How Do I Evaluate Which MBA Program Is Right For Me?

Oct 15, 2012
Tags: Applications, School Selection

Jackie Buchy: George Mason University

Provided by Jackie Buchy, Assistant Dean for Graduate Enrollment, George Mason University School of Management 

Whether you are just beginning the process of researching MBA programs or are in the final stages of deciding which school is right for you, there are certain questions you should use to evaluate MBA programs. 

1) What kind of support network is available?
A quality MBA degree program will enhance your ability to think strategically, manage efficiently and lead confidently, increasing your expertise in a comprehensive array of business topics including finance, accounting, marketing, and more. Support from your university community is essential to the quality of your MBA experience. It should come from your peers, faculty, staff, career counselors, alumni, and campus services. Look to see if the MBA programs are offered in a cohort structure providing the opportunity to collaborate, solve problems, create solutions, and support fellow students throughout the learning experience. 

2) Is the University strategically located to enhance my future career opportunities?
You will make connections during the program both professionally and personally so consider if the location of the school is a place where you would want to reside following the completion of your degree. Consider if you want to be in close proximity to a major metropolitan area such as Washington, D.C., or New York City? Find out if the location of the school provides greater access to jobs or internships.

3) Does the program I am considering offer opportunities for applied learning experiences?
High-impact activities outside the traditional classroom can be just as valuable as the classroom experience, allowing MBA students to integrate theory with practice to advance their leadership and management abilities. These opportunities could include meeting major players in your field, internship placements, and permanent positions with companies relevant to your interests. Look for these opportunities within a MBA program to apply the knowledge you are gaining in the classroom to your everyday experiences. 

4) Does the program I am considering offer a global perspective?
No matter how strong the classroom curriculum is, there is nothing like visiting a different country and encountering new cultural and business perspectives. There are multiple benefits of engaging in an international experience during your time in a MBA program. You will learn about new business practices and cultures that will enable you to provide valuable insight to your employer. Some universities and business schools provide centers focused on international business and development. These centers often strive to advance research, curriculum, and outreach activities focused on global business. They may foster relationships with academic institutions and private and public organizations around the globe to generate mutually beneficial research, teaching, and learning opportunities. Find out if the schools you are researching have opportunities for you to become involved. 

5) What will be the return on my investment?
You will want to make sure the money you are investing will be returned with significant growth and the time committed is worth it. In addition to the financial return on your investment, what will the personal return be? Know that you are not investing in a MBA program only for the knowledge you will gain within the classroom. Know that investing in a MBA is investing in your future. This is an opportunity to create a lifelong network of trusted colleagues and friends. A good place to start in your research is to ask yourself why you want to pursue a MBA and what do you hope to gain from earning your MBA? 

For more tips, questions, and points to consider as you research MBA programs visit som.gmu.edu/mba and download the free eBook "5 Things You Need in a MBA Program."

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