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Planning Your StudiesHow to Choose an MBA Program: 9 Things to Consider

How to Choose an MBA Program: 9 Things to Consider

Choosing the right MBA program starts with knowing your goals well, especially your career objectives.

Take time to think about where you see yourself professionally and set clear long-term goals. This will help you find an MBA program that sets you up for success.

Degree Path

MBA programs offer many options to match various needs. Options like full-time, part-time, in-person, and online formats make an MBA accessible for working adults or those with busy schedules.

Regarding coursework, there are two main approaches:

  • One involves foundational classes in the first year and elective courses in the second year, customized to different goals.
  • The other approach offers flexibility right from the start.

Core classes in a mandatory curriculum give students a grasp of essential business principles. These core courses are generally consistent across different schools.

Admission Requirements

The requirements for MBA applications differ between programs, but there are common requirements that many programs share.

  • Bachelor’s Degree: You need a bachelor’s degree to enroll in an MBA program in the United States. Universities in the US have different percentage requirements for admission.
  • Work Experience: Two to five years of work experience is common among MBA applicants.
  • Entrance Exam Scores: Good scores in exams like GMAT or GRE are important for MBA admission.
  • Resume: Your CV should reflect the values and culture of the business school you’re applying.
  • Recommendation Letters: US-based MBA programs typically require at least 2 recommendation letters.
  • Essays: Essays are a common requirement for MBA programs. They provide insight into your personality, interests, and career goals.
  • Proof of English: International students whose first language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency when applying to MBA programs in the United States.
  • Interview: The interview is the final step in the MBA admission process, where candidates are assessed for their fit with the program.

Accreditation and Ranking

Look for programs that are accredited by accrediting bodies, such as AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs), and IACBE (International Accreditation Council for Business Education). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high academic standards and is recognized globally by employers.

Rankings provide a general idea of a program’s reputation, but it’s essential to consider them in context. Look at rankings from trusted sources like U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times, QS World University Rankings, or Bloomberg Businessweek. However, rather than relying only on rankings, consider factors like program specialization, faculty expertise, alumni network, and career prospects.


Many students face a major debate when deciding between a one-year and two-year MBA program.

  • A two-year MBA program offers the advantage of learning at a comfortable pace. It gives you time to engage in activities like case competitions, networking events, seminars, and other learning experiences.
  • A one-year MBA program is focused and moves quickly. Regardless of the business school you choose, there’s limited time for extracurricular activities.

So, which one? In a two-year program, you have at least a year before selecting your electives, allowing you to better understand the syllabus and elective options. On the other hand, one-year MBA programs require you to choose electives within a single semester. Pretty much up to you! Just don’t forget to take this into consideration when you’re making your decision.


The campus environment of an MBA program influences your overall experience. Choose whether you prefer studying in a city or a quieter town, and research factors like cost of living, job opportunities, and networking possibilities with alumni.

Additionally, explore the campus culture and available resources such as student clubs and extracurricular options. Consider visiting the campus to take a look at the atmosphere and decide if you like it.

Many students agree with this. This Redditor said it’s crucial to check out the place yourself. They mentioned visiting the areas, like Cornell’s rural spot in NY or the neighborhood of Yale, can make a big difference in how you feel about it—making you either fall in love with it or realize it’s not for you.

Tuition Fees

The cost of MBA tuition depends on the school’s reputation, location, and program format. Generally, tuition fees in the United States range from $50,000 to over $100,000 for the entire program. Top-ranked schools have higher fees, possibly exceeding $150,000.

After you’ve figured out the costs, take a look at the financial aid options offered by the institution. Most schools have a team ready to help students fund their education. Some programs have scholarships based on merit or specific to the program.

ROI (Return on Investment)

ROI, or Return on Investment, refers to the benefits you’ll gain from the program compared to the costs incurred, including tuition fees, living expenses, and potential income forgone during the study period.

To calculate ROI, you can compare the expected salary increase or career advancement opportunities post-MBA with the total cost of the program. A higher ROI indicates that the MBA program is likely to provide long-term value in terms of career growth.

Job Prospects

According to U.S. News, experts report that the job market for MBA graduates continues to be strong. In 2022, the median starting salary for MBA hires was $115,000.

Here’s a list of average salaries across different roles to get an idea:

Job Title Average Salary (Per Year)
Business Development Manager $147,485
Financial Analyst $108,516
Marketing Manager $152,071
Operations Manager $131,548
Management Consultant $123,241
Product Manager $123,161
HR Manager $138,425
Supply Chain Manager $128,103
Project Manager $126,238

*Source: Salary Expert

Other Perspectives

You probably want to know what other students have to say. Here are some not-so-common points of view to consider when choosing your MBA program:

  • Start with the companies you want to work for. This Reddit user thinks differently about choosing an MBA program. They say you should first figure out which jobs or companies you want after graduation, then see which MBA schools they hire from. For big companies, there are usually just a few schools, and that’s how you can decide which ones to consider. This is backed by another Redditor, who says you can check which schools align with your career goals by examining class profiles, job placements, and LinkedIn.
  • Think about what kind of environment you want in your MBA program. The same Redditor also highlights another aspect to consider: the environment of the MBA program. Do you prefer a big school with a diverse crowd and various experiences, or would you rather be in a smaller setting where you can stand out and get to know everyone personally?
  • This person recommends considering the business school’s building. They suggest evaluating how modern and nice it is, its central location on campus, whether its layout encourages casual interactions, and whether there’s easy access to food and snacks between classes. They mention that schools like Kellogg, Tepper, Yale SOM, Columbia, and UT Austin boast modern, upscale buildings. However, they note that Wharton, with its limited natural light, and MIT Sloan, which doesn’t quite live up to the main university’s reputation, fall short in some areas.
  • A Redditor advises trusting your instincts when choosing a school. They mention that “fit” is about how the school feels to you, either from visiting or through online interactions. They point out that people sometimes pay too much attention to data and ignore their gut feelings.

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