When choosing MBA schools there are hundreds of choices? What should be my business school selection criteria and how many schools should I apply to? Once you have chosen a MBA Program Type you can determine a set of schools to target using the following criteria. This criteria should be weighted depending on the particular candidate.
MBA School Selection Criteria
If you are choosing a Part-Time MBA or Executive MBA program, then you will be working while attending school, so your school section will most likely be constrained to a specific region. For example, if you work in Chicago you might choose between Chicago Booth’s Evening MBA and Kellogg’s Part-Time MBA Program.
If you are choosing a Full-Time MBA program and wish to enter Media & Entertainment you might choose schools in New York or Los Angeles which are the meccas for this field.
Reputation can be determined by looking at MBA school rankings, reading publications, asking business professionals, etc. Rankings can be by MBA Program Type, specialization, region, etc. Reputation is important when wishing to enter highly selective fields like private equity, management consulting or investment banking.
Or specialization might be one factor. One way to determine if a school has a strength in a specialization is to see if the program has a center which would conduct research, design curriculums, write cases, arrange for experiential programs, etc. These specializations could be focused on functional areas, industry sectors, business types, etc.
Here are some examples:
- Family Business – Kellogg Center for Family Business
- Human Resources – Wharton Center for Human Resources
- Energy – Energy Institute at Haas
What is the likelihood a program will place you in your desired field and at the right level? Certain schools have better career placement programs. If you wish to go into investment banking following school, know which program have better placement rates such as Columbia, Wharton, and Chicago. You can research this by looking at the career employment reports for each program.
Joint Degree Programs
Do you wish to pursue a joint degree? As discussed in MBA Program Types certain schools offer students the ability to complete combined degrees in multiple management fields. For instance, dual MBA degrees encompass:
MBA/JD, MBA/MS, MBA/MPH, MBA/MPS, MBA/DDS, MBA/MD.
Other schools offer joint MBA degrees with international partners like the Stern-HEC Dual Degree Program.
Environment / Student Body
What type of environment do you prefer? Some schools like Darden are known as boot camps while others like Wharton is known to be more competitive, and Tuck is to be more cooperative and supportive. So know yourself to see where you would best thrive.
How do you best learn? Is the school known as a teaching institution or a research institution? Do you feel learning by case study is superior to lecture and would prefer a school like HBS or Darden that teaches exclusively by case study.
Certain schools have more powerful alumni bases. If you are an international applicant check the strength of that particular alumni group in your country.
Return on Investment
Some schools are more expensive than others while other schools will help you land jobs with higher salaries. Factored together, you can determine which programs offer you a better ROI return on investment. The availability of MBA scholarships, merit aid, grants, etc. could influence your choice.
These are some of the factors you should weigh when determining which schools you will target. You must also do a realistic assessment of your competitiveness as a candidate and choose stretch, target, and safety schools. Very roughly speaking, a stretch school is a school where your GPA and GMAT are below the school’s average; a target school is where these scores are in line with the school’s average; and a safety school is where your GPA and GMAT are above the school’s average. But these academic and test scores only tell part of the story. MBAPrepAdvantage offers a free initial assessment to help you determine your MBA admissions chances by weighing stretch, target, and safety schools along with the strength of your candidacy. Email MBAPrepAdvantage a brief description of your goals in addition to your resume, GPA, and GMAT score at
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