Researching MBA’s

I can’t remember when I first found out what an MBA was. Judging by the number of articles about them in business magazines, newspapers and academic press I probably first read about them early on and filed them away as something not worth worrying about.

But somehow when it came to deciding what to do with my career next the idea of an MBA snuck into my head and stayed there. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to university? Wouldn’t it be great to learn all about business? It’s a passport to high-flying jobs, it’s a guaranteed six figure salary by the time you’re thirty, it’s an essential career move for anyone in your position. People say odd things about MBA’s.

So if you’re thinking about doing an MBA it’s probably a good idea to do a lot of soul-searching first. They’re expensive, it’s a year (or more) of your life, it’s a lot of hard work and just applying is a fairly hefty task. The business schools will fall over themselves to extol the value of their product, partly because they really believe they have a great product, and partly because they’re profit-making entities and talking up MBA’s in general and theirs in particular is the mainstay of their marketing.

I ended up with a lot of time to think about mine, since I started looking into it seriously one Christmas, and by the time I’d decided I wanted to apply the deadlines had slipped past and I was applying for a year further on than I’d have liked. So fact one, MBA’s run on academic years – September to September. Applications start in earnest the December before you want to start – about nine months out.

You can do MBA’s in a bunch of different ways. Most people I’d met before I started applying who had or were studying for an MBA were doing it part-time. As far as I can tell ‘part-time’ is a bit of a misnomer. These folk work full-time jobs, go home and do a half time job studying, they don’t get out much, look very stressed and keep this up for two or three years. As you can tell part time didn’t strike me as a good plan, but plenty of people do it and on the plus side you get to keep earning while you study.

So I looked into full-time MBA’s. Here the basic distinction seemed to be between one and two-year programs, although some places – like Manchester, offer eighteen month courses. Most American MBA’s are two-year programs, most European ones are one year. American business schools are often happy to accept students straight from university, most European schools insist on three or more years commercial experience.

The real difference about MBA’s though seems to be about which school you go to. I’ve included a whole section in this site about choosing an MBA school because the schools go to great lengths to stress how unique each course is.

For the most part though I’d suggest you read the rest of this site and follow the links on the right. I’ve tried to select a range of articles about MBA’s and cover a spectrum of opinions. I’d also suggest finding a few MBA graduates and students to talk to – straight from the horse’s mouth is always the best way to get your information.