Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review Germany, a well-known provider of test prep and MBA Admissions Consulting in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.
MBA programs are very specialized and require a good amount of investigation and consideration. "How will this MBA program help me to achieve my personal and career objectives?" This is the first question to ask you before choosing an MBA program.
The answer will give you a structure to operate within comprised of those types of courses the MBA program will need to cover. The structure will also give you ideas of what you can do with your MBA once you graduate. It’s fairly simple. You want to be an investment banker, so investigate all the schools with that specialization.
Different business schools have strong reputations in traditional MBA specializations such as finance, marketing, international business, etc. Once you’ve narrowed the search down to approximately five or six schools that best offer the content you need for an MBA in your targeted field, you can move ahead to look at the more vital details, i.e. school’s accreditation, faculty, locale, and cost.
Here’s a brief overview of some key factors to consider:
Full-time or Part-time?
Are you planning to earn your MBA quickly? Or are you thinking to spread school out over a period of years so that you can continue to work?
Full-time MBA programs typically run two years but can sometimes be shortened to 12 or 16 months. The first year deals with the core curriculum that is broad in nature. The second year is spent taking electives in your chosen field, however it’s also a great time to network.
Part-time MBA programs usually take three or more years to complete. You’ll be taking evening classes and have access to the same faculty and courses as the full-time students only with a more flexible schedule. In addition, some employers offer tuition assistance to part-time MBA students.
What Are Your Career Goals?
Choosing an MBA program may also depend on what you hope to gain after business school. Are you looking to enhance your potential within the same field or are you interested in starting over with a career change?
Graduate certificate programs offer additional training in your chosen field, however, this is not a full MBA degree. You should investigate the certificate programs versus the degree programs. One advantage of a certificate program is that you’ll get custom and tailored expertise without the two or more years in a classroom. There are disadvantages as well so look into this aspect well.
Dual and joint-degree programs allow you to combine an MBA with another graduate degree in fields as diverse as law, medicine, engineering, education, to name a few. As you may have guessed, earning two degrees requires a huge investment in time as well as money. You may consider this option, as it has been known to open doors to outstanding opportunities for those with very targeted career goals.
Which Locale is Best for You?
Here you have a few choices. Metropolitan city, suburban town, your hometown, or rural area. Focus on where you would prefer to study: are you the type of person who is energized more in a major city or would a peaceful setting with little distractions be better? Is it important to stay close to family and friends in your hometown? Making connections during your school years on a professional as well as a personal level is a given. Ponder whether you’d like to reside at the school’s locale when you graduate. Let’s say you connected well with local school counterparts, you might consider starting a business partnership together there, or you might think in more general terms: does the area have enough opportunities to advance your career?
What Types of Support Does A School Offer?
Support from your school environment is, without a doubt, essential to the richness of your MBA experience. It should come from peers, faculty, career counselors, alumni, and campus services. Find out if the school’s MBA program has resources that allow you to problem-solve, brainstorm, collaborate and support other students. In terms of school support, another item to consider is employment opportunity. It’s no secret that business schools know your top mission is to get a job after you earn your MBA. At Manhattan Review, we tell applicants to pay attention to the employment statistics of the school. How many graduates are placed in major companies of your targeted industry? Another great source of information about employment statistics would be the program's alumni. Most schools will connect you with alumni in your chosen field, but there are other sources as well, including social networks that allow for advanced searches by industry, company, and even job title.
Think Long-Term When It Comes to Financing.
When studying for an MBA, financial costs can be high. You’ll need to cover tuition, living expenses, books, technical equipment, miscellaneous costs, etc. However, the better the school, the better the return on your investment. In addition, the better the school, the easier you can obtain financing. If a top-tier school wants you, you can bet they’ll assist in getting your studies financed. Never settle for second best if you can get an MBA at a top school (with our help). In general, your investment will pay off after a few years on the job plus consider the value of having Harvard appear on your resume versus the name of a second-tier school. That said, there is no reason to compromise. Getting into an MBA program at a top-tier business school should be your one focus.
To sum up, realize that you are not investing in an MBA merely for what will be learned in the classroom. Undoubtedly, investing in an MBA is an investment in your personal as well as professional future. Yes, it might be expensive, but long-term it’s certainly worth it!
For more insights into the MBA selection process we recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from Manhattan Review’s director of Admissions Consulting, a former member of Wharton’s admissions board.