Education USA @ USIEF
Updated on 28 May, 2018

A Short Guide to Choose the Right MBA Program

An MBA provides a holistic business education and will help develop your business knowledge base as well as help you become an effective communicator and team player. MBA graduates develop strategic problem-solving skills, but they are also taught soft skills and practical business applications in the process, including negotiation skills, communication skills, adaptability and flexibility – all of which are transferable, no matter the industry or position. Earning an MBA is an incredible opportunity and can open many career doors.

If you have decided that an MBA is the best degree to advance your career goals, there are many aspects to consider: When should you apply? Which schools should you apply to? Do you want to be a full- or part-time student?

Who should apply for an MBA and when:

The beauty of the MBA is that it is designed so that individuals from all backgrounds, from engineers to artists to accountants, can learn real-world, strategic business skills to help them advance or pivot their careers. An MBA is a great differentiator for those wanting to move up the ladder and become leaders, upper level management and executives. An MBA would be a good indicator to employers that a job applicant has a breadth of business knowledge and business acumen.

One Year vs. Two Year MBA Programs:

A new dilemma for students on the MBA track is whether to enroll in a one-year or two-year MBA program. More and more U.S. institutions are joining their European peers and offering an alternative to the traditional two-year MBA model. Students may be aware of this “new” format, and it is certainly not one to be overlooked in the MBA research process.

Important parameters to look out for when you select an MBA program:

Length of the program: The traditional MBA programs are two-year in duration. Business Schools are developing MBA programs that can be completed in a shorter period of about one year. Both one-year and two-year have a similar number of credit hours. What differentiates the programs is the schedule, with one year programs holding classes most days of the week, or multiple full days of classes each week, or even holding classes on weekends which allows the curriculum to be covered in one year. Two-year programs will have less classes held each week, and weekends are usually free.

Curriculum: As one-year programs are condensed, a majority of the curriculum is focused on core classes. Core classes are the business fundamentals classes, including Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Data Analytics, and such. Two-year programs will have more time in the schedule for electives, which is beneficial for those wanting to “try on” a variety of fields, or for those wanting to add a specialization. Electives are courses that allow you to delve more deeply into a particular subject and go beyond what is covered in the core classes. For example, students interested in marketing may take an elective course on digital marketing. Two-year programs also allow students to explore experiential learning outside of the classroom. This can take on the form of an internship or getting involved with student groups. Some two-year programs offer additional flexibility in class format, allowing students to take a hybrid of online and in-person courses.

Intensity of the program: A condensed curriculum implies rigor and intensity. One-year programs are extremely demanding, and led in a cohort structure with a set curriculum and schedule which runs the entirety of the year. This structure is intensive, resulting in less time off during the year, and less time for socializing and networking outside of the program. It will require focus and stamina and resilience, which is not lost on many employers who recognize the drive and discipline required to complete such a program.

Time away from work: Besides curriculum, the total cost of tuition and lost wages is another differentiating factor between one and two-year MBAs. When looking at the length of time paying tuition and lost wages, one-year MBAs have the better return on investment. Less time spent away from an industry also means the ability to stay in touch with trends.

Proponents of two-year MBA argue that students lose the experiential learning component of an MBA with a one-year program (in two-year programs, most students hold part-time internships over the summer). While that may be the case for some one-year MBA programs, it’s not the case for all. For instance, a unique component of the University of Colorado Denver’s One Year MBA program is the experiential learning opportunities that are incorporated directly into the curriculum. The schedule each week is arranged such that students can work at a paid internship for about 20 hours of the week while attending classes full-time, giving students the chance to apply their classroom knowledge in the workplace while also earning credit. For international students in the program who are on an F-1 visa, it would be possible to get up to 20 hours of CPT through the internship. An alternative to the internship program is the consulting track, which gives students the opportunity to work on real-world projects for companies.

Competencies, skills developed and opportunities upon completion:

The competencies gained are largely the same between one and two-year programs; perhaps a more significant comparison is between support services offered for professional and career development at each school rather than the comparing the programs themselves. Networking, resume writing, mock interviews and business etiquette should be integrated into an MBA program, whether through a Career Services office or built into the curriculum. Business School Career Services typically organize career fairs specifically for their students and help with introductions to alum and industry partners, in addition to one-on-one coaching sessions. This can often provide the extra edge and preparedness needed to get a leg up on other competing job applicants with MBAs.

Finding the best fit MBA program is a very subjective, thus difficult, decision. Students may initially be drawn to program rankings, but there are many nuances to think about such as program length, cost of tuition, scholarships offered, admission requirements, delivery mode, location (is this a city/state that will offer long-term career opportunities?), flexibility, specializations offered, business connections, internships and professional development to name a few. Decide on the top three priorities to narrow down prospects and start researching early – at the very least one year before the desired program start date. This will also give enough time to prepare for entrance exams and application deadlines, especially programs with early action. Practice for and be prepared to interview. If possible, ask to sit in on lectures and meet with current students to hear about their experience. Both one- and two-year programs result in an MBA and build a strong business foundation.

EducationUSA is a U.S. State Department funded network of advising centers that provide accurate, current and comprehensive information to prospective international students. Through the EducationUSA website, students have access to free and credible information, FAQs To get help with your MBA applications, students can also reach out EducationUSA centers in India and other countries. Locate the closest center on the EducationUSA website

Jeana Delamarter, Assistant Director of Recruiting, University of Colorado Denver Business School

Jeana Delamarter is the Assistant Director of Recruiting at the University of Colorado Denver Business School. After working in international trade and international affairs at the city, state and federal government levels, Jeana found her passion in higher education; first as an international counselor and recruiter for the University of Colorado Boulder, and now as a recruiter for the University of Colorado Denver Business School. She received her BA in Chinese with a Minor in Business Administration at the University of Colorado Boulder and an MBA, Specializing in International Business from the University of Colorado Denver.

Zafeena Suresh, Senior Advisor, EducationUSA @ USIEF, New Delhi. She works to disseminate accurate, current and comprehensive information on U.S. higher education to Indian students and works with U.S. Higher Education institutions to help them internationalize their campuses.

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Education USA @ USIEF

USIEF's EducationUSA Advising Services (EAS) provide accurate, comprehensive and current information to students who are interested in pursuing higher education and scholarships in the U.S. We do not endorse or rank any college or university but guide students in their pursuit of a U.S. degree.


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