What is the ideal time to get an MBA?
- When you have a firm sense of your career direction (industry/function of interest)
- When you feel you have the knowledge and confidence to contribute to the classroom environment (discussion/group work) and are excited by the business school curriculum
- When you have identified that the skill set you will acquire with an MBA is what you need to reach your career objectives. Many MBA programs encourage applicants to have several years of work experience before going to business school. However, some top programs will admit applicants coming directly from university. The average age of MBA matriculates is approximately 26.
How much does an MBA cost?
- If you attend a full-time MBA program at a private institution, tuition alone can cost between $40-60K per year. Costs associated with MBA programs vary greatly from school to school, especially between public and private institutions.
- Some schools estimate a modest student budget (including tuition) to be almost $80K per year, including apartment living; however it may be difficult to live on a budget of $80K per year given the additional costs of school events and opportunities to travel with your classmates.
- There are many types of scholarships offered to MBA students (e.g., women, minorities, international students, veterans, and employees). The financial aid offices of business schools will help you determine what funding might be available to you. Your employer may offer interest-free loans with the stipulation that you work for them post-MBA for a specified number of years, or your employer may reimburse you on a course-by-course basis.
- It is important to weigh the benefits of earning an MBA and the long-term career opportunities the MBA can provide with the more immediate financial burden of tuition and living expenses.
To Which MBA Program Should I Apply?
While concepts like leadership and innovation are prevalent in all business school curricula, how classes are offered and how they are taught greatly differ from school to school. Some schools require the same first year curriculum for all students, while others allow students to place out of courses or select their own courses entirely.
Make sure you research the methodologies used to teach classes. Some MBA programs use the case study method and others a more hands on approach. It's important to determine which program methodology is most appropriate for your individual learning style and preferences.
Consider the following in looking at the class profile: class size (small, close knit or large, lecture-style), diversity, international perspectives and industries represented.
Extra-curriculars and clubs
Check out non-credit activities. Research how students spend their time outside the academic environment.
What draws you to the school? Speak to students, visit classes, etc.
- Full-time vs. part-time
- Joint / dual degrees, such as MD/MBA, JD/MBA, MS Bioengineering/MBA, or even MA Education/MBA
- Executive Programs (for seasoned managers)
- Specialized Masters in "Business" areas, such as accounting, technology, hospital administration, etc.
- For undergraduates, some special programs exist such as the 2+2 Program at Harvard Business School. Apply at the end of your junior year or anytime during your senior year. Acceptance into the 2 + 2 Program is guaranteed acceptance into the Business School.
What are possible alternatives to MBA Programs?
Leadership/management rotation programs within companies
Some big companies have been placing rising stars into their own Commercial Leadership Programs rather than encouraging them to get MBAs, making these kinds of blue chip internal education programs competitive with a formal MBA degree. In addition, you can gain work experience without paying for tuition.
CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
If you are sure you want to be in finance, many firms strongly prefer the CFA to the MBA. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is an international professional certification offered by the CFA Institute (formerly AIMR) to financial analysts who complete a series of three examinations. To become a CFA, charter holder candidates must pass each of three six-hour exams, possess a bachelor's degree (or equivalent, as assessed by the CFA Institute) and have 48 months of qualified, professional work experience.