usually lack.

“As a CMO, I have a lot of demands on that job and then having a family,” Scott says. “It’s still a major time commitment, but it is nice to be able to do everything within my own home and still be around if I’m needed. But I’ll tell you, Illinois does such a fantastic job, and there’s a reason why they have such a fantastic reputation as an innovator in the online education space. When you’re attending the live sessions, you really do feel like you’re there. It’s so interactive. You get to participate in breakout groups and the professor will call on you randomly like you’re in class.”


For Scott, the reasons for pursuing an MBA are two-fold. On one hand, the degree helps him be more competitive in the workforce.

“The MBA specifically is very well-rounded,” he says. “I want to have a very well-rounded background, and so it would help me strengthen some areas which may have been a weakness for me.”

On the other hand, an MBA has helped Scott become a better leader.

“I’ve always felt I’ve been a good leader, but it’s just taking me to that next level,” Scott says. “Along with furthering my career is a better financial situation—or a salary total compensation increase. Since I’ve been in the program (and I graduate in May) I’ve seen a promotion to the CMO level and a 43% compensation increase. It’s really been just a great move, a life changing experience and just so enjoyable all around.”

A big part of landing that 43% salary increase, Scott says, was communicating the value of an MBA to his boss.

“Checking in, having touchpoints with my boss and communicating different parts of my learning journey and what I’m learning, and the value I’m bringing helped with earning a promotion,” Scott says. “And then just demonstrating it each and every day. I also am bringing this to strategic meetings and coming prepared, having better knowledge of what we’re talking about and being able to guide our teams in better strategic decisions has helped as well.”


In terms of advice for prospective online MBA students, Scott recommends finding a program that fits your needs. He also recommends connecting with others to weigh the pros and cons of specific programs.

“Reach out to current students from the program because everything you see online is not necessarily going to be the real story,” Scott says. “When you’re going through the research process and the decision-making process, definitely talk to current students and get their perspective on the program—not just the positives, but the negatives, too. It’s important to weigh those.”

Sources: Fortune, Inside Higher Ed


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