Is An MBA Really Worth It? Confessions Of A Self-Made Millionaire

3 Factors to Help Determine Target MBA Programs

Many times, prospective applicants will prioritize reputation or ranking in their business school choices. There are several aspects to consider when choosing an MBA program. While prestige may be important, there are many other aspects to consider as well.

Here are three factors from Stacy Blackman, a Kellogg grad who heads Stacy Blackman Consulting, that applicants should also factor into their decision-making:

1.) Flexible or fixed curriculum

There are two types of curricula that prospective MBAs should consider when looking at the right program: a flexible curriculum or a fixed curriculum. According to Blackman, a flexible curriculum is one that allows students to customize their MBA program to best fit their career objectives. Programs such as the London Business School, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management all offer students a flexible curriculum. Some programs may require a core curriculum, or a fixed curriculum, that is generally taken during the first year. While a required core curriculum may seem tedious, Blackman says, “the shared experience fosters strong social connections among classmates.”

2.) Career Services

A business school with a quality career services department can help increase the chance that an MBA will land a good job after graduation. Blackman says a quality career services department is often the most overlooked factor when MBA applicants consider programs. “Having well-defined career goals is crucial to determining the best MBA program for you, so find out whether the career services office specializes in specific industries or sectors or has dedicated consultants for each industry,” she says.

3.) Community culture

According to a 2016 survey by Stacy Blackman Consulting, only 12.7% of respondents consider an MBA program’s culture as the most important factor when deciding on the right program. Yet, Blackman says, “finding that good fit with the MBA programs you’re targeting is one of the best predictors of your overall enjoyment of the b-school experience.” Opportunities available at business schools such as clubs, abroad programs, or experimental learning programs can offer students a whole new factor to consider when looking for the right program.

Choosing a right program can be time-consuming. While prestige and rank are important, weighing other factors—such as curriculum, career services, and culture—can ensure that the program you choose will best meet your professional and personal needs.

Sources: US News, Stacy Blackman Consulting

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