7 Factors to Consider When Deciding Where to Apply to Business School

Linda Abraham - 7 Factors to Consider When Deciding Where to Apply to Business School

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted

After you’ve assessed your profile and have a sense of how competitive you are as an applicant, it’s time to start thinking in broad terms about what you’re looking for in an MBA program. Consider what you need, and what you want. What is important to you – academically, professionally, and personally? What type of environment are you looking for in an MBA program?

Here are seven points to consider as you start this process:

  1.  Academics: This includes the school’s curriculum and overall approach, and any unique educational opportunities you would have there. Would you have the opportunity to test out of some basic, required courses? To take additional electives, if that’s something that appeals to you? Is the school especially strong in a particular discipline you’re attracted to? Are there professors doing exciting work in your area of interest? Would you have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning or study abroad? Is there a preferred pedagogy (experiential, case-based, mixed) and does that method match your learning style
  1. Career services: Depending on your own goals – what are the school’s recruiting strengths? Does it match your needs? What type of support would you have as a student?
  1. Extracurricular engagement: What type of community are you looking for? Are there specific types of activities or resources (cultural, religious, political, etc) you can’t do without? Are there extra-curricular groups and events related to your professional goals? Are they active or only on the web site?
  1. Brand: How important this is to you depends on you, and how you weigh the reputation of programs (as well as how potential employers weigh those reputations). Context is crucial – ranking is less important than what the brand means to you and whoever will be hiring you. The weaker your qualifications, the less importance brand can have for you. You simply won’t be able to be as choosy in this regard as those with stellar stats and achievements.
  1. Environment: What type of learning environment are you looking for? A large school or a small one? Rural campus town, or big city? A diverse learning environment or one with many people like you? A warm, supportive environment or a more competitive one?
  1. Geography: Where do you want to live for the next two years? Do you want to stay in the US, or are you considering going abroad to an MBA program in Europe or Asia? Are there any regions that you’re especially attracted to?
  1. Personal considerations: Do you have a spouse/partner whose needs you must also consider? Do you want to be near family? Do you need to be near an international airport? Do you require special medical resources that can only be found in a large city? Take all your needs into account as you make your list of needs and wants.

An MBA is one of the most significant investments you can make in your future – and choosing the right schools to apply to is crucial to a successful application. If you miscalculate, you could get dinged, or end up stagnating at a program that’s a bad fit for you. To help you avoid these mistakes we’ve created Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One a clear, concise guide. Grab your copy today.


  Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, US News and Poets & Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.

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