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How to select MBA Program

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular degrees available today.

Why to Select MBA Program?
As the world moves to an increasingly corporate and service based economy, companies have an ever growing need for business savvy and certain sets of technical skills. And an MBA degree holder is likely to have those skills and savvy.

Previous MBA Student Data
In 1965, fewer than 10,000 MBA's were granted to U.S. students. In 1977, the number rose to 48,000 and in 1998, it was 94,000. Even more interesting, some 2/3 of MBA degrees are awarded not to full-time students, but to part-time or distance students, often subsidized by their employers. These are people looking to move up at their jobs, move to a more rewarding career or even start their own businesses. According to a survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, about 20% of the people who get MBA's are planning to go into business for themselves.

Many are older, and about 30% of mba graduates have families. In distance-learning programs, that ratio jumps even higher, because a distance-learning MBA allows students to study at their own pace, without interrupting work or family life.

Choosing the Right MBA for You

There's a world of MBA Programs and other useful business-related programs out there. Which one is right for you? There are absolutely no right or wrong answers here. Each person is different, and each person's needs, both present and predictable future ones, are different. The following list gives eleven things you may wish to consider in deciding which programs to pursue. After each item, we've summarized the decision you need to make on that item. Remember, the more thought you put into this now, the better a match that MBA program will be for you.

Eleven Important Factors

Step 1: Specialized vs. General

There are a number of courses that appear, in one form or another, in just about every MBA degree program on earth: finance, economics, marketing, strategic planning, and so on. But beyond those, there are literally 100's of different subjects that have been included in MBA programs, either as stand-alone courses, or as part of a specialized MBA program, where just about every course has a certain slant: not just marketing, but marketing for the automotive industry, not just organizational behavior, but organizational behavior for the military; not just accounting, but accounting for the medical profession and many more.

Many people are not only content with a MBA, they prefer to have a degree without any specialization. They argue that if they were to change careers, their degree would stand them in good stead regardless of their new chosen field. Others feel that a specialized MBA—say, in church management, or in healthcare administration, or banking, or international trade and finance, will be a better ticket to jobs in those professions.

Step 2: Theoretical vs. Practical

  • How important is it to understand technical theories that may drive the commodities market up or down?
  • What do we know about the causes and aftermath of major economic recessions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?
  • Can sophisticated economic modeling help a high-tech company's long-term strategic planning?
  • Is it more important to learn how to write a business plan in short order, or to spend a year understanding the underlying nature of business plans and the ways in which corporate behaviors are shaped by them?
These differing approaches are one of the main reasons that some MBA programs require a good deal of high-level mathematics, including advanced calculus, while others are content to offer nothing beyond elementary algebra and beginning statistics.

Note: Many of the more practical programs (and some of the others) require internships, in which students work for real-world companies.

Do you want a theoretical or a practical education? (Of course, many programs provide both, but there is usually a one way or the other). If you just want to get the information and apply it quickly to your career, practical may be the way to go. If you're looking to be a "big picture person," maybe even to teach or to advance to a doctoral level, theoretical may be your best option. Weigh the balance of these 2 approaches and decide if the school has what you need.

Cost: Lower Cost vs. Higher Cost

There is not a whole lot of correlation between the cost of an education and its quality. The total cost of an MBA can range from US$5,000 to well over $100,000 (when you take into account tuition, fees, housing, travel, and, most significantly for the non-distance-learning ones, time lost from your job). Many students can get funding in the form of employer subsidies, student loans, or grants. But it is important not to fall into the trap of thinking that an MBA that costs under $10,000 must have something wrong with it. Research the program, see if it offers what you need, and then decide if you can afford it.

University Type Annual Tuition Fees (in $)
Approx. in 2006
Private School (max. Cost) $ 30,000
Private School (max. Cost) $ 15,000
State School (max. Cost) $ 20,000
State School (max. Cost) $ 10,000

Living Expenses (Approx. in 2006)

The approximate annual living expenses during the MBA program is about $12,000, which includes accommodation as well as other daily expenses. However, it depends on your lifestyles

Rent $ 400 per month (you can live alone or share an apartment with 6 people in NY)
Groceries $ 150 per month
Utilities $ 150 per month
Mobile $ 100 per month  (if careful with international calls)
Sundry $ 200 per month

So, about $1000 per month is a good estimation.  Mostly people can survive between $700-$1000 a month. The key here is to share apartments/houses so that you save on the utilities, fixed charge portion of phone and to some extent on groceries.

Note : This is expected cost per year, please confirm before final calculation by contacting School/University & other Authorities

Worldview: National vs. International

Some MBA schools are in business to train people to work in the country where the school is located, or at least in that region of the world. Others pay special intention to the growing globalization of the economy, and the increasing numbers of business people who may work in two or three or more countries in the course of their career.

These differences are often reflected in the kinds of courses offered, and the approach taken in the courses. As one simple example, there are certain basic accounting principles that are the same anywhere in the world. And yet there are some significant differences in generally accepted accounting principles as they are practiced in the U.S. versus in Japan, or Russia, or Saudi Arabia. If a student is considering an MBA in order to be a better manager of a lumberyard in Michigan, then it may not matter to him or her that human resource practices are dramatically different in China than they are in the U.S. But if that person gets involved in buying or selling products in Asia, or needs to understand NAFTA, or needs to remit or deposit foreign currencies, then he or she could benefit from an international approach.

Reputation: Big vs. Modest

There are a small number of schools that are world-famous, either as entire universities (for instance, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford), or especially as MBA-granting business schools (for instance Wharton, Chicago, Henley).

These schools, and others like them, regularly appear on the "ten best" or "25 best" or "world's best Online Schools" lists published annually by magazines such as BusinessWeek, U.S. News and World Report, Canadian Business, and The Economist. These "best" lists vary slightly from year to year—programs change and, probably more importantly, magazines need to tell at least a somewhat new story each year. But the great majority of good, decent, usable MBA programs, surely more than 90% of those with recognized accreditation, never make any lists at all. Check the list of Accredited MBA College & Universities.

Some people choose a school because of its reputation. They believe it will help them in the job-finding or internal promotion process, and they may be right. If you were a recruiter for your company, which would you choose? There is no simple answer to this question. It is simply a factor to keep in mind during the school selection process.

Inter activeness: Low vs. High

There are distance MBA programs in which the degree can be earned online without ever talking to another human being, attend class-rooms, read the textbooks, take the exams, and earn the degree. There are others in which each student is expected to be either on-line or on the phone or at meetings of local cohort groups for quite a few hours each week.

Similarly, there are people who prefer working on their own, perhaps with the option of being able to ask a question of a faculty if the need arises. And there are others who thrive on the group process, sharing ideas, gaining insights from others, and regularly getting a sense of how well they are doing.

The simple advice here is that if this matter is important, then it is wise to choose a program with a model that matches your preferred style.

You need to decide:
  1. How much supervision do you want or need,
  2. How much interaction with students and professors, and so forth
  3. Do you want to set your own pace or have regularly scheduled on-line meetings?
Exams: Many, Few, or None

Since there are distance MBA programs with a variety of academic models, it is often wise to choose one that matches your preferences with regard to exams.
  1. European degree programs :- are often based largely or entirely on examinations, and that is also the case with many MBA's, where the only requirement is passing a series of course exams.
  2. American Master's programs :- are often graded based on an array of demonstrations of ability, including writing term papers, interaction with faculty and other students, quizzes, and exams. Since some schools put a lot less weight on exams than others, this could be a factor when shopping around for the ideal program.
Thesis or Major Paper: Yes or No

Master's programs of all kinds traditionally require a major paper, called a thesis in America and a dissertation in Britain, as a means of demonstrating that you have a certain level of mastery of the field. But there are programs that offer a choice, such as 10 courses plus a thesis or 13 courses without a thesis. Some allow some sort of other major project, such as implementing and testing systems at the workplace. And there are those that do not offer a thesis option. Some students feel that a thesis is not only a good opportunity to do significant work in one's field, but also the thesis itself can make a good addition to one's CV or portfolio of career experiences. Others, especially those with less experience doing a single major project, may feel that a wider array of course work is just as satisfactory.

Degree Title: MBA vs. M.A. or M.S. or Others

Not all schools award the MBA degree, while others offer both MBA's and other Master's degrees in business subjects, such as an M.A. or M.S. in business administration, or business studies, or just business. This might be just fine, or it might even be better than an MBA for your purposes, depending on what your career goals are and how you plan to use your degree.

Time Involved: 8 or 9 Months to 3 or More Years

Most academic degree programs have a pretty standardized length. A Bachelor's degree in the U.S. will require about 120 semester hours, which typically will take 4 years to earn. An American Master's degree in most fields is from 30 to 36 semester units in length.

The MBA alone seems extremely variable in this regard. Many American MBA's take 2 academic years (16 to 20 months), there are some that require a 18 months, and some as little as 1 year. Many distance MBA programs offer part-time options, allowing you to stretch the course of study out so as not to conflict with work and family—or, conversely, to do many courses at once, so as to finish more quickly.


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