When exploring different MBA program options, you might begin by paying attention to MBA rankings. These rankings can help you start your search for schools offering this degree program, but they aren’t the only thing to consider. MBA rankings are based on factors such as the average GRE or GMAT scores among MBA applicants, but during your search keep in mind that each ranking available utilizes different perimeters and data to weigh their final ranking.
You may wonder, as you compare your MBA program options, how much should you focus on these rankings? Attending a ranked program can offer certain benefits; but there are also other factors to consider when choosing a business program. The following information can help you understand whether it matters where you earn your MBA.
How Prestige Can Help
Going to a valuable and prestigious program with a good MBA ranking can come with certain advantages. These programs achieve their rankings based on the quality of the education they provide, along with many other ranking factors. When you’re looking for a business school to attend, here are some possible benefits that some high-ranked MBA programs offer.
MBA graduates have different experiences finding jobs after completing their degree program. This depends on several factors, such as their location and the type of work they are searching for. Those with an MBA from a ranked program could have an advantage when finding jobs. Some employers may try to recruit graduates from prestigious business schools, which can make it easier for these students to find job opportunities. Those who don’t attend these schools may not have access to the same opportunities if the company hiring makes graduating from a high-ranking program a priority.
Alumni networks can be a valuable source of information on job opportunities, mentorship, and guidance. Students attending prestigious programs may have an alumni network available that could be connected to open positions at specific companies, or a professional network comprised of industry leaders they could work with in the future. This guidance, support, and potential job opportunity source can make going to a high-ranked MBA program beneficial.
Some companies form partnerships with top-ranked MBA programs to recruit students. Campus recruitment benefits both companies and MBA graduates. Companies can find new employees who have received a high-quality education, while students can access coveted career opportunities. It’s not just prestigious programs that form these partnerships though, other schools can offer fantastic campus recruitment opportunities as well.
Potential Downsides of Prestigious Programs
Despite the noted advantages prestigious MBA programs offer, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider. Weighing the pros and cons of attending one of these high-ranked business schools is vital as you compare your options for degree programs. These are a few possible drawbacks to keep in mind when you’re considering which MBA program to attend.
Cost of Tuition
One of the main drawbacks of top-ranked schools is the cost. Although tuition and other expenses can vary considerably among MBA programs, those with prestige tend to cost more. This can be a significant disadvantage if you’re hoping to keep college costs low or you want to stay within a specific price range. While financial aid is available, competition for scholarships, grants, and other options can be fierce.
Just as competition for financial aid is tough at prestigious schools, getting into one of these programs can also be difficult. Top-ranked business schools tend to have many applications for admission each year. When you apply to these programs, you can expect to face fierce competition. Since most schools only accept a limited number of applications, you might have a lower overall chance of getting in.
Standing Out in the Crowd
Making a good impression on your instructors through class participation can be helpful when earning your MBA. You might also have opportunities to interact with instructors after class, such as during office hours or study sessions. However, being at a prestigious school can make this more difficult. In most MBA programs, you’ll be among many other students vying for the attention of your instructors. It’s important to find a program where you can interact with the instructors to stand out more during and after class.
What Should I Look for in an MBA Program?
Rank isn’t the only factor to consider when comparing your MBA program options. In fact, choosing a school with a high-quality education and other notable qualities or benefits can be a better choice for you overall. As you compare different schools, consider the following factors.
No matter where you earn your MBA, having quality instructors is essential. You can find these instructors at many schools, not just prestigious ones. When you explore program options, take time to learn about the MBA faculty to get a better idea of the quality of instruction they offer. High-quality instruction is integral to ensuring you’re learning what you need to know to excel in the business world.
Having support services at the school you attend can be incredibly helpful. When looking into MBA program options, choose a school that offers support services. These can vary from program to program but might include counseling, academic advising, tutoring, or other forms of assistance. Support services can make your MBA experience less stressful and more fulfilling overall. In addition to student support, look over the school’s activities and events.
Fit Your Schedule
Finding a program that works for you is important when narrowing down your choice. For example, you might have difficulty attending in-person classes full-time if you’re also a full-time employee. In this case, finding a school with more flexible options, such as part-time or hybrid MBA programs, might better suit your schedule.
When you earn an MBA degree, you might be interested in focusing on a particular area or field, depending on your career goals. Some MBA schools provide you with an opportunity to choose a specialization. This specialization or concentration includes courses that help you learn skills and knowledge more relevant to a particular field or area. For example, you might choose a specialization in healthcare administration, finance, or business analytics if you want to focus on one of these areas.
Do All Employers Look at School Rank?
Not all employers look for MBA graduates who attended ranked programs. While some major corporations might do this, other businesses are more open to hiring graduates with the skills they are looking for, regardless of where they earned their MBA. As you explore different options for your MBA degree program, remember that the following industries may place less emphasis on MBA rankings than others.
The tech industry tends to focus less on finding graduates from specific MBA programs. This industry typically looks for MBA graduates with the proper knowledge and skills needed in the tech field. For example, you might have an easier time being considered for a management or leadership position in a tech company compared to a management position in another industry that focuses more on recruiting MBA grads from ranked programs.
Global or large corporations may prioritize MBA graduates from high-ranked programs. However, smaller businesses, including start-ups, are usually more open to considering job candidates with an MBA from lesser ranked schools as long as they have the skills needed for available positions, such as leadership skills for an executive or management position.
Starting Your Own Business
When you earn your MBA, you’ll develop essential skills for running your own business. If you don’t want to look for jobs in specific industries or work for a start-up, you have the option to become an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you can use the skills and knowledge you learned in your MBA program while launching and running your own business.
How to Stand Out in Your MBA Program
Regardless of which MBA program you choose, there are many ways to highlight your skills. Remember that as long as you choose a program with quality instructors and other important determining factors, you’ll earn an education to launch the next step in your career. The following can help ensure that you thrive and market yourself competitively when looking for jobs.
Be a Star in Your Program
Being a standout in your MBA program can give you a competitive edge when you begin looking for jobs. As a top student in your class or one who has made a great impression in and outside the classroom, you can ask your instructors to write letters of recommendation or act as references on job applications. Putting in the effort to excel in your program is an excellent way to stand out from the competition.
If you have employment experience, you can put this to use while job searching or trying to land a promotion in your company. Think about all the skills you have been able to develop with real-world job experience. These skills and experience in the workplace can make you more marketable as a job candidate, especially compared to students who do not yet have this experience.
Attending an accredited school can be important to help you stand out as an MBA graduate. Earning certification in your field or industry can also give you an advantage. Certification indicates that you’ve gone above and beyond to learn and develop relevant skills for your career. Being certified means you have also met an organization’s standards for eligibility.
What About an Online MBA?
Online MBA programs can provide an excellent way to earn your degree if attending classes in person full-time isn’t possible. This type of program allows you to focus on school, such as watching video lectures and completing assignments, on your own schedule rather than on a set schedule, as long as you meet deadlines. Online MBA programs at quality schools can provide an outstanding education while helping you avoid the stress of rearranging or adjusting your schedule. Instead of going back and forth to campus, you can focus on studying, doing assignments and projects, or learning new material.If you’re interested in online MBA programs, please contact Gary W. Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We offer a fully online MBA program and a flexible MBA program with both on-campus and online classes.