How to Compare MBA Programs

December 2, 2013

General

Making the decision to advance your education and bring your skills to the next level is a serious commitment and one that needs great consideration. Many business professionals struggle to decide what university to attend in order to pursue their studies and how to compare MBA programs.

It is important to compare MBA programs and their unique traits in order to gain a good perspective and find the program and institution that is the best fit for you.

Most prospective students will compare MBA programs cost and location, and also whether or not they intend to go as a part-time or a full-time student.

There are many other MBA program features that you must also consider. The number of credits and duration of an MBA program are very important to consider as they directly affect program cost as well as your professional career.

Full- vs Part-Time

If you decided to attend a full-time MBA program, the less time it takes to complete your degree, the sooner you can begin your new career and reap the financial rewards your MBA affords you.

If you decided to attend a part-time MBA program, the length of time may determine how soon you can earn a promotion or salary increase in your current position. Depending on whether you are part-time or full-time, MBA programs can be as short as 18 months for full-time students and part-time program vary but average 3 years to complete. George Mason’s MBA program enables working professionals to compete their MBA in as few as 23 months.

In-class vs Online

In addition, other aspects of each programs format should be considered when you are trying to compare MBA programs. Online programs may cost less but you lose the networking aspects abundant in in-class programs. You should also research program specializations and dual degree opportunities that meet your interests and professional career goals.

Specializations

At George Mason’s School of Management, we offer a unique National Defense Executive MBA program designed for professionals in the government and government contracting sectors. Other degree specializations vary based on the school you are considering. Some schools offer Centers of Excellence that focus on particular areas of study and may be able to offer a student more in-depth learning in those areas or better opportunities.

It’s always a good idea to research the faculty at each institution and what their background is.  Class size can also impact learning as well.

Accreditation

In addition, often prospective students forget to check on accreditation. Accreditation sets a standard for schools and ensures that you are receiving a certain level of excellence in learning. George Mason School of Management is one of only 10% of business schools worldwide that is accredited in both business and accounting by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.

Student Services

In addition, you should compare career services, mentorship opportunities, job placement, and mean average salary at graduation. Some of this information can be found on websites such as US News & World Report. Other information can be found on individual websites.

One of the best ways to compare MBA programs is to create a spreadsheet listing all the features that matter most to you and then research each school and fill in the information for that school. This will create an easy way to compare MBA programs quickly, at a glance.

Many schools will offer great opportunities, but the trick is finding the one that offers the best opportunities for you. When making such a great investment of time and money, it is vital to compare MBA programs. The best one for you will become clear as you weigh the many options.

About Jackie Buchy

Since 2011, I have served as the assistant dean for graduate enrollment at George Mason University's School of Management. In my role, I work with prospective graduate students to identify and select the best graduate program to meet their career goals.

View all posts by Jackie Buchy

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