How to Choose a Quality MBA Program

Although it is possible to succeed in the business world without a graduate degree, getting an MBA from an accredited program remains the best way to advance in today’s competitive job market. MBA programs greatly increase a job candidate’s networking capabilities and provide unique opportunities for students to find mentors and get internships that transition into post-graduation careers. MBA programs also provide students with excellent opportunities to learn specialized skills to help them succeed in entrepreneurial ventures or get a job in a niche field, like information technology or international finance.

The single biggest reason people choose to get an MBA degree is earning potential. The salaries of individuals with MBAs can be up to $100,000 higher than those of people without the degree, making the cost of obtaining an MBA degree one of the wisest investments a person can make.

Knowing one wants to pursue an MBA degree is one thing; finding a quality program is another. With hundreds of traditional and online programs to choose from, learning how to choose a quality MBA program Masters Degree can seem like a daunting process. Fortunately, a few simple steps can help to narrow the search and get potential candidates on the right track.

Start at the Top

Every year, news and business publications provide a list of the top MBA programs in the United States. This article in Forbes, for example, provides a list of the top 30 MBA programs.

Prospective MBA candidates should use lists like these to search the websites of the top schools. There they will find

the faculty who teach there.
the areas of specialization offered by the program.
the number of years needed to complete the program.
the internship programs available.

Knowing what the top schools offer is an invaluable way to figure out what one is looking for in a quality MBA program since these programs are the model that every other program in the country aspires toward.

Decide on an Area of Specialization

In a competitive job market, especially if a candidate does not have the means to attend a top program, specialization is an important consideration. Not every program offers the same areas of specialization, so once an individual knows what field they want to focus on, they can narrow down the field of possible programs to those with a good reputation in their projected area of specialization.

Some of the top areas of specialization right now are as follows:

Information Technology
Human Resources
International Business
Supply Chain Management
Health Care Management

Knowing what industry they want to land a job in helps prospective candidates to narrow their focus and choose the school that is going to be most beneficial to them.

Choose the Type of School that Works Best

It used to be that students only had the choice of attending a traditional school, which meant relocating to a new city, finding a place to live, and quitting one’s current job. Now, however, the number of quality online MBA programs available make it easy for students to stay put while earning the degree. This can be especially useful if an individual wants to advance at the company where they are already working.

Students shopping for a good online program should consider factors like overall ranking, peer reputation, faculty credentials, and student support services. As with shopping for a traditional program, start at the top to learn what the most competitive programs have to offer, then search for programs that offer the chance to specialize in the area one wants to pursue.

Don’t Overlook the Basics

Finally, here are some essentials a candidate needs to know before making their decision:

1. The school must be accredited. To attend a program that lacks proper accreditation can be to throw away good money: No serious company will consider hiring an employee who comes from a program without it.

2. The school must have a good peer reputation. MBA programs, even more than other graduate programs, exist as networking pools where every alumnus is a potential boss or colleague down the road. Choosing a school where the alumni and faculty are well-connected to the industries one wants to pursue is a must when picking a quality MBA program.

3. The school will be expensive. In MBA programs, a candidate gets what they pay for; the best schools are an investment. Since the salary one earns after graduating from a top school allows individuals to pay back their loans in just a few years, one should always choose the most prestigious program one can get into rather than the one that is the most cost effective.

4. The program should have a good academic reputation. Average GMAT scores, class size, internship programs, percentage of graduates placing jobs right after graduation — these are just some of the factors one should take into consideration when choosing a quality program.

Getting an MBA degree is an investment in one’s future career, and it can be the smartest investment a person entering the business world will ever make. Choosing the highest quality MBA program one can be accepted into is a proven way to ensure success.