How Do I Know Which Business School is the Best Fit for Me?

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Once you’ve determined that pursuing an MBA or business master’s degree is a viable option, you will certainly be curious about exactly what type of and which program is the best fit for you. Below are strategies on how to determine this preference-to-fit alignment. But first, get advice in this short video from the decision makers at some of the world’s leading business schools on what to look for and signs that you’ve found “the one.”

Featuring: Steven Ji, Assistant Director, MBA Marketing Admissions & Financial Aid CEIBS; John-Derek Clarke, Executive Director, Master’s Programs Recruitment & Admissions Ivey Business School; Virginie Fougea, Director, MBA Recruitment & Admissions INSEAD; Jon Kaplan, Assistant Dean & Director, Full-time MBA Program UC Irvine – Paul Merage School of Business.

Evaluating business school fit starts with the right questions

Choosing a business school starts with self-reflection. While factors like rank and popularity of a business school can play a role, fit ultimately comes down to your unique needs and wants. Therefore, you should ask yourself pointed questions to unlock your true and in-depth preferences. Only then can you establish personalized criteria to weigh the fit of various MBA and business master’s programs.

To start, ask yourself questions about academics, culture, financial feasibility, and career aspirations. Sample questions include:

Academic-related questions to gauge business school preferences

  • What classes, extracurriculars, and learning opportunities excite you?
  • Do you have personal, professional, or family responsibilities that will impact how much time and flexibility you need in a program?
  • Do the school’s strongest areas of study align with your aspirations? What are the acceptance requirements for the program, and do you (or can you) fulfill them?
  • What learning environment do you excel in?
  • Do you prefer large lectures with more independent learning or do you thrive in discussion-based and small group environments?
  • What kind of academic support—tutors, access to professors, mentorship programs, career services, internships, or other—do you need to succeed?

Considering a business master’s degree, but not sure which one? Answer more investigative questions with this interactive quiz.

Culture-related questions to gauge business school preferences

  • Do you prefer a big or small, urban or suburban experience?
  • Do you like a lot of social engagement or do you thrive with less distraction?
  • Are you most comfortable attending a business school nearby or are you ready to explore a new location, either abroad or domestically?
  • Are you looking for a similar or different peer experience than you received or are receiving as an undergraduate?
  • Are you motivated by competitive environments or do you prefer to work collaboratively?

Finance-related questions to gauge business school preferences

  • Are you paying for business school yourself or do you have help?
  • How long are you willing to wait to generate a positive return on investment (ROI) for your business school investment?
  • Which non-monetary benefits do you believe business school will provide, and how do these factor into your ROI calculation?
  • Are you currently paying off your undergraduate education or other debt? What financial assistance do you qualify for?

Think you’ll need financing? Ask yourself these four questions before taking out a student loan.

Career-related questions to gauge b-school preferences

  • What are your career goals?
  • Are you looking to specialize in a particular professional area, switch direction, or build on your existing knowledge and education?
  • Are you already in the professional world or do you need more support with launching your career?
  • What is your dream career?
  • Is there a particular industry or organization you’re interested in?
  • Where do you want to work after business school?

Determining which business school fits your preferences

After you’ve asked yourself questions to determine what you want out of a business master’s or MBA experience, it’s time to figure out which school and program will get you there. There are many ways to find your perfect fit school. However, according to admissions professionals from leading schools, nothing compares to talking with alumni, students, and staff. These are the people closest to a particular program or b-school experience. As a whole, they offer a valuable perspective, and are your direct line to understanding the academic environment, culture, ROI, and professional relevance of a business school—for you.

Ready to find your best-fit business school program? Narrow down which schools you should connect with based on the programs that align best with your preferences. Use the mba.com tool, Program Finder, to get started today.

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