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How to choose an MBA programme

Gone are the days, where there were only a handful of good business schools to choose from. Today, there is a plethora of B-schools on the international market, offering everything from full time, part time, online, distance, accelerated and executive programmes.

Many schools have also shifted from general management to specialized programs such as real estate, energy, social media, healthcare, and aerospace. The decision which business school and which programme to attend is far from easy these days and affords thorough research. So what should you do to find out, what is right for you?

1. Ask yourself, what you want to get out of your business school experience. Would you like to move up within your company, add business knowledge to a specialized degree like an engineer, change industries, increase your salary, work in a different country, etc?

2. If you are tempted by a specialized MBA, check carefully if it does give you enough of the thorough business knowledge that an MBA generally stands for. Would you like to work for a company or rather start your own business? There are programmes and schools that focus way more on entrepreneurship than others. The same goes if you want to end up in marketing, investment banking or aim for a career in Wall Street.

3. How much can you afford to spend on your MBA course? The famous business schools might be expensive but a degree from a no name school might have no impact on your career whatsoever. So carefully weigh up your chances of where you can get in, what you can afford and what will benefit your career. If you have a certain company in mind, where you’d like to work at after your MBA, call their HR department and ask their advice. If calculating your savings, don’t forget that you don’t only have to pay school fees but that you also need to put some money aside for your everyday living. If it all gets too hard to afford, think of part-time and online options.

4. After narrowing down your ideas, visit campuses, sit in on a class, and talk to current students and alumni. Always aim for two to three business schools that you target as you might not necessarily be accepted at the one that you favour.

If you don’t get into any of your business schools of choice, don’t despair. There’s always another year to apply again and not every great entrepreneur has an MBA. Apple’s Steve Jobs was a university drop out and Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg left Harvard to pursue his business venture. But an MBA can certainly help you get started by being in a supportive and creative micro-cosmos, building up a network across industries and enjoying the extensive funding, advice and resources of a business school. Super model, TV producer and entrepreneur Tyra Banks has just recently attended Harvard Business School for example, Phil Knight has founded Nike after getting a Stanford MBA and Jeffrey Immelt went on to become CEO and chairman of General Electric after graduating from Harvard for example.

Sources and further reading:
Own research
U.S.News-Money
Chicago tribune

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