What to Consider When Choosing an MBA Program

A healthy dose of self-reflection, and knowing the answer when asked why you want to get an MBA, are two key components to deciding which business school programs make the most sense for you. I recently spoke with the Financial Times‘s Charlotte Clarke to offer my thoughts on what to consider when selecting an MBA program, and I’d like to share some of the article’s key points here as well.

For many people, a first major consideration is whether to pursue a general or specialized MBA. Personally, I feel that a general MBA prepares you better to be a business leader, because running a business involves an understanding of all aspects of the business. It also allows networking and an exchange of ideas with all different types of people with different backgrounds and goals.

No degree can make you 100 percent recession-proof, but given the uncertainties of the global economy, having the ability to shift gears and adapt within a variety of fields puts you in a better position to find employment upon graduation.

While some recruiters may wonder whether applicants with a joint degree, such as the JD/MBA or the MD/MBA, have done enough self-reflection regarding their professional goals,  I believe that the additional education does not necessarily hurt if you are unsure of your career plans and interests and have the time and money.

When it comes to deciding between one and two-year programs, it really is a matter of deciding what’s important to you. If time and money are tight, a one-year program is a brilliant solution. However, for many career changers, the two-year program is a better option as it allows for the summer internship and more introspection and education in general.

As I say in the Financial Times, an MBA is a great, general degree that can prepare you for many paths. However, it is not right for everyone. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people applying for an MBA when their career goals are not a match for that type of graduate program. There are definitely careers that will benefit from a masters degree, as opposed to an MBA. The trick is honest self-assessment in order to align your goals with the best possible program.

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