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3 Key Considerations for Business School Prospects

Deciding whether to pursue an MBA involves careful consideration of various factors, including career aspirations, financial implications, and time commitment.

US News recently delved into the MBA decision-making process, offering insights from experts and highlighting key considerations for prospective MBA candidates.

TIME COMMITMENT

Time commitment for an MBA can vary depending on what type of program you’re in. A full-time MBA program typically takes two years, with accelerated programs taking one year.

More flexible options include executive and part-time MBA programs, which are designed for professionals working full-time. These programs typically vary in time commitment depending on how many credits you take each semester.

Sue Oldham, associate dean of MBA operations at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, says prospective applicants should evaluate an MBA based on their current life commitments.

“Are you at a place in your life where you can step out of the workforce for two years (for a full-time MBA) and invest in yourself like that?” she says. “I think that’s why part-time MBA programs are a much better option for people that are like, ‘Listen, I can’t take two years off. I’ve got to work. I’ve got a family. I’ve got a mortgage.'”

SCHOOL OFFERINGS

Business school is all about fit—with goals, program offerings, and overall culture. If you’re thinking about an MBA, consider your educational and professional goals and how they align with a B-school’s location, class size, and academic tracks.

“Unless you are definitely bound and determined and headed toward one of the very few slots available at the Ivys, the world is at your disposal for what you need and want,” Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform, says.

Additionally, it can be helpful to visit a B-school to get a feel for the overall culture.

“Spend some time getting to know the students, the alumni and the staff at the various schools, because I always think culture really matters and each school has its own unique culture,” Oldham says. “You have to figure out what that school’s culture is and say, ‘Does this mesh with who I am, the way I learn and the way I want to work?'”

RETURN ON INVESTMENT

An MBA isn’t cheap. A degree from a top business school can cost upwards of $200,000. However, MBA grads also have the highest median earning potential in the U.S. among business school graduates with an estimated median starting salary of $125,000 in 2023.

When deciding on business school, always consider the cost of the degree and your return on investment. You can do this by calculating the salary-to-debt ratio. Your return on investment is determined by dividing the average salary and signing bonus of recent graduates by the average student debt incurred by borrowers.

The question is, “Do you see the degree helping to advance your salary, your work experiences and your opportunities to make a difference, in the sense of being able to pay that (debt) down so that’s not some overwhelming burden?” Sean Schrader, an MBA student in his final year at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business and president of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, says.

Sources: US News, P&Q, GMAC

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