Making the decision to pursue an advanced degree is a critical choice in one’s professional and personal life. Graduate degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral level have been shown to improve career prospects for individuals, but they come at a cost and are not guaranteed to produce the same results for everybody. Earning a Master of Business Administration is often viewed as an investment in an individual’s business career. Before enrolling in any program though, there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration before applying.
Not All Degrees Are Created Equal!
While an MBA can help you for effective leadership in today’s fast-paced business world, not all of the MBA degree programs out there are the same. When examining any MBA program, make sure the program is accredited by an accrediting body, such as The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes of these programs within a business school meet rigorous educational standards. ACBSP is a leading specialized accreditation association for business education supporting, celebrating, and rewarding teaching excellence. Established in 1988, ACBSP is the only business accrediting organization for all associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degree programs.
A degree in an accredited MBA program can be the differentiator in today’s competitive job market, so be sure to ask questions about accreditation when talking to any college or university.
Do you have what Schools are looking for?
Just like undergraduate institutions, business schools have a variety of admissions requirements and characteristics they are looking for when they sift through the numerous applications they receive for their MBA program. Before even sending in an application it is important to research the institutions under consideration and review their acceptance criteria.
No two MBA programs will look for the same thing in applicants, but there are certain factors that most schools will be looking for. Most business schools will look at an applicant’s GMAT scores, undergraduate GPA, level of campus involvement, and previous work experience when deciding who to admit and who to turn down. If an individual doesn’t meet these requirements it might be best to wait until they do or pursue another advanced degree with different requirements.
Will an MBA Benefit Your Career?
Although MBA programs offer a variety of course work ranging from economics and marketing classes to sociology and organizational management, the true purpose of an MBA program is to prepare students for a career in the field of business. According to Monster.com and Joanne Starr, assistant dean of admissions at the University of California (UC) Irvine's The Paul Merage School of Business, the MBA is a generalist degree that teaches students about the overall functions of business.
Starr goes on to explain that those considering an MBA program should be focused on a career in business and have a desire to learn more about organization and functions within business.
There are Numerous Programs, Choose Wisely
Much like other degree programs that have evolved as technology has evolved, there is no longer one way to earn an MBA. In fact, there are a number of MBA programs available outside of the traditional two year, on-campus option that many are familiar with. Each program offers benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right program is up to the individual.
According to Monster.com, the following are the most common MBA programs offered in the 21st century:
- Weekend MBA: Common among current executives, this program requires one weekend a month on-campus for class and coursework is completed online during the week.
- Online MBA: These programs are offered entirely online. Students attend online chat sessions, connect in discussion forums, and complete coursework over the Internet.
- Part-time MBA: These programs can be completed online or on-campus and typically consist of students attending courses at night. The pace is much slower to accommodate those currently employed in business.
- Accelerated MBA: These programs are intensive 12-month courses that push students through a traditional, full-time MBA program in half the time.
Each of these MBA programs offer different benefits and drawbacks. Some of the, such as the part-time MBA, can take upwards of four years to complete but allow individuals to remain employed. Others, such as the accelerated MBA, take less time but often require full-time attendance.
Before enrolling in any MBA program it is important for individuals to consider the above factors when making their decision about earning an MBA.