As the number of schools offering online MBA programs continues to increase, those seeking an MBA degree have more options than ever before. If you are someone who is looking for an MBA program and are overwhelmed by the number of options you have (and even if you’re not), here are some tips for finding a program that meets your needs.
To help support the search process described below, the University of Wisconsin (UW) MBA Consortium created an Excel file you can download that helps you organize information as you choose your online MBA program.
Identify your goals
It may seem like a good place to begin would be doing an internet search for “best online MBA programs” or something similar. But before getting to this point, make sure you’ve fully considered why you want to seek an MBA. Are you looking to: Earn a promotion? Get a raise? Change careers? Check a box? Pursue more knowledge to better yourself? Or is it something else? Different programs can help you achieve these goals at various levels. When making decisions, we frequently talk about the “what” and the “how,” but we rarely talk about the “why.” To help you in your search, make sure you fully understand and consider your “why,” and don’t forget to involve the people around you to help you in this step. If you’re someone who has several years of work experience and wants to move into a leadership role in your organization, the UW MBA Consortium might be good for you. Our core curriculum has a strong foundation in leadership strategies with a diverse array of elective courses that provide students with an opportunity from all industries and organizational roles to customize their focus.
Define your needs
An online MBA is a significant investment, not just of your money, but also of your time. But you should consider other things as well, and it’s a good idea to define these before beginning your search. Ten Essential Questions For Online MBA Applicants from Poets&Quants may help you define what you are looking for. Does class size matter to you? Do you require an asynchronous environment? Is the school accredited? Answers to these questions will determine the program that best fits your needs. An individual who is balancing numerous priorities or working a demanding schedule might find asynchronous programs, such as the UW MBA Consortium, to be a great fit. Our program provides students opportunities to engage with their courses and network with classmates in a flexible format to meet weekly course deadlines.
Search for potential options
Now that you have defined your “why” statements and needs, you’re ready to begin your search. Using your favorite search engine, you can start broadly (“best online MBA programs”) or consider your needs and try to narrow things down early. If the cost, class sizes, diversity of the students and/or faculty, or the time it takes to get a degree are important to you, then you will want to search using these keywords. For example, if you are seeking an affordable program that prioritizes small class sizes, you would find that the UW MBA Consortium Program caps its class size at 30 and has a price point that is among the lowest of top-ranked schools.
When you search, you will encounter ranking lists. These can be helpful in analyzing programs from several perspectives. But make sure you review the methodology used to create the lists. A more detailed methodology that analyzes a program from multiple angles, such as the one used by Poets&Quants, usually results in a more reliable ranking. Don’t just focus on one ranking list either; see where the programs you’re considering rank on multiple lists. Be sure to visit each school’s website that you’re considering. There you should be able to find basic information about how the program is structured, costs, what classes are offered, and more. Many of the questions you have from your parameters may now be answered but don’t skip the last step.
Connect with potential programs
Once you have what you consider a list of strong potential schools, reach out to each of the programs. You’re making an investment in the program, but the program is also making an investment in you. Communicating early can help clear up more questions you have and will also allow you to evaluate the type of support a program has in place. Programs should provide multiple options for connecting and be responsive to your question. Our goal in the UW MBA Consortium is to respond to inquiries quickly, offer multiple ways students can reach us, and personalize our communication. Our program advisor and other program staff also connect with students directly to answer their questions.
If you are ready to take that next step toward earning your MBA, request access to the Excel file to support your search process. I wish you the best of luck in finding an online MBA program that suits your needs!
I currently serve as the managing director of the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium, where I lead strategic planning and execution, oversee program operations, and supervise professional staff. I have worked with the program since 2005 in a variety of roles including instructional designer and program coordinator. I earned an M.Ed. in learning systems design and development from Mizzou, and enjoy working with faculty, students, and staff to continuously improve the design and delivery of our top-ranked online MBA program.