5 Best MBA Alternatives For 2023 [Save Time & Money]

By: Ariel Smotrich

5 Best MBA Alternatives For 2023 [Save Time & Money]

5 Best MBA Alternatives

1. Take the brunchwork Business Intensive — named a top ‘Alternative to an MBA’ by Forbes!

2. Get involved with local start-ups or nonprofits

3. Start your own side hustle or business

4. Take on a cross-functional, stretch project at work

5. Join professional clubs or organizations


Background on MBA Alternatives

For our parents’ generation, the MBA was a safe career move. Today, traditional business programs are out of touch and MBA alternatives are on the rise.

Students go into the MBA with big dreams and come out with crippling debt. It’s not just the $500,000 cost that gives us pause — MBAs don’t offer the value they used to. It’s easy for bureaucratic institutions to fall behind when the world is moving at a breakneck speed. Today, an MBA is useless.

Luckily, you no longer have to pursue a six-figure MBA or pause your career to get access to networks, career opportunities and business skills.

This list of alternatives to the MBA is the answer to your question, “What can I do instead of the MBA?”


MBA Alternatives We Recommend

MBA Alternative #1: Take the brunchwork Business Intensive

brunchwork has helped tens of thousands of professionals build their network, skill up and improve their career.

Our Business Intensive is an immersive course that develops eight critical business skills via sophisticated projects.

We were named to this Forbes list of top online business classes:

You’ll walk away from the Intensive with actionable knowledge in:
• Strategy & Finance
• Pricing
• Communication & Presentation
• Sales & Influence
• Customer Research
• Marketing & Branding
• Web Development

We are pioneers of the “flipped classroom,” so you can expect exciting live discussions, hands-on projects, real-time feedback, and meaningful networking.

Weekly speakers from the world’s leading brands are our secret sauce. You’ll get to tap into the minds of rockstars at companies like Canva, Patagonia, Peloton, Nike and more — the Midas List investors who fund these companies.


MBA Alternative #2: Get involved with local start-ups or nonprofits

Local startups and nonprofits always need help. You can get experience and make an impact through mentoring, investing and volunteering.

Mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs through local accelerators like Techstars. No matter what your background is, startups are looking for your area of expertise. If you’re a marketing whiz, you can provide guidance on overall growth strategy or specific channels. If you have experience in finance or strategy, you can help with fundraising projections and investor decks. By getting involved, you will gain exposure to areas of business where you might not be as familiar.

Angel investing can also be a rewarding MBA alternative, if you take an active, hands-on approach with your portfolio companies. If you have a decent chunk of savings, you can invest in businesses through angel associations (in New York, we have New York Angels) or crowdfunding platforms like Republic and Wefunder. Just remember to start with small checks in the $5,000 range and go from there. The most valuable learnings will happen if you take an active interest in your portfolio companies.

If startups aren’t your jam, you can build your skills and make a difference with organizations like Catchafire or Taproot, where your skills will be matched to nonprofits in need. Nonprofits face a lot of challenges that could be solved with special expertise. That’s where you come in! You can put in as much or as little time as you need, from short consulting sessions to helping develop business plans. Similar to startup mentorship, you will get the opportunity to learn about new areas of business.

Brunchwork MBA alternative.

Pondering what to do instead of an MBA? Mentor at Techstars or another accelerator as an MBA alternative.


MBA Alternative #3: Start your own side hustle or business

The best kind of learning comes from doing. The founders of Apple, Facebook and Virgin Group would all agree. You don’t need an advanced degree to build a billion dollar business, you just need to put in the hard work.

You will be much farther along than your MBA peers as you get hands-on experience, and you’ll develop new skills and thinking that could boost your performance at your day job!

It’s no secret that launching a startup costs money. Just think, that $200,000 you were going to put towards an MBA, could instead be invested overtime in your business.

It’s never been easier to start a company thanks to no code tools like Bubble.

So where do you start? Programs like our Business Intensive can help — we give you the tools and frameworks you need to take a side hustle or company off the ground.


MBA Alternative #4: Take on a cross-functional, stretch project at work

Don’t be afraid to take on a new role outside of your comfort zone. Moving horizontally can help you pick up skills, and even jumpstart a new career path.

Try taking on a stretch project  — an assignment that will challenge you to think outside of your expertise. You’ll be forced to problem solve and tap into new leadership or business skills. If you do well you just might be in the fast lane for a promotion!

Cross-functional learning opportunities are also a great opportunity to increase your value and professional relationships. Taking on projects that involve working with people from different functions will give you a high level overview of your company and position you to become a better leader or manager.

Take the next step. Talk to your boss about a stretch project this week!


MBA Alternative #5: Join professional clubs or organizations

Growing your network is one of the best ways to make your career bloom. But, it won’t happen overnight. Building professional relationships takes effort and time.

Becoming a member of professional clubs and organizations is a great way to connect with industry leaders, further your knowledge, and gain access to career opportunities. Many of these groups will often offer special conferences, events, workshops and more.

Whether you’re interested in marketing or startups, there’s a niche group for everyone! Some groups that might be work checking out include: Women In Product or American Marketing Association.


Takeaway: What Are The Best Alternatives To An MBA?

The only thing the MBA is disrupting is your bank account. In a rapidly changing world, a stagnant six-figure degree is no longer worth it. Thankfully there are many top-notch MBA alternatives that will give you access to a network, career opportunities, and relevant skills to help you get ahead.

You have probably been asking yourself, “What are the best alternatives to an MBA?” Now you have your answer!

We would love for you to join us in our next Business Intensive. There’s no better time to rewrite your future and advance your career!