The Ingredients of a Winning MBA Resume

Consider This Factor When Choosing Business Schools

While most B-schools teach similar content in their MBA programs, how they teach that content may differ. Whether through case studies or experiential learning, instructional styles vary quite differently from school-to-school. Experts say it’s wise for applicants to consider a business school’s instructional style prior to sending in an application.

US News recently highlighted a few things that applicants should focus on when it comes to instructional styles and MBA programs.


Fit is one of the most important factors when considering an MBA program. Some experts say that fit is even more important than rankings and prestige.

“If you seek a business school environment where you’ll truly thrive, focus on fit over ranking and brand,” Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, says. “While the latter two are important, if you don’t feel at home from the moment you set foot on campus, you won’t get the most out of the MBA experience.”

Part of determining your fit is understanding how a business school teaches its students—and how you can best learn.

“If you really like hands-on (learning) and you like to work in teams, you don’t want to go to a school where there’s no classes that do that or just one class does that,” Caryn Beck-Dudley, president and CEO of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, says. “On the other hand, if that’s not a skill you are interested in then you might want to choose someplace else.”


B-schools vary in how they teach their MBA content. At Harvard Business School, for example, the case method is central to how students learn.

HBS “would be an exception to that, where everybody teaches the case method,” Beck-Dudley says. “But in most schools, individual faculty teach the style they want to teach – the way they think the students learn. Some professors use interesting simulations where you practice being like a businessperson. You make decisions kind of like gaming, but you can apply the concepts.”

Frank Rothaermel, a professor in the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology, describes his teaching style as less lecturing and more discussion.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve moved to a flipped classroom where I require the basics to be done at home and the students are ready to dive into the content when they get to class,” Rothaermel says. “I focus not on what to think but how to think. I rarely ever reveal what I think.”

At the end of the day, choosing the right B-school comes down to your fit within that business school’s culture.

“You want to be in a school you feel comfortable in, the teaching methods are there and the coursework matches what you want,” Beck-Dudley says. “Students should look at themselves, select a program and do a deeper dive on their research about what that school offers. Know what their placement rates are, what their employment rates are, what type of alumni networking they have available so that students get to meet other people in their area. That’s very important in business.”

Sources: US News, Stacy Blackman Consulting

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