How to Find the Right MBA Program
Choosing a business school can be a tough decision. Yet, experts say there are a number of considerations applicants should look at when deciding.
Stacy Blackman, a contributor at US News and founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed several ways applicants can use MBA rankings to come up with a list of target schools.
Blackman says the first factor to consider is overall quality of a school. Fact is, the school name matters for a number of reasons.
“Higher-ranking business schools can provide peace of mind as far as the quality of the education, career opportunities and networking potential are concerned,” Blackman writes. “Fair or not, employers often judge potential hires by the perceived quality and value of your education.”
Return on Investment
In a recent P&Q article, we used three-year data provided by SoFi to determine which schools offers the best return on investment. This year, the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business offered the biggest bang for the buck. Notably, Wisconsin grads pull down an average salary for of $122,532 against an average debt is $52,568
Blackman recommends that applicants examine a number of specifics when looking at return on investment.
“For example, review cost-related data, such as tuition, required fees, average indebtedness of students and percent of graduates with debt,” Blackman writes. “Then, take a look at factors related to career and salary, like percentage of graduates employed at graduation and three months after graduation; average base salary; and average signing bonus.”
Strength of Specializations
Specialization rankings offer a clear picture of quality programs if you know what you intend to study. Top b-schools offer highly-regarded programs in nearly every specialization; however, a number of lesser-known schools also offer strong niche programs.
For instance, according to a P&Q article, The University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business (ranked No. 65 overall) was recently named No. 1 in International Business, according to 2019 U.S. News & World Report MBA rankings. Similarly, Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business (No. 37) offers the highest-ranked Supply Chain/Logistics program.
In an article for P&Q, Zach Mayo, COO of RelishMBA – an MBA recruiting and networking platform – says recruiting starts on the first day of business school.
“Even at schools with moratoriums on recruiting early in the first semester, students are well-advised to start the exploration and discovery process as early as possible,” Mayo writes. “Consulting and investment banking tend to have the earliest timelines (and are the most competitive recruiting tracks) with resume drop deadlines in early December.”
If you want the best odds when it comes to recruiting, you’ll need to find a b-school that offers a number of recruiting opportunities. Blackman says applicants should consider looking at how well alumni are represented in your target industry.
“The network you build with your cohort during business school, plus the alumni network you’ll gain access to, is one of the most powerful and attractive components of the MBA,” Blackman writes. “Finding out how supportive the alumni are can speak to what level of job hunting help and mentoring you might receive in the future.”