Finding a right place to get your MBA sometimes can be processed in a haphazard and ill-mannered way. However, it  can be enjoyable and rewarding when you know a simple strategy or helpful professional guidance. Via this article, we offer you some selected guidance so that you can advance on your journey of achieving your MBA degree. 

1. Does it matter where you get your MBA? – YES!

Attending an MBA program is a huge investment and the decision about which business school should really be based on many factors. Here we suggest some necessary angles of research for you to determine which programs will best fulfill your specific needs in both short term and long term. 

1.1 School’s reputation

Most benefits an MBA can grant to attendants rely heavily on the b-school’s reputation. The more prestigious the brand name is, the more credentials and quality networks you have in the job market. Considering this, you have to take into account these two variables:

The business school’s stereotypes: each school offers its own unique characteristics. For instance, Kellogg School of Management is considered as a mere “marketing school” as it is home to Phillip Kolter.  Similarly, it is assumed that Wharton is a “finance school” as it consistently shows a great proportion of graduates ending up in Wall Street.

However, it is like a twofold knife, as you may be denying opportunities to explore a program that might be right for you. Since at least 2005, a much higher percentage of Kellogg graduates have followed Consulting paths, rather than Marketing tracks . And Wharton is actually recognized as having the first-ranked health program and the largest MBA marketing faculty in the world.

So the key thing here is to make sure that you do your research deeply and know what school really matches your area of interest. While each school is usually renowned for certain areas of expertise, it should not be the only determining factor when choosing the right MBA program. Do not fail to consider that these universities also have strengths in other areas.

The school’s ranking: The majority of MBA rankings are available on the internet and they play such an essential role in shaping the opinions of current and potential students about the quality of tertiary education institutions. In terms of ranking, top universities such as Havard, Wharton, Yale,… have significantly produced the most employable graduates and successful students. 

A school’s top-ranking as determined by a single source lacks context as the variables involved will not likely be equal to everyone. As a result, what some would consider key factors may not be counted at all. You should take your time to find out which factors contribute to the rankings and identify the factors that are the most important to you before deciding which programs to target. 

To some points, the rankings can speak volumes about the school, but not all.

1.2 Academic environment 

There are four elements that you should consider when choosing the right MBA school in terms of the academic environment: 

Class size

The size of the class influences your study experience more than you thought. Harvard Business School has more than 900 students in each class while Tuck and the Haas School of Business at the University of California have roughly 250 students per class. Advocates of larger classes tout the advantage inherent in the student’s being able to interact with more of their classmates during their MBA experiences. What we want to focus on here is that you should give yourself time to reflect on your past experience and what type of person you are, then determine which environment you would be more comfortable in. 

Core curriculum

Chicago Booth has a totally flexible curriculum, while HBS has a rigid curriculum – students have no say in which classes they take until year two. The Chicago Booth seems ideal, but the flexible curriculum experiences may consider a cost. Having a rigid  curriculum can  make bonding with your classmates can be a little bit challenging, and or with the flexible one, are you comfortable with different groups of people in each class? And for HBS which has a standard first-year curriculum, even if you are a practiced accountant, you will be required to take a beginner’s accounting class like “Financial Reporting and Control”. Again, make sure you do your research and truly understand the nature of the programs to which you are applying for.

Instruction Method

Imagine this:

  • You are given more than 20 pages long to read
  • Your job is to try to fill the manager’s shoes and analyze the incomplete data, drawing a conclusion about the problems presented in the case. 
  • After that, you have to debate with other fellow students about the solutions, and the next day you might get called from your professor to defend your analysis of the assigned case. 

If you are willing to take this method, HBS or the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business may be a good environment for you to get your MBA.  

Some MBA programs also offer traditional lecture methods, or mixing two approaches or exclusively.  So which method would best allow you to gain what you need from your target MBA programs? 

2. How to find the right MBA school?

2.1 Personal career needs

It’s a common piece of advice but yes, the key to the right choice is understanding the key reasons why you desire an MBA degree and what you expect to take back, those that align with your career goals. You should take time to identify the factors that are most important to your career needs.

Besides the deep knowledge about your major and the upgraded skills, three biggest benefits you can get from your MBA are a quality network of colleagues, more higher-paid jobs opportunities and differentiation as a job candidate. 

The tougher the market gets, the more scrutinized the degree is. Focusing on rankings or going for one known-as “prestigious” are not the right ways to find a suitable school.

  • If your goal is to enter a well-established field like finance or start up a business and have excellent coworkers, the odds of high ranking school are you will have an abundance of alumni and colleagues who will be accessible to you through your career.  
  • If you are targeting a more obscure industry such as nanotechnology or biology, a school having  good facilities and updated labs would be a good fit for your career. 
  • If your ambition is to work at Microsoft, Google, EY-Parthenon,… you should consider where to get your MBA  as  companies are the biggest employers of MBA students from the world’s top business schools.

2.2 Finance (ROI) 

This is a metric or performance measure, usually expressed as percentages, the results of ROI calculations help investors evaluate and compare investments. You can apply simple ROI percentage calculations to help value and compare educational investments like university degrees such as MBAs and specialized business master’s degrees.

You can the common ROI formula: 

             ROI = (Investment’s Gain – Investment’s Cost) / Investment’s Cost

Forbes rankings, for example, are based exclusively on ROI and drawn from pre-and post-MBA compensation, location, and career choice. Forbes examines the five-year gain for MBAs across a host of key factors, while other media, like The Economist rankings, measure ROI in terms of one-year gain to determine early value from first-year salaries against tuition. If you’re tempted to pursue a lower-ranked school because of tuition cost, consider that ROI may also be lower. Better programs have heftier price tags but usually pay greater long-term dividends.

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