The right MBA for me?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ChiSquare, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. ChiSquare

    ChiSquare New Member

    People usually suggest "the most prestigious MBA program" that you can pay and get accepted to it. But is it always true?

    Some information on my background: earned equivalent of a master's degree in mechanical engineering from a public university in a central European country, 33 years old, scored 760 on GMAT (fine score for a non-native speaker of English), certifications: PMP from PMI and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt from ASQ, have international experience from Middle East, East Asia and Europe.

    My idea for this topic is not to necessarily get a list of programs (we have sticky topics for such lists), but to get your input on which factors should I consider in making my choice.
  2. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    Your experience in the field is much more important than which school you come from. For most employers, having the correct degree is just a check they put in a box on their interview form. Rarely does any thought go into exactly which school you attended. I'm speaking from 25 years of experience in the business world. The exceptions would be for degrees from the very top of the heap, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Etc., which might help you land a job. But a highly experienced person would often be seen as more valuable than a person from an ivy league school who has little experience, in many cases. Please note that I'm talking in very vague generalities; there will be a number of exceptions.
  3. ChiSquare

    ChiSquare New Member

    Hmmm, one important factor is that my current degree is not from an english-speaking university (or at least western european university). Sometimes I feel that even a lowest tier degree from USA or UK is much more appreciated by some organizations than the degree I have, at least on some initial level. After some time on the job I can prove my skills and knowledge, but not if I don't pass the initial screening.
  4. mark74

    mark74 New Member

    Nice job on the GMAT!

    I think prestige is actually important in your case. You have a strong resume and the contacts you make in a more prestigious program will probably be more beneficial to you. Also, I think prestige adds more with the your prior degree not being recognized by some organizations.

    If you are interested in a particular specialization, I think that would be an important factor.

    Part time or full time, distance or on campus are other considerations.

    I don't know where you live now and if you plan on staying there, but local versus national (or global) reputation would be another consideration.
  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Often the first question that is asked is, "What do you hope this degree will do for you?" If you are hoping to gain a promotion within your current organization then you might look at the resumes of the people who hold the positions that interest you. If you are thinking of changing organizations you can sample those prospects in the same way. You may see a pattern within organizations but my own experience echoes what Michael has said, that it's your experience that counts most. If you are thinking of shifting away from Mechanical Engineering (that's my degree too) then you can probably seek out an MBA with that (or similar) specialization. Personally, I think that name brand matters a bit but not as much as some others might think. For example, there are probably some law firms that actually require you to have your law degree from an Ivy League law school. However, my own experience is that if you want to climb the corporate ladder the single best qualification you can obtain is a track record of making a lot of money for your employer. If you can do that then no one will care where you earned your degrees.
  6. ChiSquare

    ChiSquare New Member

    I forgot to mention that I am not planning to make some extreme career change (to investment banking or similar), but I want to build-up on my current experience in a some way. I am working basically as a freelancer on contracts, I traded "safety" for better pay and an opportunity to work on more interesting projects.

    One reason for picking a more prestigious program could be my background (previous education and nationality). I can get more from such a program than a person with a first degree from a similar prestigious institution.

    One reason against is my age. At 33 I am not very old, but I get an impression that such programs are oriented to people that are on average a bit younger than I am.
  7. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator Staff Member

    I agree. ChiSquare, you might feel that a name degree will help you, especially since your primary degree is not from the US, and it might help a little, depending on your specific circumstance. The primary factor, as Kizment has said, is a track record. A name brand degree could help you a little, experience will help you a lot. It appears that you are saying that you have some good experience under your belt. As a business owner and employer for 25 years, I'm suggesting that experience is more important than a name brand school. Your experience will be listed on your resume and I'm saying that it will help you get past the screening more than a name brand degree will. However, a name brand degree could help a little, but not as much as one would assume.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2010
  8. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    33? That's old!
  9. ChiSquare

    ChiSquare New Member


    Compared to students at B&M full time programs, 33 is a bit above average. "Old" is probably too strong a word.
  10. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    Top tier MBA programs Are biased against applicants over 30. Typically, most students have worked 3-5 years before enrolling, putting average age somewhere between 25-28 at elite programs.
  11. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    I only said that to poke fun at myself, as I am 48 years old.
  12. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member


    Ageism isn't as big a factor in EMBA / Part-Time MBA admissions as it is for full-time on-campus programs. Several folks in my Fuqua class were pushing and / or past 40 years old by the time we graduated. Given where the question was posed, I'm assuming that you're primarily interested in non-traditional programs, but much of my advice would apply even if you're targeting full-time, on-campus programs. Some things you might want to consider are:

    1. What's the length of the program? Most are two years with a summer internship, but there are some programs you can complete in under a calendar year with an intensive summer followed by a more traditional "second year" experience in the fall and spring semesters. The University of Florida's Warrington school has a great one-year program (full or part-time), as does Notre Dame (full-time only). (Both schools also have more traditional two-year programs)

    2. Where do graduates generally land, geographically speaking? Most every b-school will tell you that their program in "nationally known", but only a few truly place people nationwide (or worldwide). Most schools keep relatively detailed placement info, especially on full-time students. Knowing where people are being hired also helps you know where a school's alumni network is strong.

    3. Post-MBA salary numbers, especially compared to pre-program numbers. I'm assuming you're looking at b-school as an investment in yourself, right?

    4. Program format - how do you study? Some programs are cohort-based, some have residencies, some are based on all-or-nothing exams given once a year. You'll need to examine what works for you. Personally, on-campus residencies were my favorite part of my EMBA experience, but some people don't want to take the time needed to go to campus and meet their fellow students.

    5. How's the football team doing? (Just kidding.)

    Best of luck in your decision!


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