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 Introduction to MBA Guide

Intensive, competitive and highly respected, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an elite professional qualification. No other graduate degree prepares students to enter the workforce ready to train, manage, and lead organizational teams.

This guide gives aspiring B-Students a compass to not just purse the right MBA program but how to succeed during their B-School studies.  This Guide is designed for both the aspiring B-Student looking for the right program. It explains how an MBA differs from other Masters programs, how to choose the perfect program for you, and how to succeed once you become a B-Student. This Guide includes specific details of the MBA application process and course content.

If you’re not sure an MBA is for you, that’s fine. Our guide to postgraduate qualifications covers other types of degree – including MA and MSc courses in Business. Our goal is simple: to arm prospective B-Students with the resources necessary to make an informed decision around their MBA program.

For additional perspectives and advice on succeeding in your MBA program, read our Online MBA Guide.

Six Reasons to Earn Your MBA Sooner Rather than Later

Make no mistake, earning a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) is a commendable achievement, but does it set you apart in the ever-changing, rapidly growing, highly competitive global business environment? The answer is: not anymore.

The MBA is the New BBA in the Business World

Make no mistake, earning a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) is a commendable achievement, but does it set you apart in the ever-changing, rapidly growing, highly competitive global business environment? The answer is: not anymore. There is one way to separate yourself from the pack and grow as a business person prior to landing your ideal position: obtain an MBA degree. Let’s face it, many of the Fortune 500 companies hire MBAs only and getting your foot in the door at a Fortune 500 company could be the difference between low wages at promising startups and high earnings at stable companies. In most cases, big firms provide job security especially compared to startup or lesser known firms.

According to a Washington Post report, those with a master’s degree can expect to earn $457,000 more over the course of their career than those with just a bachelor’s degree. Also the number of jobs that require a master’s degree are projected to increase at a much higher rate than other jobs, through 2020.

Networking. Networking. Networking.

From day one as a B-Student, you’ll have an opportunity to collaborate with fellow students, professors, administrators, and alumni from a variety of industry sectors. In addition, most MBA programs recruit their student body from all over the world. As you can imagine, this drastically enhances the business school experience and exposes you different business practices, cultures and points of view. This allows for networking opportunities with B-Students already established in the global business community. Just like a highly successful company, an accredited MBA program should be a reflection of members of the global business community. The more international students, the better the program. In the business world, a company that hires employees from all over the world differentiates itself from the competition. A diverse employee pool is in a better position to service clients, customers, vendors, and partners in other parts of the world. The employee talent should represent the company’s most important asset: its customers. This is similar to an MBA program. If you want to collaborate, network, and learn from global business leaders, it’s highly recommended that prospective B-Students attend an institution that accepts a higher percentage of international students compared to students from the U.S.

A more culturally diverse student population is especially important for the MBA student interested in working abroad or simply wants to broaden their international business acumen. If a graduate student plans on working for a multinational company, gaining insight into how other countries conduct business is invaluable. AACSB accredited MBA programs attract extremely talented global students. Learning from a diverse student population can only strengthen your global business skills and make you well-rounded business professional.

The connections you make in graduate school can be the single most valuable asset, so make sure you capitalize on the opportunities in and out of the classroom during your MBA studies. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university as well as to countless professional opportunities you can tap into throughout your career. Joining student organizations while on campus could be the difference between getting a foot-in-the-door at an amazing company or not. It could be the difference between hearing about an incredible job opportunity at a Fortune 500 company or not. Your sphere of influence is arguably one of the most important components on the road to success.

While the quality of the education at the most AACSB-accredited programs is guaranteed across B-schools, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100,000, it’s the people you know that make the transition from student to businessperson a seamless one.

Master Classic Business Wisdom and Fundamentals

Business school arms its B-Students with the tools necessary to effectively lead organizations. While MBA students often pursue highly coveted positions in finance, management, and consulting, the skills one develops at B-School are transferable to a wide range of careers. The sky’s the limit for an MBA graduate. Today, you’ll find an increasing number of MBAs working in tech, healthcare, e-commerce, consumer goods, government, nonprofits, and many other industries.

Both practical and theoretical skills are developed during an MBA – leadership, quantitative reasoning, analysis and critical thinking, communication, ethics, and negotiation – all critical pieces of the puzzle as one pursues their ideal career path.

Whether it’s starting as a financial advisor trainee at Fidelity Investments or as a group sales manager at Wayfair, MBA graduates have ample opportunity to explore various functions that make up a business. Once an MBA graduate has a deeper understanding of the inner workings of a company, has mastered internal systems, and how to communicate effectively with clients, greater opportunity for advancement will present itself. Simply stated, an MBA graduate has the ability to forge his/her own career path.

Learn Cutting Edge Business Trends and Intelligence

MBA graduates have more than just a piece of paper signifying the completion of a rigorous business program. They have been hand-delivered all of the latest business trends and up-to-date intelligence across multiple business sectors. An MBA in Information Technology, for example, is designed for students with strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship. The traditional MBA in Management is now an action-packed program that includes heavy coursework in finance, economics, marketing, finance, operations, and technology.

With the breakneck pace of technological innovation and its ripple effect on the global economy, every MBA program integrates cutting-edge technology into their curriculum. Working with the latest inventory system is now part of a managerial accounting course. Management courses will integrate the use of Salesforce software into a case study analysis. Graduate courses in finance will have students work with Forex trading platforms in order to learn sound investment strategies. In other words, MBA graduates have access to all the latest real world technology. Today, B-Schools are generating more tech-savvy students ready to seamlessly integrate into the real world. This really does separate an MBA student from graduates of a BBA program.

Higher Employment Rates

Having an MBA is a powerful tool that can increase job security with your current employer or within your current industry. When the Graduate Management Admission Council released its latest annual poll of employers, it forecasted robust 2016 hiring that reflects high demand for MBA graduates. A whopping 96 percent of responding employers agreed that hiring business school graduates creates value for their companies.

The MBA degree is also a powerful differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Recruiters have said that some of their corporate clients will not consider any candidate without an MBA, which shows just how much business leaders value this qualification. Employers believe it vets potential hires; you can safely assume an MBA graduate from Harvard Business School or the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania is going to bring considerable skills and business acumen to the job from day one.

Without a doubt, companies appreciate managers who have risen through the ranks, know the business inside and out and can get the job done. But they also like hiring MBAs for their ability to handle complex situations, be nimble and adapt in the face of a rapidly changing global environment. As outsiders, MBA hires can provide a broad or fresh perspective to see how to improve inefficiencies or come up with innovative solutions to business problems.

Your Potential Earnings

The MBA qualification from an accredited business school is an impressive achievement, with the potential to seriously enhance your CV. Most MBA graduates enter the workforce with not just promising job prospects but salaries that align with middle management. According to the U.S. News, the average starting salary (including bonus) among graduates of full-time AACSB-ranked MBA programs increased 12.9% from 2011 and 2016, rising from $83,280.51 to $94,048.24. Lifetime earnings compound.

So what does the latest data show about the ROI look like for an MBA today? With tuition prices skyrocketing to all-time highs and coveted six-figure jobs going to graduates of elite institutions, is it still worth it to pursue your MBA? Review these two informative posts to find out more

Here are some tips on how MBA program selection can affect your potential earnings. Consider these points prior to pursuing an MBA:

  • Make sure your MBA programs has a high graduate job placement rate. If your B-School doesn’t list the job placement percentages, the industry sector, and the companies that hire graduates at your prospective institution, consider it a red flag as an applicant. Your MBA degree should yield an ROI once you graduate and enter the workforce. Advice: know the job placement numbers prior to applying. It’s always important to know how much weight your degree carries in the real world.
  • Your objective is to minimize student loan debt and maximize future earnings. If you have the option of attending a reputable state school with fantastic industry connections for less tuition, you end up being on the right side of the income-to-debt ratio. The opposite is a less reputable B-Student lacking industry connections and high tuition costs.
  • Everyone has their own strategy when choosing the best MBA ROI. That may mean getting into the lowest-ranking school (usually means low tuition) with incredible industry connections. Others take the approach of best ranking B-School (usually means higher tuition) and large starting salaries to pay off the debt burden upon graduation.

For example: here is a snapshot of the career path a new MBA graduate follows at Wayfair.com – the #1 online retailer of home decor in the United States:

  • An MBA graduate starts in the Wayfair sales management trainee program (not just as an entry-level customer service/sales representative).
  • The starting salary is $42,000 + bonus. This is close to $12,000 more in base salary compared to entry level sales reps.
  • Wayfair trains and invests in MBA graduates (which makes them more marketable/valuable) over their sales career.
  • MBA graduates learn more at Wayfair because the startup environment. Employees are expected to wear multiple hats while managing teams (sales, customer service, product marketing, supplier operations, logistics, etc.).
  • The name-brand of Wayfair.com helps MBA graduates boost their CV – improving their chances of being hired in their next position, inside or outside the company. It will have a lasting impact on their entire e-commerce career.
  • From Sales Manager to Group Manager, MBA graduates experience significant salary gains including profit sharing at levels 10x’s the amount of entry-to-mid level sales representatives.

Five Careers That Pay the Most after Earning an MBA

An MBA is all about achieving individual excellence. By the time you graduate you should have the skills and experience to succeed in high-pressure, high-paying leadership roles, whether that’s in a Financial Advisor training program at Merrill Lynch or within Wayfair’s eCommerce Sales Management program. Your MBA studies will translate nicely into the real-world no matter the career path you choose. You’ll have the skills and experience to succeed where someone else might not. Here is a list of five careers that most benefit MBA graduates:

Managerial Consulting

MBAs with a specialization in Strategy earned the most (ranked by mid-career salary) among those holding a degree in business management, according to PayScale. The median early career pay (0-5 years) was $96,000 (figures rounded to the nearest thousand) and mid-career pay (10 or more years) $149,000. The gender distribution in PayScale’s sample was 71 percent men and 29 percent women.

Category Description
Top Jobs and Salaries
  • Management Consultant – $78,000-$166,000
  • Senior Product Manager – $71,000-$174,000
  • Senior Strategy Manager – $76,000-$209,00
  • Strategy Consultant – $130,000
  • Chief Operating Officer – $135,000
  • Senior Marketing Manager – $133,000
  • Business Consultant – $90,000
Salaries Experience
  • Less than one year – $75,000
  • 1-4 years – $77,000
  • 5-9 years – $99,000
  • 10-19 years – $130,000
  • > 20 years – $160,000
Salaries for Men and Women:
  • Men – $72,000-$148,000
  • Women – $52,000-$135,000
Top Employers
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers – $136,000-$185,000
  • Booz, Allen, and Hamilton – $123,000
  • Google – $120,000
  • Amazon – $107,000-$152,000
  • Intel – $76,000-$124,000

Strategic Management

MBAs with specialization in General and Strategic Management were second on the list of business majors/fields with the highest-paying jobs. Their median early career and mid-career pay were $85,000 and $146,000, respectively. The gender distribution in the sample was 67 percent male and 33 percent female.

Category Description
Top Jobs and Salaries
  • Chief Executive Officer – $90,000-$350,000
  • Management Consultant – $73,000-$175,000
  • Senior Vice President of Operations – $235,000
  • Senior Marketing Manager – $133,000
  • Senior Business Analyst – $67,000
  • Vice President / General Manager – $165,000
  • Product Management Director – $145,000
Salaries by Experience
  • < 1 year – $50,000
  • 1-4 years – $84,000
  • 5-9 years – $104,000
  • 10-19 years – $114,000
  • > 20 years – $159,000
Salaries for Men and Women:
  • Men – $66,000-$157,000
  • Women – $51,000-$120,000
Top Employers
  • Visa – $145,000
  • Amazon – $130,000
  • Slalom Consulting – $121,000
  • Booz, Allen, and Hamilton – $101,000

Marketing Executive

Entrepreneurship was the third best MBA specialization for high salaries. The median early career and mid-career salaries were $70,000 and $130,000, respectively. The gender distribution was 75 percent male and 25 percent female.

Category Description
Top Jobs and Salaries
  • Senior Product Manager – $98,000-$159,000
  • Marketing Director – $42,000-$235,000
  • Product Manager (software) – $65,000-$134,000
  • Business Development Director – $127,000
  • Business Development Manager – $82,000
  • Chief Financial Officer – $117,000
  • Director of Operations – $92,000
Salaries by Experience
  • < 1 year – $52,000
  • 1-4 years – $64,000
  • 5-9 years – $89,000
  • 10-19 years – $117,000
  • > 20 years – $130,000
Salaries for Men and Women:
  • Men – $55,000-$134,000
  • Women – $41,000-$107,000
Top Employers
  • Aluminum Company of America – $160,000
  • Amazon – $129,000
  • Control4 – $117,000
  • MassMutual Financial Group – $102,000
  • PNC Financial Services Group – $79,000

Corporate Finance

Corporate finance majors earned a median early career pay of $78,000 and mid-career pay of $138,000. The gender distribution was 75 percent male and 25 percent female.

Category Description
Top Jobs and Salaries
  • Financial analyst – $49,000-$103,000
  • Finance manager – $71,000-$133,000
  • Senior financial analyst – $69,000-$108,000
  • hief financial officer ($89,000-$222,000)
  • Financial controller – $93,000
  • Vice president (finance) – $160,000
  • Finance director – $142,000
Salaries by Experience
  • < 1 year – $55,000
  • 1-4 years – $71,000
  • 5-9 years – $87,000
  • 10-19 years – $117,000
  • > 20 years – $152,000
Salaries for Men and Women:
  • Men – $59,000-$132,000
  • Women – $54,000 – $124,000
Top Employers
  • Leidos – $86,000
  • JP Morgan Chase – $85,000
  • Ropes & Gray – $72,000
  • Applied Systems – $63,000-$69,000
  • Long Island University – $49,000

Economics

Business management graduates with a focus on Finance and Economics took home an early career median pay of $67,000 and a mid-career median pay of $137,000. The gender distribution was 79 percent male and 21 percent female.

Category Description
Top Jobs and Salaries
  • Financial analyst – $51,000-$364,000
  • Portfolio manager – $110,000
  • Fnance manager – $116,000
  • Director of operations – $120,000
  • President – $190,000
  • Senior business analyst – $93,000
  • Project manager (IT) – $112,000
Salaries by Experience
  • 1-4 years – $60,000
  • 5-9 years – $90,000
  • 10-19 years – $101,000
  • > 20 years – $133,000
Salaries for Men and Women:
  • Men – $53,000-$133,000
  • Women – $63,000-$133,000
Top Employers
  • Citibank – $170,000
  • Morgan Stanley – $128,000
  • Atkore International – $95,000

Top MBA Positions and Salaries

Position Salary MBA major
Senior Strategy Manager $76,000-$209,000 Strategy
Chief Operating Officer $135,000 Strategy
Chief Executive Officer $90,000-$350,000 Gen Management or Strategic Management
Senior VP (Operations) $235,000 Gen Management or Strategic Management
Senior Product Manager $98,000-$159,000 Entrepreneurship
Marketing Director $42,000-$235,000 Entrepreneurship
Chief Financial Officer $89,000-$222,000 Corporate Finance
VP (Finance) $160,000 Corporate Finance
Financial Analyst $51,000-$364,000 Finance & Economics
President $190,000 Finance & Economics
Chief Financial Officer $82,000-$240,000 Finance
VP (Finance) $99,000-$220,000 Finance
VP (Marketing) $100,000-$186,000 Business & Marketing
Senior Product Manager $84,000-$151,000 Business & Marketing
Senior Marketing Manager $101,000-$150,000 Marketing & Management
Chief Information Officer $90,000-$212,000 Information Technology
VP (IT) $116,000-$207,000 Information Technology

Source: payscale.com

Choose an MBA Concentration That Fits You

Research Your MBA Options

With so many on-campus MBA programs available, it might seem a bit overwhelming deciding the best concentration. Whether you’re a busy professional looking for a part-time evening program or a full-time accelerated MBA student, you still have to pick a concentration. A general studies MBA might sound like an easier option, but a focused MBA with an emphasis can give you the specific education you need for your area of work, like finance, healthcare, or management. If you plan on sitting for the CPA, it’s recommended that you take graduate coursework in accounting/finance in order to fulfill the educational requirements to sit for the exam.

      Understand the Courses for Each MBA Program

      Researching your MBA programs require and concentration courses is a smart decision. Reading through the course descriptions will help you understand exactly what you’ll be learning from each MBA course. Know that some of the listed courses might require you to take prerequisite classes such as statistics, accounting, or finance to prepare you for master’s level coursework. Find typical course work from MBA programs in our concentration guides

      Find Your Passion

      Are you good with numbers? Do you see yourself as a Healthcare Administrator? Do you a natural born salesperson? These are all questions you might want to ask yourself prior to making a decision on your concentration. Write down a list of your interests, and compare and contrast them with the available MBA paths. Granted, you may find your interest while attending B-School but having a clear focus prior to entry will ensure a focused plan of attack.

      6 Key Criteria to Consider Before Applying to an MBA Program

      It’s important to make sure your MBA degree carries weight. An MBA is a hefty investment and its best to make sure you get your money’s worth. A business school’s reputation plays an important role to play in guaranteeing a ROI on your MBA. Like most graduate programs, MBAs are subject to accreditation by various professional business and management organizations. It’s important to note that not all accrediting agencies are created equal. You must choose wisely and understand which accreditation your school holds prior to rendering a decision.

      Accreditors evaluate areas such as the quality of a program’s course content and facilities, the skills of its instructors, the profile of its internships and the success of its graduates.

      Accreditation is one of the first things you’ll want to check when comparing MBA programs. To illustrate the importance of accreditation: most Fortune 500 companies only recruit MBA graduates from AACSB-accredited programs.

      The Importance an AACSB Accreditation

      To become accredited by the AACSB, an MBA program  must be a member institution of the AACSB and offer degree-granting programs in business or accounting. If a school is a member and would like to apply for review, it must submit an application for accreditation. The AACSB evaluates the application and determines whether a school has the potential to receive accreditation. The most current AACSB International accreditation standards were published in the Eligibility Procedures and Accreditation Standards for Business Accreditation, adopted by the AACSB on April 25, 2003, and revised as recently as April, 2013. You can read about the accreditation process by clicking here.

      If the institution has established a business program and it meets the preliminary standards of quality required for AACSB accreditation, the evaluation process begins. The next step in the process is the Standards Alignment Plan. Once the institution meets its alignment plan and about two years prior to its on-site review, the school is assigned a Peer Review Team chief. Working alongside school administrators, the chief establishes an evaluation visit date and develops a Self-Evaluation Report. In the self-evaluation process, the school prepares a detailed review of its academic program and outlines how it compares to AACSB standards. This is the critical phase in the accreditation process.

      After the Peer Review Team visits the school, a report is created to recommend accreditation, deferral or no accreditation. Review committees and the AACSB board of directors make the final decision about accreditation. The institution is notified every step of the way.

      AACSB MBA programs follow a rigorous standard in delivering high-quality business education to its B-Students. With that comes MBA degrees conferrals that are widely recognized by Fortune 500 companies. This results in lucrative job opportunities.

      According to Businessweek.com, about 12,000 schools worldwide provide business degrees, but “fewer than 10% are accredited by AACSB or one of the other top accreditation agencies” AACSB graduates are considered a cut above and due to the breadth of their business education, they are heavily recruited. According to the AACSB, many of the top global corporations pick their talent pool from accredited business schools, and graduates with  MBAs from AACSB programs are offered more competitive salaries. There’s a host of Fortune 500 companies that reimburse tuition from only AACSB-accredited business schools.

      An AACSB-accredited MBA will provide a degree program that is held to the highest of standards established by the world’s most recognized business education accrediting agency.

      Campus vs. Online Tuition

      If you plan on attending B-School, it’s best to start thinking about fiscal responsibility. A prospective B-Student needs to weigh their tuition options. You might find that a reputable Online program could be a more cost effective approach to B-School especially considering the added expenses of attending class on-campus. An AACSB-accredited MBA program, whether it’s online or on-campus, can pave the way for a great starting salary or career advancement. An online MBA program can provide the flexibility of completing a program while being employed in your respective career. The time factor is a critical component in deciding whether to attend online or via the traditional, on-campus format.

      The lowest in-state tuition for on-campus MBA programs is $208.00 from Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi compared to the highest in-state tuition of $132,000.00 from Dartmouth College. There’s a significant tuition range for in-state programs. The average in-state tuition is $36,958.67 compared to an average out-of-state tuition of $49,418.56 for traditional MBA programs. If you have the option of attending a highly reputable, accredited in-state program, saving close to $13,000 in tuition costs may be a better option. If geography is a limiting factor, then a well-respected online MBA program may be the best option for aspiring B-Students. The average in-state online MBA program is $34,053.96 compared to $48,192.08 for the average out-of-state program.

      Campus Tuition

      10 Least Expensive Campus MBA Programs

      1. Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi - $208.00
      2. Minnesota State University Moorhead - $375.00
      3. Ball State University - $394.00
      4. Indiana University of Pennsylvania - $508.00
      5. Union University - $555.00
      6. Portland State University - $735.00
      7. Clark Atlanta University - $861.00
      8. Fairfield University - $875.00
      9. Meredith College - $900.00
      10. University of Washington Tacoma - $1,022.00

      Online Tuition

      10 Least Expensive Online MBA Programs

      1. Georgia Southwestern State University - $8,484.00
      2. University of Central Arkansas - $9,129.00
      3. Southeast Missouri State University - $9,785.00
      4. New Mexico State University - $9,882.00
      5. Columbus State University - $10,245.00
      6. Valdosta State University - $10,450.00
      7. Midwestern State University - $10,529.00
      8. Jackson State University - $11,010.00
      9. Emporia State University - $11,196.00
      10. Missouri State University - $11,291.00

      Student Class Size and Alumni Networking

      Every MBA program has a strategy behind their student enrollment numbers . As a prospective B-Student, you should know that enrollment size has a direct impact on networking opportunities, job placement, and your relationship with fellow classmates, B-School class  size should play an important role in the decision making process. For the B-Student interested a cohort (a group of B-Students that stay together for the duration of their program) environment and flourishes with more intimate settings, smaller enrollment sizes may be a better fit. This is especially true for cohort programs where the MBA class completes the program together.

      The average MBA enrollment for on-campus programs is 262 students. The average MBA part-time enrollment for on-campus is 248 students. Without the limitation of classroom space, virtual courses can boost their enrollment, so if you choose an online MBA program, you may want to ask about number of students per class. You may end up being one of 50 interacting in discussion boards instead of the benefits of a small classroom on-campus. It’s important to note there is a significant difference between the online study experience versus the traditional classroom experience. Chat rooms and course discussion boards will be impacted with a large class size compared to a more intimate, smaller class size of a traditional classroom.

      Campus Enrollment

      Campus MBA Full-Time Student Population

      • Smallest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 9
      • Highest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 1,100
      • Average MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 325

      Campus Part-Time MBA Student Population

      • Smallest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 2
      • Largest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 1,283
      • Average Part-time MBA Students: 327

      Online Enrollment

      Online MBA Full-Time Student Population

      • Smallest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 9
      • Highest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 799
      • Average MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 277

      Online Part-Time MBA Student Population

      • Smallest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 21
      • Largest MBA Full-Time Enrollment: 871
      • Average Part-time MBA Students: 335

      Reputation and Rankings

      To guarantee yourself the best education, it’s crucial that you choose an accredited degree program, preferably from the AACSB. Upon completion of your MBA, you will have a well-respected business credential, lifelong networking opportunities, and a comprehensive business education that follows the highest of standards for B-Schools. So what are some of the accrediting agencies for top-ranked B-Schools?

      There are some well-known business organizations that accredit business schools across the globe. These organizations are responsible for evaluating the academic programs and ensuring the highest standards of B-School education are met. There are three accrediting organizations that are recognized by the U.S. Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.

      The most widely recognized and well-respected business accrediting organization is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Founded in 1916 and considered to be the most prestigious of the agencies, the AACSB has granted their accreditation stamp of approval to 796 member institutions in 53 countries, according to the most recent statistics on the organization’s website.

      The second most widely recognized organization is the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP). Signifying a high quality business education program, the ACBSP has a different approach to granting accreditation compared to the AACSB but the mission is still the same: to promote excellence in business education. Established in 1988, the accredits more than 1,200 campuses in 60 countries, according to the organization’s website.

      The third most recognized accrediting organization is the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). As the new kid on the block, the IACBE was established in 1997 and is focused on “educational outcomes of an academic business unit relative to its mission rather than prescriptive standards, according to the IACBE website. The IACBE accredited business programs and colleges and universities worldwide that demonstrate characteristics of excellence, its website says. The organization is certainly gaining some momentum with its commitment to business program excellence but it still has yet to garner the respect the AACSB accreditation carries.

      For more information on accrediting agencies and the accreditation process for business schools, check out the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation database. Prior to making any decision on where to attend B-Schools, it’s imperative to see whether a school holds national or regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is the baseline standard for institutional accreditation and is a must-have credential. The bottom line: if you attend an AACSB-accredited B-School, you are guaranteeing a top-notch, high-quality business education that carries a ton of weight in the business world.

      Student/Faculty Ratio

      The lowest MBA Student/Faculty ratio is 0.05 compared to the program with the highest Student/Faculty ratio of 19.64. These metrics are for traditional, on-campus programs. The lower the ratio, the better it is for students. They get the personalized one-on-one attention from faculty mentors that have extensive experience in the industry. The Student/Faculty metric is a matter of personal preference and for those students who excel in lecture hall environments, you may not need the low Student/Faculty ratio.

      The lowest Student/Faculty ratio for online MBA programs is 0.06 compared to the highest online Student/Faculty ratio of 19.64. The combination of cutting-edge eLearning platforms and innovative Blackboard courses make the online experience a rewarding one for prospective business students. The Student/Faculty ratio comes down to personal preference. For a B-Student interested in networking with professors and fellow students via a cohort style classroom environment, it’s best to look for programs with lower Student/Faculty ratios. If you don’t mind the lecture hall environment, then a higher Student/Faculty ratio may be a suitable option for the prospective MBA applicant.

      Campus Student/Faculty Ratio

      • Best MBA Student / Faculty Ratio: 0.05
      • Worst Student / Faculty Ratio: 19.64
      • Average Student / Faculty Ratio: 2.89

      Online Student/Faculty Ratio

      • Best Student / Faculty Ratio: 0.06
      • Worst Student / Faculty Ratio: 19.64
      • Average Student / Faculty Ratio: 2.93

      Campus Student/Faculty Ratio

      • Best MBA Student / Faculty Ratio: 0.05
      • Worst Student / Faculty Ratio: 19.64
      • Average Student / Faculty Ratio: 2.89

      Online Student/Faculty Ratio

      • Best Student / Faculty Ratio: 0.06
      • Worst Student / Faculty Ratio: 19.64
      • Average Student / Faculty Ratio: 2.93

      Master the MBA Application Process in Six Steps

      The MBA application process is a lengthy one, comprising several important steps. Each B-School has their own evaluation process but few deviate from requiring an application, GMAT Scores, undergraduate/graduate transcripts, letters of recommendation and an updated resume. An applicant’s previous coursework and GMAT score(s) are considered to be the most important factors when determining an admissions decision. To get an idea on how to boost your credentials as an applicant, what B-Schools look for in an applicant, and how to master each step of the admissions process, here’s a breakdown of the application process:

      Understand What MBA Schools Look for in Applicants

      As a prospective B-Student, there’s a host of required application materials needed to complete your admissions file (undergraduate transcripts, GMAT scores, personal statement, interview results, etc.). A B-School admissions committee will look at all factors when making a final decision on acceptance – the two most important being undergraduate record and GMAT score. If you happen to be a strong student in any undergraduate major and you crushed the GMAT, you will have ample opportunity to attend an elite B-School. With that being said, some AACSB-accredited online business schools may require prerequisite coursework in statistics, economics, business law, finance, and accounting.

      A business school admissions team has one job: to select a class of strong students most likely to success as B-Students. Students with extensive coursework in business administration will most likely have a leg up applicants with liberal arts undergraduate degrees, such as English or History. A strong performance in one’s undergraduate business major, most of the time, translates into success as a B-Student. Still, given the versatility of an MBA program, it may not matter at all what your major was in college as long as you received a broad, well-rounded education in which you developed quantitative and analytical skills. The great part about an MBA: it will only enhance your analytical skill set and provide you with the necessary tools to grow in any industry.

      What is the MBA Application Process

      • Register and Prep for the GMAT – One of the first steps in the business school application process is to prepare for the GMAT (or GRE, though I strongly recommend the GMAT) because most students require at least 3-6 months of preparation to achieve their full potential on the exam.
      • Analyze your Strengths as an MBA Student – Your MBA application is your chance to share yourself with the admissions committee and convince them that you are an ideal fit for their school. To do this, you need to reflect on who you are personally, professionally, and academically. This step in the business school application process is often overlooked but is one of the most crucial for success.
      • Reach out to Your Recommenders – You will want to connect with possible recommenders well in advance of the application deadlines in order to reinforce these relationships and ensure that these individuals know you well so that they may provide the strongest possible recommendation.
      • Finalize School Selection and Map Out Deadlines – When you first considered getting an MBA, you a myriad of schools may have appealed to you. Once you take the GMAT, develop your admissions strategy, and research each school as it relates to your long term goals, you should finalize the list of schools to which you will apply. Your list of 4 to 8 schools should include stretches, targets, and safeties.
      • Fill any gaps in your resume – As you review your resume, note any “gaps,” that could threaten to weaken your application. For example, perhaps you have 3 years of work experience, but very few activities outside work. In the coming months, you should deepen your extracurricular work by taking on leadership positions that will offer you the chance to positively impact your community.
      • Consider getting expert help on your applications – You will spend over $200,000 on your MBA when you consider tuition and living costs as well as the opportunity costs of not working for two years. Spending a few thousand dollars to work with a true MBA admissions expert, who can substantially increase your chances of getting into the school of your dreams, is likely a very wise investment.

      Conquer the GMAT

      The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized examination that is used by online B-Schools to assess their applicant pool. The test is strategically designed to measure an applicant’s analytical, verbal, writing and mathematical skills. The GMAT is used as a predictor of success in B-School and tests one’s ability to successfully handle the advanced quantitative and qualitative study of business and management.

      Selecting the right applicants for an online MBA program is no easy task. Most AACSB-accredited B-Schools require a Bachelor’s degree (in any discipline), a competitive GMAT Score, and a few years of professional experience. With applicants from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds, admissions departments need at least one form of assessment that is the same for every candidate, thus the GMAT. More than 1,500 institutions in 83 countries use the GMAT as part of the selection criteria for more than 4,800 programs, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

      Fill in the Resume Gaps

      Just imagine for a second being on an admission board for a business school and your responsibility is to offer acceptance based on academic credentials and GMAT scores. These two metrics are certainly important and without them, it would be tough to determine scholastic capabilities in graduate school. But is would be difficult to foresee an applicant’s performance as a B-Student based on solely on two metrics. This is why it’s so important to look at an applicant’s overall achievements prior to rendering an admissions decision. Would you give an applicant who held a part-time job working in an accounting firm while finishing their undergrad degree a slight edge over a applicant with better grades? Or would you consider an applicant’s ability to hold down a job while attending school full time a clear indication of future B-school success? Imagine if an applicant with average GMAT score completed highly coveted summer internships at Fortune 500 companies. Would they be a stronger applicant than the prospective B-Student with no professional experience but received a top 10% score on the GMAT?

      Professional experience certainly gives you an edge as a B-School applicant. It shows not only your dedication as a business professional; but more importantly, highlights your work ethic. It’s not easy to maintain solid grades and test scores while working a part-time job or a summer internship. You greatly increase your chances of acceptance with professional experience in your respective field. If the admissions department can clearly see your career path and how an MBA would contribute to your profession, the better chance you have on receiving that acceptance letter.

      Write a Killer MBA Admissions Essay

      1. Explain Why You’ll Succeed as a B-Student: In your essay, paint a clear picture as to why you would be an excellent fit for their MBA program. Let the admissions department know what prompted your decision to pursue an MBA and how it would affect your career. Talk about:
      • How your career path aligns with the MBA curriculum
      • How your professional and academic credentials are a difference maker
      • Why you are interested in becoming a business leader
      • How the program is relevant to your respective industry
      1. Showcase Your Achievements Strategically: Whether it’s graduating Summa Cum Laude in Business Administration or being the fastest promoted employee to management at your company, illustrate your accomplishment inside the classroom and inside the boardroom. Talk about:
      • Describe your stand-out performances
      • Performance metrics that differentiated you from peers
      • What your set of skills brings to an MBA program
      1. Discuss Why Now is the Right Time for an MBA: B-School admissions departments want students that have a clear focus. An applicant that understands the benefits of an MBA and how it could improve their professional goals is an ideal candidate for admissions. Talk about:
      1. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. How can an MBA help you become a better business leader
      2. How can an MBA improve your current position and make you attractive for promotion
      3. What set of skills do you bring to the table. How will they impact your fellow classmates
      4. What is your ultimate game plan. Describe your five year plan, post MBA graduation.

      How to Nail Your MBA Admissions Interview

      Simply stated, you need to explain why you want an MBA and what you can offer the program. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, if you’re pursuing an MBA in the hopes of figuring out what you want to do in life, you may not be the best fit. B-School admissions departments are looking for students who can apply real world professional experiences to their studies. B-Students are asked to consistently read about real world case studies and apply it to their own professional experiences. In order to become a better problem solver, decision maker, and team leader, B-Students must analyze their own professional experiences but learn from their fellow peers. A great B-School interview addresses some of the shortcomings of their professional career and how an MBA can rectify these areas. The applicant should also address their career aspirations and how an MBA can fulfill their ultimate goal.

      5 Things You Need to Knew Before Entering B-School

      How to Make the Most of Your MBA Program

      If you make the most out of your time as an MBA student, doors will open prior to graduation. During your program, you’ll have the opportunity to network with academics and industry professionals dedicated to their craft. Whether it’s your Accounting professor (who happens to be a CPA) or your Digital Marketing graduate assistant (who happens to own an advertising agency), business school teachers are at the forefront of their industry. They not only have connections in your respective field but know exactly how to reach the top. In other words, they have a pulse on the latest trends and they have the tools you need to make it in your chosen field.

      Top Ways Professors Can Help Advance Your Career

      Highly competitive B-Schools recruit part-time and full-time professors that usually have a mix between academic and professional experience. They are the subject matter experts in their respective field and most of the time, industry influencers. Most business professors have experienced success in the corporate world and have written extensively in their chosen field. The number of highly-qualified full-time professors is usually an indication of how strong the MBA program, online or traditional.

      As a B-Student, you should seek programs that hire industry influencers and academics who are on the front lines of their respective industry. Researching professor bios, academic credentials, published work, and their professional history is a great way to determine if your MBA programs hires quality faculty. You will find that most have worked for Fortune 500 companies, have experience as consultants, or have found success as entrepreneurs. This creates invaluable networking opportunities inside and outside the classroom.

      Tips On Building a Powerful Resume While Attending B-School

      Simply put, the best resumes have little to no career gaps and strategically highlight a person’s dedication to a particular profession. You want to clearly show a B-School admissions department how their MBA can bring your career to the next level. As a sales professional, your resume should follow the progression from an entry-level sales position to an Assistant Manager role in a certain time frame. The next logical step would be a Sales Manager/Group Manager position and the analytical skills learned from a high-quality MBA program would help push you the next level. As an aspiring accountant, for example, your resume should show your progression from account receivables clerk to senior accountant. The admissions department, by way of your application, should know that you’re pursuing the CPA designation and your goal is to become an Accounting Manager at your firm.

      Zero in on Your Target Concentration

      Once again, there is nothing wrong with trying out multiple professions before making a final decision on your long-term career goals. Holding positions in various business sectors can usually makes for a well-rounded employee capable of adapting to change. Most startups like employees with experience in various business functions: marketing, accounting, sales, and operations. It adds value to a company requiring their employees to wear multiple hats. With that being said, if your resume depicts a person who is a Jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, you want to indicate in your B-School essay/personal statement the reason behind your career choices. Prior to spending thousands of dollars on an MBA, you should have a firm understanding on how a graduate degree in business can help you reach the next level of your career.

      • Explore Other Master Degrees – If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree in order to become a better leader and manager, you might also consider a Master in Organizational Leadership program. This type of degree will give you experience in HR Management, Business Ethics, Economics, Organizational Change, and Corporate Communications. If you’re bent of following a specific career path, like accounting, it may be better to concentrate your course of study with a Master’s in Accounting. With that being said, an MBA will provide you a broad range of managerial coursework that may be beneficial if you see leadership positions in your future.
      • Know Your Future – Understanding your professional goals is one of the key steps prior to pursuing your MBA. Where do you see yourself after you graduate? What type of company would you like to work for? By looking at your ideal future, it may help you realize what degree you need in order to get there. Come up with a five year plan of attack and see what steps are needed to fulfill your goals.

      Explore Accredited MBA Concentrations.

      How and When to Tap into Your Alumni Network

      Networking is a critical component to career success, but it should be done properly in order to build mutually useful relationships and benefit from plentiful opportunities. This is especially important when reaching out to your Alumni network for job placement.

      Outside of having the MBA credential under your belt, the next most important resource is your sphere of influence. It’s who ya know. Thankfully, most accredited B-Schools provide a career network service designed to help current students get a foot-in-the-door by contacting alumni. B-Schools usually keep in touch with alumni and keep a directory of corporation that currently employ previous MBA graduates. This information is usually available through social media sites like LinkedIn (if your B-School has a difficult time updating the whereabouts of its graduates).

      In most cases, Alumni are more than happy to offer their services by giving an information interview to students who aims to follow in their footsteps in order to talk about the graduate’s work, how they started out and how their career has developed. They understand that they were once in their shoes and any connection in the field may turn into an opportunity.

      Work shadowing, which involves spending a day or more following and observing the graduate as they go about their day-to-day work, is a common practice in the corporate world. Work shadowing is the best way to gain a deep understanding of the job. A few alumni are also ready to help students from their school who have applied for employment in their company by preparing them for the job interview and giving them valuable knowledge of the company background

      List of Campus and Online MBA Programs

          • The Number of MBA Schools on-campus MBA Concentrations: 519
          • The number of MBA Schools with Online MBA Concentrations offered: 173

      Whether you want to attend an online Executive MBA program, a traditional on-campus full-time program, or a part-time hybrid between online and on-campus classes, your choice are plentiful. In order to stay competitive, MBA schools offer their MBA programs with a variety of scheduling options and in flexible formats. There are 519 on-campus MBA programs in the U.S. compared to 173 online MBA programs. Traditional on-campus programs may offer the option to take a few online business courses while the flexible online program may have a residency requirement for its B-Students. Only you can determine your preferred learning style, whether or not to attend full-time or part-time, and what type of classroom experience you are best suited for.