When considering taking an MBA, the choice of the business school is crucial. With so many institutions offering postgraduate courses around the world, it can be very difficult. Relying on rankings alone isn’t a very good idea, since each publication calculates rankings in its own way (often undisclosed) and you may end up even more confused. Besides, an institution may look perfect on paper and still not be the right one for you.
So how can you be sure that the business school you’ve been looking at is really a great business school? Here’s a list of things you should research to help you make the right decision.
Rankings: a good starting point
Despite their disparities and occasional errors, rankings are a good starting point for your investigation, simply because the market values top-ranked schools. Just don’t let yourself be constrained by them!
Course Offer: variety is the key
The best business schools tend to offer more courses or more teaching/learning modalities, adjusted to the lives of adult students seeking to update their knowledge.
Faculty: look for a combination of academia and market
Check out the background of the Faculty (most Professors and Teaching Assistants’ resumes are available online). Unless you want to pursue a career in study and research, look for a Faculty that includes former executives; you’ll gain as much from their market experience as you do from theory.
Student Body: strict entry requirements and diversity ensure sound competition
Ambitious students tend to be drawn to business schools with tough entry requirements, so check out average and minimum GMAT scores and the several steps of application processes.
Also, look at former student cohorts for diversity regarding industries and geographic origins (in an interconnected world that favors cross-sectorial knowledge, the possibility of interacting with fellow students with varied backgrounds is a plus).
Location: look at the market beyond the school
Don’t underestimate the importance of location. Most MBA graduates end up staying in the same region post-graduation; Lisbon, for example, now tends to attract future entrepreneurs and is quite a cheap location regarding living expenses.
Class Size: less is more
Small classes may provide more leadership opportunities, a tighter-knit community and a more inclusive business school experience; larger class sizes might attract more on-campus recruiters, present more networking opportunities, and provide a larger alumni network post-graduation.
Student Services: your best friends
During your studies, you’ll interact with a lot of people besides Faculty members and fellow students. Career Support Services are particularly important, but you shouldn’t neglect the relevance of staff members that can help you with health issues, unexpected and inevitable interruptions in your studies, visas, etc.
Curriculum: soft skills are a must
Review the curricula of the courses on offer. The best business schools ensure that the balance between theory and practice, the amount of market exposure and the development of soft skills correspond to the needs of future business leaders.
Extracurricular and networking opportunities: more is more
Explore the extracurricular and networking opportunities that schools promote. Business courses aren’t merely classroom courses; they must promote social and professional interaction outside classrooms, with fellow students, market representatives, and recruiters.
Once you’ve had the chance to explore all of the above regarding your preferred schools, don’t forget to analyze your conclusions bearing in mind your personality and ambitions! The best business school is always the one that’s right for you, and that choice can only be made by you and you alone.
Want to learn more about the joint-MBA of two top European Business Schools? Click here to book a meeting with The Lisbon MBA Católica|Nova Admissions’ Team.
Marta Andaluz is Director of Marketing and Admissions at The Lisbon MBA, a joint venture between two top European Schools based in Lisbon: Católica-Lisbon and Nova SBE. They offer a 1-year Full-Time MBA and an Executive MBA in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management.