Six Tips for Choosing the Right Graduate Business Program

May 4, 2014
Tags: B-School, Choosing the Right School, MBA

Ruthie Pyles, Jared Barlow, WP CareySix Tips for Choosing the Right Graduate Business Program

Submitted by Ruthie Pyles, director of Admissions and Recruitment, and Jared Barlow, associate director of Admissions and Recruitment, at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

When evaluating which MBA program to attend once you’ve been admitted to several, you’ll probably start by making a list. When you do, make sure you include these criteria when choosing the best program for you:

  1. Download FREE GMATPrepLocation. Location. Location. Every location has advantages and disadvantages. Do you want to be in a small town or a big city? Are you someone who needs to experience the four seasons? Or are you someone who wants sunshine every day? Think about family. Is it important to have your family close to you, or are you ready to branch out and look for new adventures?
  2. Let’s talk industry. Depending on your area of expertise or functional area of interest, are you someone who needs to be close to the Pacific Rim, Asia, or Australia? Or are you someone heavily interested in the banking industry, who wants to be located near Wall Street or elsewhere on the East Coast? Discovering types of companies that serve a desired community or region of the world could be an important factor to consider.
  3. Let’s talk community. Each university you have applied to has a vision – for both the school and the community. Is this the vision you have for your business school and post-business school career?
  4. Consider your brand. Which areas of your brand do you wish to develop? Can the school meet those needs? Look for a school that has expertise in those areas. If not, is that really the right program for you?
  5. Inquire. Start asking questions. Talk to current students, staff, and alumni. Learn about mentorship opportunities, executive connections or thought-provoking leadership speaker series. Does the school connect you locally, as well as globally? Does it provide you with ways to connect outside of a team room and outside of the university community? Are the professors and staff focused on being responsive to an ever-changing business environment and not being complacent in the way things have always been done? Does the institution help you create partnerships and provide advocates who are there to support you even after you graduate from the program? For example, the W. P. Carey School of Business has an alumni network of more than 90,000 and ongoing career assistance.
  6. Finally, let’s talk money. Funding your graduate program is not going to be an easy task, but this is going to be an investment in yourself and an investment your future. It is important that you evaluate all your options and compare your financial packages at each institution. I also caution you not to make your final decision based only on the bottom dollar. Many items without a price – such as friendships, travel opportunities, clubs and organizations, and networking opportunities – aren’t as easily to quantify when helping you achieve your leadership and career potential. In many ways, your MBA experience will be invaluable.