The combination of factors that go into choosing an MBA program varies with the applicant, but there’s one word that’s high on just about everybody’s list: quality.
In fact, school quality is consistently ranked the most important criterion in selecting a business school in the Graduate Management Admission Council’s mba.com Prospective Students Survey.
Of course, it’s one thing to know that quality is important, but it’s another to define it. How do you know if a school you’re considering is high quality? Besides asking the “what” questions concerning program type, curriculum, and career services, you’ll want to consider those “how well” questions that will help you get a handle on school quality. Here are some specific things to look for:
- Faculty. School quality and faculty quality are closely connected, and not surprisingly, the survey found faculty quality was rated the most important specific criterion that potential students looked at. Ask the school whether its faculty is known for academic research, teaching quality, accessibility to students, or a combination. Find out how active its faculty members are in professional associations and in the corporate world, and how those connections might enrich your experiences as a student. You should also consider student-to-faculty ratios and how much access you will have to professors.
- Students. Alumni often say they learned as much from their business school peers as they did from their professors, and they value the peer networks they developed in business school long after they earned their degrees. Consider a school’s admission requirements, such as work experience and academic requirements, including undergraduate GPA and GMAT scores. A school’s academic profile will also tell you more about its incoming class: how much and what type of work experience its students have, and what range of academic credentials they have.
- Accreditation. Finally, ask about accreditation, a sign that the school has undergone a formal evaluation process by an outside body for quality assurance. In many countries, governments accredit schools, but in the US, accreditation is done by private associations. In addition, organizations such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, the European Foundation for Management Development, and the Association of MBAs accredit schools internationally.
The Graduate Management Admission Council is an organization of leading business schools that administers the Graduate Management Admission Test, used in admissions decisions by more than 6,000 programs at approximately 2,100 business schools worldwide. For more information on graduate business school, go to mba.com [http://www.mba.com/mba].