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Depends on what your career objectives are... both programs are strong. UT has a better name around the State and beyond. The Rice MBA will give you the same career opportunities in Houston as UT, but definitely not outside the state. The Rice name will eventually catch up, but right now the UT is the better one.
From personal experience, I will advise you go with Rice. I attended a class with the UT Houston and it all looked like a joke. I am sure the UT name is great but for me, the fact that they taking classes in an hotel doesn't really go down well with me. Now I am a student @ Rice, I enjoy all the benefit that the day time students enjoy. Also, the UT Houston program does not have electives and whereas at Rice, I have options of electives in Applied Finance, M&A, Private Equity/Venture Capital, Portfolio Management etc. Don't be fooled with what the rankings are saying!
I have applied and got admitted to Professional MBA programs at both UT Austin MBA at Houston and Rice. Both programs offer pretty much what I am looking for ...
In general, which program is better? any thoughts?
It really does depend on your goals and what things you are looking for in a program. I'd suggest going to the info session of the all the programs in town (UT Houston, Rice, Tulane, UH, A&M) and attending the classes. I've done a lot of research on the programs and talked to people at work in each of the following three programs.
Ranking wise UT, Rice, Tulane (Full time ranking, if you use Part Time then UH has to be considered very high in this conversation)
I like Rice's program but I don't like the idea of going to class at night in the middle of the week as a do travel). I was very impressed with Tulane and they delay the payment until after you complete the "module" so if you are getting sponsorship you can get it before you have to pay which is a big deal unless you've got 70k sitting around. They also appear to be moving up through the rankings and just got a nice mention by FT for top 10 places to study Finance. UT is the hardest program to get into and the most expensive but most prestigious of the big 3.
From what I've found is every person is going to have a different take on these three schools and I don't think they are so far apart that I can say one is "better" than the other.
I believe Rice has two different part-time MBA programs--one is the professionals program which is mostly weeknights, and the other is the executive program, which is on the weekends. The executive program is for older, more experienced individuals. I've heard that Rice's coursework is challenging, maybe more so than UT's, but I still believe that the UT name goes further than Rice does. I think Rice will eventually have a more prestigious name for their MBA program, but it will take 5-10 yrs to get there. However, if you want to work in Houston after your MBA, Rice may have a slight edge. It's very close, and you can't go wrong either way.