Five Things to Consider Before Applying to Business School

Jun 11, 2014
Tags: Business School, Choosing the Right School, MBA

Choosing the right school and program is perhaps the biggest decision you’ll make during your graduate business journey. This is your chance to consider your interests, career goals, desired location, and learning style, and match them with a program that’s the best fit for you.

With so many choices out there, finding the one that best fits your unique needs and interests can be a daunting task. You’re probably wondering: “Where do I begin?” Here are five tips to help you start narrowing down your options:

1. Decide which program option fits into your lifestyle and needs.

A great advantage to pursuing a graduate business degree today is the vast array of program choices available. You’re sure to find a program that meets your lifestyle and academic needs.

  • Do you prefer a short, intense experience or a more flexible one?
  • Is an MBA right for you or would a specialized master’s program that offers extensive training in a particular field, such as finance, accounting, data analytics, or entrepreneurship, be a better fit?
  •  Are you suited for a more traditional two-year full-time MBA program or another more flexible program that may be better for a working professional, such as a part-time or Executive MBA program?
2. Evaluate program culture and location.

Two of the best sources of information about student life are current students and alumni. Seek them out and ask them about their programs, the culture, and what it was like getting a degree there.

  • Do you prefer a big city, a small town?
  • Is the climate right for you? Do you prefer sunshine all the time or seasonal variation?
  • Will the local business community be an advantage or disadvantage to you during your time in the program?
3. Seek advice from professional colleagues and human resources staff.

Tap into current colleagues and HR personnel to gain insight into how an MBA or other specialized master’s degree might help you further your career. 

  • What did your colleagues like best about their business schools and what they might have done differently?
  • Did their degree enable them to develop professionally?
  • According to HR personnel, which business schools and types of programs best prepare managers and executives for success?
4. Research faculty and teaching methods.

Teaching styles are much different in graduate business school than in related undergraduate programs, and vary from case methods to lectures. Be sure to ask faculty about curriculum, class size, and styles to gain a better understanding of a program.

  • Is there a good balance between quantitative and qualitative material?
  • How is group work viewed and measured?
  • What kind of faculty interaction takes place in class?
5. Review the curriculum and registration process

When you’re reviewing programs, you’ll want to look closely at each school’s curriculum (core courses and electives), registration process, and course selection.


  • Can you can be exempt from any required courses?
  • Do core courses provide a solid foundation in key business areas?
  • Will the electives allow you to develop specialty areas that you’re interested in?
  • Is the registration process set up in a way that will ensure you get the classes you want?

Start your business school journey off on the right foot.

The Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), the global non-profit council of business schools and maker of the GMAT® exam, offers the Graduate Management Admission Search Service® (GMASS®) database as your connection to more than 400 global programs that are looking for the best candidate— YOU. Simply answer a few questions about your background, your interests, and your career aspirations and the right graduate business programs can reach out to you. The GMASS service lets you learn about business programs that highlight your background and match your interests, and helps you discover scholarship and financial aid opportunities that you may not have heard of before. It only takes a few minutes of your time and it’s free! Visit