Digital art of people on stack of books, near letters MBA, with calculator

5 Quick Tips to Help You Find Great MBA Programs

An MBA is a huge investment of money and time, so you want to find a program that best supports your career goals. Here are quick tips to help you choose.

Going to business school for your MBA will help you develop a strong foundation of business knowledge so you can understand how organizations work while forging a path of career advancement for yourself. Of course, it's a huge investment of both money and time, so you want to be sure that you choose a college that best supports your career goals. When searching for the right Business school for your degree goals, start with some research about yourself. Think about your expectations, current lifestyle, and responsibilities: How will school fit into that picture? Can you attend full-time, or will you need a more flexible solution such as part-time, weekend, or online classes? Are you willing to travel or relocate for a specific school? How much loan debt can you realistically take on?  Once you have a general idea of the size and scope of your ideal MBA program, you can begin narrowing down your list of potential schools. Here are some tips on doing just that.

1. Make a list and check it twice

Go online and start your search simply by looking for lists of reputable business schools and/or MBA programs. National publications can be a good place to start, but you should also see if schools nearby you might have the kind of program you’re seeking, and you can look for more local information. If you had a good experience at your undergraduate institution, you should see if the school offers graduate programs as well because applying to a school you're familiar with may make it a lot easier to get in. 

2. Explore program specializations

Not every MBA is created equal, and many programs offer different tracks of specialization. Consider whether or not you want to specialize in international business, eCommerce, marketing, finance, accounting, management, or something completely different. When you've decided which path might be right for you, see which schools on your list have those course offerings. These are likely to become your top contenders when narrowing down your list to the programs you'll apply to. 

Related: A Handy Guide to the Different Types of MBA Programs

3. Ask businesspeople what they think

If you already work for a company, look into or ask around about where the executive team studied for their MBAs—a personal recommendation is usually a trustworthy source for a high-quality program; this includes if you know anyone in your personal life who has gone for an MBA, ask about their alma mater to get a sense of what the program is like. If there are a few companies that you aspire to work for, look through the LinkedIn profiles of their execs to see which business schools they attended, working toward a program that might get their attention.

4. Consider your qualifications

There are some very selective MBA programs out there, so make sure you have the qualifications to gain acceptance to whichever ones you apply to. If you're still in your undergrad program, you need to keep your grades up, as most programs require you to have a certain GPA as an undergraduate. You’ll likely have to take the GMAT or GRE in addition to many business schools requiring additional materials such as essays, work samples, and/or letters of reference too.

5. Go straight to the source

If you have a handful of business schools you’re interested in, reach out directly to program departments for each school with questions and concerns. Nearly every college or university is on social media, and most would be happy to put you in touch with a current student to get the scoop on what the program is like. You can also email specific questions to the admission or financial aid office, and request a campus visit to see what the vibe is in person (college tours aren't only for undergrads!).

Related: Return on Investment: How to Pick the Best MBA for Your Career

The right business college can open a lot of doors and take your career to new heights, so it's pertinent to choose wisely. Take your time making this big decision and do your research. There are a lot of business specializations you can pursue and they won't all lead to the same place. Take a look at your career goals and lead with your gut to find the right program for you. 

Many students dream of doing business in a major metropolis after grad school—consider some Great Colleges and Universities for Business in the Northeast to find places where big deals are being made right off campus! 

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