Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by MBA Gateway Team
SELECTING THE RIGHT MBA PROGRAM
Having discussed the different variations of the MBA program, we would like to more closely examine the variables that applicants consider when selecting an MBA program. Here are the top ones that influence applicants’ selection decisions.
Length of the Program
As we discussed earlier, a number of variables affect your deci- sion of whether to pursue a full-time two-year MBA program or a part-time or executive MBA program. Is time a factor for you? Are you trying to complete the MBA in as short a time as possible? Is the high cost of an MBA prohibitive? Are you already in the industry you want to be in? Can you bypass the summer internship? If you answered yes to these questions, it may be worth exploring MBA programs that are less than two years. Many of the top MBA programs in the United States have one-year or accelerated MBA programs. Chicago, Kellogg, and Columbia are just a few examples that come to mind. The MBA programs outside of the United States are also good options if time is a major factor for you or if you are open to an international career. INSEAD and IMD are popular programs in Europe that offer a full-time MBA program in less than two years.
Is geography of critical importance to you? Some candidates cannot imagine themselves in an urban environment; hence schools like Haas, Chicago, Columbia, and HBS will not make sense for them. On the other hand, there are applicants for whom the small town community of schools like Darden, Tuck, and the Johnson School at Cornell University is ideal.
Individuals seeking international exposure must take the geographic location into account. Candidates planning to pursue a career in Europe may want to consider programs like IMD (Switzerland), INSEAD (France), Bocconi (Italy), and London Business School.
Size of the Program
The size of the class can also play a significant role in where an applicant chooses to apply. The small program size of Haas (University of California, Berkeley), Tuck, Yale School of Management, and Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) could be a major draw for some applicants and a turn-off for others. So decide whether you are someone who will thrive in a large environment or a smaller, more intimate one. Having clarity on the environments you enjoy will save you the hassle of going through two years of misery in a place you hate.
We can’t discuss variables affecting school selection without addressing the teaching methodology of the programs. Darden and HBS may be appealing to some applicants for their emphasis on the case study method (90 percent of the teaching is done via the case method), whereas this idea can be terrifying for other applicants. Also, some candidates believe you cannot teach finance effectively through the case method and would be loathed to attend a program that is primarily case-focused.
The flexibility of the Program
MBA programs differ in the range of flexibility they offer their students. MBA programs like Chicago GSB are among the top programs with significant curriculum flexibility. This level of curriculum option is ideal for candidates who are seeking a program where they can exempt out of classes they have taken before in order to create space to take new materials. Stanford GSB’s recently transformed curriculum now offers greater flexibility to customize the MBA program for each student.
International Business Exposure
Some applicants are attracted to international business. So although these students may opt for an American MBA, it is important to them to attend a program that offers the oppor- tunity to either study abroad or tackle an international project that allows them to live abroad. The Ross MBA at Michigan, Johnson MBA at Cornell, Wharton, and Kellogg are some of the programs that offer significant international experience and exposure. At Ross, for instance, you can take a semester exchange at one of the finest MBA programs in Europe, Australia, or Asia. Stanford GSB can be added to the list of MBA programs that have a strong international exposure since it has overhauled its curriculum. Stanford addresses their goals to “globalize the experience of their students” by stating: “The School will continue to globalize its cases and course materials, and a global experience will be required of each student during his or her two years at the School. This can be fulfilled by a study trip, an international internship, an overseas service-learning trip, or a student exchange, such as the School’s new program with Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in China” (Source: Stanford Admissions website).
Brand of the Program
Last but not the least is the overall brand of the MBA program. There is a certain feel and culture that permeates each MBA program. By visiting the programs and attending classes, you will be in a better position to ascertain whether a program is right for you. The MBA programs also have areas that they are brilliant at and are known for. I encourage all applicants to take the time to thoroughly research each MBA program to ensure that they select the ones that are a fit with their brand and goals. We address the topic of MBA programs as brands in the next chapter