Choosing an MBA Program

Not all MBA schools are the same. Top companies recruit MBA holders from reliable schools because much of the legwork in determining a candidate’s fitness has been done for them. Schools investigate candidates thoroughly before accepting them to MBA programs, and rigorous programs have high attrition rates, guaranteeing employers that an MBA holder is worthy. How do you distinguish among schools when choosing an MBA program?

Example: Professional MBA Program Student Guide

There are several things to look for. A school’s reputation can be difficult to determine if the school is not among the top three schools in an area. First, see if the school is accredited. Basically, this means the school has the seal of approval of the U.S. Department of Education because it has met certain established criteria and is well-regarded by people at similar institutions.

Any particular school’s accreditation status is available on the Department of Education’s website. Second, you can look at the school’s ranking. Many financial media outlets publish rigorous surveys that rank business schools in different categories like student satisfaction and post-graduation outcomes such as average salary. Many of these publications compile scores in a simple list from best to mediocre to worst. Rankings usually are determined yearly and are available through business magazines and online financial media.

Students also should consider the location of an MBA school. Some cities provide greater opportunities for growth than others. Internships often lead to employment, so they are best taken in a candidate’s target city. People desiring to work in computer technology management might be better situated in Silicon Valley than in St. Louis. Many cities and campuses provide extra bonuses to students in terms of opportunities and activities.

Finally, MBA programs come in different shapes and sizes. (There are even some MBA distance learning programs available these days.) Some cater to professionals and offer flexible schedules while others are full time. MBA programs differ in the specializations they offer and the opportunities they afford students to work in a certain field or with a certain company. An MBA in finance is different from an MBA in human resources, so applicants need as much information as possible about the programs they are considering. Most schools offer comprehensive overviews on their websites and will mail informational materials to applicants upon request.