Tips for choosing a business school and MBA program

Everyday we face situation where there are choices and we have to take a decision. Our choices can range from our personal interest to academics and from professional environment to career decisions. One`s ultimate career goal depends upon one`s reason(s) for choosing a specific profession, or a graduate program or a top business school. Therefore, certain choices can have everlasting impact on your life.

Choosing a business school is a very important and intricate decision. Your choice will impinge on your career and your future. Before applying to any business school, there are many factors, you need to consider. Every b-school is unique in terms of - the degree it offers, the cost of program, the curriculum, the size of school and class, the reputation of the school and university, the exclusiveness, the geographic location and of course the placement statistics. As a prospective student, you need to get into details and analyze some essential features of the school, you are applying to, in order to ensure your future after you pass out.

Here is a generic list of criteria considered while choosing an MBA program:  

  • Class size and scope for interaction with faculty and classmates
  • Well-known faculty research
  • Modules to prepare you for your target industries, functions and your short-term and long-term goals
  • Career placement opportunity in your target industries
  • Social life at school
  • School’s reputation for leadership, teamwork or competitiveness
  • School`s presence near a big/vibrant city or business hub
  • In a certain geographical region (Europe versus North America)
  • Starting salaries for graduates of the school
  • Strength of alumni network and alumni chapters
  • Option for Joint-degree programs
  • Program cost and other opportunity costs
  • Availability of part-time or executive mode of studying
  • Learning style or methodology (Example: classroom, case method, field work)
  • Program duration (one year versus two years)
  • Exchange programs with other reputable business schools
  • Scholarship options

Surprisingly, there are a myriad number of applicants who do not have a proper idea what they want to do after the MBA, which makes it much harder to decide on an appropriate program. This may be one reason as of why business schools insist their students of having crystal clear goals. Academic programs require a statement of purpose because they want their applicants to know the purpose of their studies. Once you get admitted to your preferred program you can tune or change your goals. But for application purpose, you need to have concrete goals. 

If you know where you want to be after completion of your program, it would be much easier for you to match your goals with school’s strengths and offering. When you match school`s profile with your committed goals, you will have a part of the equation for choosing the schools to which you will apply. The other variables that also matter are, your work experiences and your interpersonal skills, and the most important of all your qualifications. Analyze, if all of these prove you as a fit for the school or vice versa.

Obviously, you will have other variables to consider too: Finances and scholarship opportunities, and other factors such as location of the school. However, these issues are secondary to sort out, hence, first match your strengths, your goals and your qualifications with the school requirements. Getting an MBA is not a simple task. The financial investments are significant and the opportunity cost is high. Consider whether you would or would not be financially able to quit your job if the program requires you to do so or do you have enough time and confidence to balance the two. Going to both work and getting graduated from a school simultaneously can have an impact on your family as well as your personal life. Therefore make sure to explore all your options and weigh the pros and cons before committing to a program or school.


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