A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree marks a turning point in your career. But with so many top-level programs to choose from, it can be difficult to choose the right MBA course for your needs. Things get even more confusing when you want to apply overseas.
While the process can be overwhelming, it’s worth it. Through meticulous research, you can assess whether it’s fruitful to relocate for work if it’s important to base your college decision on its reputation or course work, and most importantly, whether getting an MBA is a good decision.
Even if you’re dead set on a specific college, it still pays to look into other options, just in case. Ask yourself: if my current circumstances change, will I still be able to attend this school?
In the end, you’ll want to make a choice that aligns with your career goals. This article will take you through the steps of finding the most suitable business school and the perfect MBA.
How to Start an MBA Course at Your Dream College
When conducting research on the best MBA courses and colleges, start with the basics. Once you know why you want to pursue an MBA, you can apply that knowledge to the other steps.
Step 1: Why do you want a Master’s in Business Administration?
If you’ve made it this far, then you’re probably very excited to become MBA alumni. Or, you might be pursuing a master’s degree because someone else told you it was a good idea.
Going through 4 or more years of college is hard enough, but earning a master’s will be much harder, despite the path being shorter. You need to stay motivated and productive throughout the program, or there’s a chance you’ll drop out, miss class, or graduate with a low GPA.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, ask yourself why getting a master’s is important to you. If you’re having a hard time pinpointing a reason, answer the following questions before going to step 2:
Are you looking for a minor or a complete career change?
Do you want to change your job function or industry?
Do you want to break through the Glass Ceiling?
Are you looking to live or start a business in another country?
Is the career/life you’re pursuing worth the cost of the degree?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, we recommend signing up for an MBA course. If all of your answers are “no,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want an MBA. It could mean you can’t think of a good reason right now, so give yourself time to think it over.
To prepare yourself for the next sections, check out a few MBA admissions consulting options online. These resources can help you put your best foot forward on your admissions paperwork.
Step 2: Do you meet the requirements to sign up for an MBA course?
The answer to this question seems obvious: you need a business degree to get an MBA. But that isn’t necessarily true. An Earnest data report states that students can still enter an MBA program with an Economics, Humanities, Engineering, Poli Sci, or Communications degree.
MBA programs offer practical career preparation, focusing on skills rather than theory. Thus, you only need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to apply for an MBA degree.
With that said, schools will outline separate requirements for non-business applications. You may need post-baccalaureate or prerequisite coursework or take a skilled assessment. If you’re worried about passing the application process, speak to a college faculty member for advice.
It’s important to note that business education, along with its supplementary prerequisites, like accounting, economics, finance, and statistics, will give you a strong foundation for an MBA.
Step 3: What skills do you want to focus on improving?
Write a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Of these strengths and weaknesses, what do you want to improve on? Not every flaw has to be accounted for, and some of your strengths may not be applicable to your chosen career path. Still, your skills will determine the path you’ll take.
An MBA course will help you build stronger finance, management, and entrepreneurial skills. But, some courses will place more focus on one of the three or add in something extra.
For example, a specialized MBA program may lead to opportunities in a niche, but well-paying industries, such as healthcare or hospitality. If your core management skills are better suited to a specific industry, look for courses that are geared toward them. Or, consider taking a minor.
On the other hand, a general MBA program will place you in a managerial or senior role in most industries. The beauty of this degree is it can be as specific or varied as you want it to be.
Step 4: Where do you want to work (long and short-term)?
A general MBA is applicable to most industries in multiple countries, but the same can’t be said about a specialized MBA. If you want to work in Tokyo, Paris, London, New York, or Melbourne, start thinking about what skills are in high demand and whether you want to stay long-term.
Your choice of school will also impact your ability to migrate. Some employers outside of the US won’t accept US degrees, even if the country itself has no problem with foreign accreditation. That won’t be a problem if you plan to live in the United States, but it’s something to think about.
Step 5: Do you want to go to school full-time or part-time?
A full-time MBA is the ideal choice because you can get fully immersed in your course. An intensive learning environment will upgrade your business skills faster, especially if you have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people. But part-time programs can be just as good.
If you don’t have the time to commit to a full-time course load, don’t let that stop you. A part-time course is a perfect option for people who want to (or need to) work while attending school.
A part-time course can be just as demanding as full-time because you’re juggling two things (or more) at once. Consider if you have enough free time to study for your chosen MBA course.
Step 6: Do you want to study at a local or an international school?
Choosing between a local or international school can be challenging, depending on your money situation or geographical location. The United States has plenty of high-ranking college options, but other countries may offer the same education quality (plus residency) at a lower price.
When considering local or international schools, it’s important to keep in mind that Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) offers a unique blend of academic excellence and diverse opportunities for both local and international students. However, please be aware that NDNU, like many institutions, was affected by the pandemic. So, is NDNU closed? To get the most up-to-date information on NDNU’s current status, please visit their official website.
However, if you’re aiming for top programs, the choice of location will only matter if the qualities of your chosen school meet your criteria. If you want an international alum network, you can only pick schools with that network. In these cases, it’s better to pick a module MBA program.
If you don’t want to leave home or you’re more interested in local business topics, then a local MBA course will work just fine. In these cases, a school’s reputation may matter more to you.
Cost no doubt plays a role in your selection. If you want to go to a school despite its price and you’re currently working, ask if your employer would be willing to offer student loan repayment assistance. If that option isn’t available, look into low-interest student loans or personal loans.
Step 7: How long will it take to get a return on investment (ROI)?
Students gearing up for their MBA have already spent $30,000 to $90,000 on their education, but a master’s degree will tack on an extra $30,000 to $120,000. Since you need a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a master’s, you’ve already invested $60,000 to $210,000 into an MBA.
Still, many graduates would spend twice their tuition if they were guaranteed a high-paying job. Fortunately, the starting salary for an MBA graduate can be as high as $192,095 per year.
However, some schools will make it more likely that you’ll get a high-paying job right out of college. Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business graduates can earn $159,544, while Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business graduates can earn $119,000 per year.
Step 8: Do you or should you care about college rankings?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. Even Stanford University graduates can earn as low as $35,568 per year if the job market is tight or they don’t know how to market themselves. With that said, employers still prefer to hire graduates from Ivy League schools.
That doesn’t mean you won’t get a high-paying job with a non-Ivy League MBA course. In fact, US employers are starting to care less about college rankings or e degrees in general. But if going to a high-ranking college matters to you, make sure they consistently rank in the top 20.
Step 9: Do you have all the information you need to make a selection?
So you’ve compared multiple schools, locations, and programs, but you’re still unable to make a selection. Being choosy isn’t a bad thing, but you may need some direction to make a final decision. At this step, start contacting schools and ask for online handouts or brochures.
If possible, check out the school in person. A visit to the campus will enable you to see the school facilities firsthand and get a better feel of the learning environment. Speak to faculty members, alums, and staff at the career department and ask them why they like their school.
When all else fails, make an appointment over the phone or with video conferencing software. A simple phone call can clear up any reservations that prevent you from making a choice.
Step 10: Are you ready to start the application process?
Each school has its own MBA admissions requirements, but nearly all schools expect you to fill out an application. You’ll need to know how to answer a series of personal questions without setting off any alarm bells. This can be a challenge if you’re unfamiliar with the process.
Any MBA course is in your grasp if you speak to an MBA admissions counselor. Considering you only have one chance to make a good impression, it would be silly not to seek out their advice. While a counselor can’t guarantee acceptance, they can improve your chances.