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How to choose your MBA programme
Karan Gupta
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July 09, 2007

Sandeep Shah will pursue his MBA at the University of Chicago.

'Teamwork, leadership and analytical abilities are what I will gain from the University of Chicago. With 35% international students, my education at UC will be invaluable.' says Sandeep.

He, like many other students, is now in the process of deciding which school to attend.

If you find yourself in the same situation, think carefully.Your two or four year tuition investment and time are at stake. It's in your best interest to review certain criteria before finalising on your school of choice.


One of the most important things you can do is self-analysis. After determining what skills you want to develop, ask yourself the following:

Many MBA programs are geared towards general management while others offer specialisations in finance, accounting, international business and so on. Skills and knowledge of the business world are constantly changing and hence it's better to opt for a program which regularly updates its courses and curriculum.

The teaching method adopted by the school is also an important factor to consider. Know the difference between the case-study approach and the 'theoretical' approach. Some MBA programmes have intensive tests while others do not have tests at all.

Many students prefer torture to weekly tests. Says Dartmouth College's business school, 'At Tuck, our approach is innovative yet practical. The curriculum is as flexible as it is focused. Our faculty of respected scholars is accessible, involved, and dedicated to teaching. Our students are bright, accomplished, diverse, and down-to-earth.'

Even MBA programme directors expect students to be focused in their career goals and know what they want from the MBA programme. 'We are looking for students who know what their career goals are.' says Stephen Chambers, Oxford University.

A word about rankings

There are several rankings such as ReportED, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and so on. While students can consult these rankings while deciding on their MBA programmes, it is worthwhile to note that rankings should be used as a subjective criterion and should not be used as an ultimate measure of whether or not to attend a business school.

To find more information on the programme, go straight to the horse's mouth. Query alumni and students currently at your prospective university about the programme you are interested in.

Thesis or work experience?
Many MBA programmes require a major paper, called a thesis. This paper ascertains that you have an accepted level of mastery of your field. Some programmes offer the option of an internship and thesis.

Check to see if your MBA programme has a thesis or internship requirement and whether it allows you the flexibility to choose between the two. If you have less work experience, you may just want an MBA programme that allows and requires an internship.

'I am looking for a part-time MBA as I don't want to quit my job in this economy. I need a weekend programme or a programme that allows maximum flexibility in terms of time commitment. Hence, Arizona State University is my best bet' says Mohit Bhatia, an engineer at Honeywell [Get Quote] International, Arizona.

Narrow down your career choices and be sure that you know which industry you would like to work in. Be practical and ask yourself if you can afford the two year investment and remember that you will be losing your earnings for the two years that you are studying at a business school.

How do I choose my MBA programme?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. There are many factors to consider in selecting an MBA programme, but your primary consideration should be how well it fits your needs and aspirations. 

Don't just be intrigued by the three mystical letters � M, B and A. Know why you want to pursue an MBA degree, what your career goals are and whether a particular MBA programme will help you achieve them or not.

You are about to embark on a path which will change your life. Choose your path wisely.

Karan Gupta will chat with users at 2 pm on 10 July 2007. He is an education consultant and can be contacted on

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