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Is the recession over or is it still in progress? Is it the end, the middle, or about to start up again?

Wherever it stands, the middle of 2007 saw one of the worst financial crises in U.S. history in which unemployment rose and the stock market floundered. During this time and since, many escaped to educational institutions to broaden their toolset in the workplace and make themselves more appealing to employers.

Institutions across the country saw historical increases in MBA applications, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. Although no individual is fully recession proof, according to John Weiss, director of MBA programs at Colorado State University, they are able to “weather the storm” better than those without the degree.

Most Sought After Degree

“The MBA is the most sought after degree in the hiring profession,” said Marcia LaReau, founder of Forward Motion, a career services company in Connecticut. “Those who have one have a leg up. There is no way around it.”

Weiss said earning the MBA gives employers the indication that a person is serious about their career.

Earning an MBA through an online program may be the best way to attain the degree, according to LaReau, especially for those who are currently employed. She said students will be able to apply what they are learning while they are working and do it while they are being challenged in various aspects in the workplace.

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Whether on-campus or online, she said people looking to advance in their career and remain confident in or out of a recession should take a step out and learn everything they can about business now. She added that the MBA needs to be accredited and that it needs to be taught on global terms.

“The curriculum must be global,” she said. “A U.S.-based MBA isn’t going to be helpful. We’re in a global economy whether we like it or not.”

Weiss added that not only does the MBA add to a professional’s credentials, but it gives them the ability to be more conversant in their work environment. He said it gives them a much greater depth of knowledge of their particular business language, whether it be marketing, accounting, finance.

The Perfect Time to Earn an MBA

He said the recession saw an increase in MBA applicants, but suggested that during a good economic times, it would be a wise choice to earn an MBA.

“During a down economy, people want to re-educate themselves,” he said, “but when the economy turns up, businesses become more apt to help pay for the MBA. That fell off during 2008 to 2011. It is the genesis of a good time to enter into getting a degree like an MBA because people can get support from their employers for the first time in about five years.”

Perhaps now is the best time to earn the MBA but LaReau added that potential MBA students need to do their research on the schools and not just by visiting the website or speaking with faculty members.

“Go find people who have an MBA from that school,” she said. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to do that?’ LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to see if that program is beneficial.”

LaReau said people change jobs every four years and need to remain in step with what their career is. Gaining an MBA is a necessary step for many in the business community looking to become more recession proof or simply create a more impressive resume.

“In 2008, when people went back for their MBA, their chance of getting considered for a job increased by 80%,” she said. “It’s huge. (Employers) immediately cut out people without a degree. Then everyone has a bachelor’s degree. The MBA is immediately in the top 5%. They are more exclusive.”

Follow Dustin Bass on Twitter @dustincbass.