Study MBA

Listed below are some of the top ranking businesss chools in the USA which draw hordes of foreign students to their campuses each year.
  • Columbia Business School , Columbia University (USA)
  • J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University (USA)
  • Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago (USA)
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Business Administration (USA)
  • Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota (USA)
  • The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
  • Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA (USA)
Choosing a course
It's never been easier to find an MBA programmethat fits your particular lifestyle. Busy executives, stay-at-home parents, and mid-career employees are all benefiting from the intense competition among business schools that has led to a dizzying array of choices, including full- or part-time programmes, executive and Internet formats. Increasing array of options Not long ago, pursuing an MBA usually meant putting career plans on hold and plunging into an intense, two-year programme based on a college campus.
While that approach works well for recent college graduates who aren't tied down with kids or careers, it isn't practical for a working mother or a mid-career employee eager to advance within the same company. Today, business schools that are trying to keep up with the competition are going out of their way to make it easier for prospective students to join an MBA programme. Students can study part time while continuing to work, and they can take their courses over the Internet or at a community centre around the corner from their office. In some cases, they can even receive an MBA, tailored to their particular job, without leaving the workplace.
Why the proliferation of MBA types?
For one thing, businesses that are expanding into the global arena need more employees with advanced skills. Eager to attract the growing number of MBA candidates to their campuses, business schools are customising their programmes to students' needs and carving out niches that set them apart from the competition. Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, for instance, is offering two new MBAs this year in engineering and educational leadership. Other schools offer hybrid programmes in areas as diverse as health care and entertainment.
The bottom line is that there's never been a better selection of MBA programmes, but picking the right one requires plenty of homework. It helps to investigate the programmes carefully. Just because an MBA programme is offered online doesn't mean you can earn your degree without ever leaving home. Many programmes require students to converge on campus for up to several weeks a year so that their contact with professors and classmates isn't entirely in cyberspace. And while a working mother might jump at the chance to pursue a part-time MBA, she might regret the decision if her schedule leaves her stressed and exhausted.
Here's an overview of the options. The full-time MBA A traditional full-time programme usually takes two years to complete, but some can be finished in a year. Sceptics question whether one year is long enough to learn the skills required of an MBA. One thing you can count on if you opt for a one-year programme is an intense and rigorous year. When you enrol in a full-time programme, you can focus on your studies and not worry about balancing school work and a career. The result, according to many business educators, is that students who start with a full-time programme are less likely to drop out. Some argue that you get the best selection of faculty members and courses. And with more and more business schools requiring team projects, a campus-based programme makes it easy to get together. But full-time study isn't for everyone. Chances are, you'll have to give up your job or defer your career, which may be tough if you have a mortgage to cover or a family to support. You're also less likely to have classmates who have spent significant time in the workplace.
The part-time MBA Part-time programmes, which account for about two-thirds of all MBA enrolment, offer you a chance to continue working or spending more time with family while you pursue your MBA. Part-time programmes typically take three or four years, and classes are often offered in the evenings or at weekends. Many participants are working adults who are highly motivated and bring interesting insights to class discussions. Part-time programmes offer the only avenue for many students to pursue an MBA. But while they welcome the flexibility, these students experience greater dissatisfaction, according to some reports.
The problems they cite include the fact that it's harder than most people realise to combine MBA studies and work, and that they often have fewer classes and professors to choose from, especially for evening programmes. It's easier to succeed if you have your employer's support. Most employers would rather have a valued employee pursue a part-time MBA and stay on the payroll than stop work altogether to study full time. When employees take time off for full-time programmes, they often ditch their employers and move on to another job. The executive MBA Older students with more work experience are often drawn to executive programmes, which generally take two to three years to finish. .
Students are usually grouped as a cohort, taking classes together on a regular schedule, such as every other Friday and Saturday. Many business schools are also allowing executive MBA students to do more of their work over the Internet. Ever mindful of the growing competition from corporate MBA providers, a number of business schools are tailoring their programmes to meet the needs of a specific company or division of a company. The distance-learning MBA One of the hottest and most controversial growth areas for MBAs is the distance programme, which allows students to earn their degrees by correspondence and over the Internet.
Students who are disciplined and who need a flexible study schedule because of work or family commitments are flocking to these programmes. Although many business educators complain that Internet-based MBAs can't possibly offer the same quality of instruction as classroom-based programmes, more and more universities are beginning to offer them. Some intensive distance-learning MBAs can be completed in as little as a year, while others take up to seven years. Many take from two to five years, depending how much time you can afford to spend and how quickly you progress. Because most online programmes are very new, you should ask a lot of questions before signing on with one.
Study options at a glance 
Full-time MBA Duration: one or two years Pros:
  • complete the degree more quickly
  • avoid the distractions of working while earning the degree
  • enjoy a wide selection of professors and classes
  • organise team projects more easily Cons
  • may have to give up job or postpone career
  • less flexibility in scheduling
Part-time MBA Duration: three or four years Pros:
  • flexible schedule allows you to work and spend more time with family
  • classmates tend to be older, working adults who offer valuable insights Cons
  • easy to become overwhelmed if combining with career and family
  • takes longer to complete the degree
  • may have fewer professors and classes to choose from
Executive MBA Duration: two or three years Pros:
  • employer typically pays for it
  • customised to your job or profession
  • allows you to expand your business network Cons
  • can be stressful if combined with a full-time job
Distance-learning MBA Duration: from one to seven years Pros:
  • maximum flexibility; can work at home or on the road
  • can work at your own pace Cons
  • little or no face-to-face contact with professors and classmates o requires plenty of self-discipline
  • programmes are less likely to be nationally accredited
  • schools that have invested heavily in new technology and faculty training may charge higher rates for these programmes
How to apply
There are dozens of high-quality MBA programmes that provide an excellent education and will boost your job prospects - but thousands of other applicants are also trying to get into them. In fact, applications to the world's leading programmes are currently at an all-time high. Here's how to maximise your chances of being selected. Most applicants want to get into the highest-quality programme possible: the better the programme, the more likely the graduate is to command a high salary, have a wide range of career choices, and so on.
Some prospective students are limited to those programmes located in the city where they currently live or work, but others can travel the country or the world in search of the programmes that best suit their needs. The typical student will apply to up to a dozen schools, and since leading programmes may accept only one in 10 or 15 applicants, applying to a range of schools makes sense. Along with the increase in applications has come an increase in the sophistication and complexity of the application process. Application forms have become lengthy and involved
In addition, you'll need to take tests such as the GMAT, arrange recommendations and complete interviews - all well in advance of the programme's start date.
Given the level of competition and the desirability of getting into the best possible programme, you should take the process very seriously indeed. You'll need to plan your approach carefully.
How do schools decide?
Schools look for candidates who will be successful corporate (and non-profit) executives, civic leaders and entrepreneurs.
Given a certain baseline of achievement, they will look at far more than your undergraduate grades or GMAT score, because these are simply inadequate predictors of leadership, teamwork, and other critical skills. In fact, schools use all of the information they receive, including the essays you write, the recommendations submitted on your behalf and the results of the application interviews, to determine whether you will be successful in the business school environment and in your post-MBA career.
Schools' assessment criteria generally fall into four categories:
  • intellectual ability,
  • managerial potential,
  • personal attributes (such as integrity, determination and so on) and
  • a sensible career plan.
The criteria trade-off The question inevitably arises: how do admissions staff determine who gets in, given that some applicants have outstanding job records but unimpressive grades and GMAT scores, whereas other applicants have the reverse set of strengths and weaknesses? There is no set answer,but bear in mind - Schools will value criteria differently depending upon the applicant. For example, if you've worked for only three years, your undergraduate record, extracurricular activities and GMAT score will count very heavily because your work experience is too slight to provide much information.
By contrast, if you have ten years of work experience, you can expect that less weight will be placed on academic measures. Presenting your case Presentation matters for several reasons. You have the opportunity to colour the interpretation of all of the objective data by explaining the context and how all the different pieces fit together. In addition, sharp admissions officers will cross-check your essays' assertions, for example, with what you say (and how you say it) in your interviews, to get as honest a picture of you as possible. So make sure you present complete, consistent information.
Your presentation will also provide important additional data for the admissions decisions. The essays reveal your writing skills and your ability to sustain a tightly reasoned argument. The recommendations reveal the extent to which you've impressed some of the most important people with whom you have worked and studied.
The interviews reveal not only your oral communication skills but also your presence and other important leadership attributes. Masterful marketing The starting point for marketing yourself is to learn as much as possible about the programmes that are best suited to your needs: to market yourself effectively, you need to know what the relevant schools want in their candidates. There are a number of sources for this information. Some schools have recently taken to posting brief cvs of their students on their websites so you can see how you compare. Effective marketing requires that you maximise your strengths while minimising your weaknesses, and show that you will fit in at the school while also standing out as a unique individual. Applicants from traditional pre-MBA backgrounds, such as accountants or management consultants, will face one set of marketing challenges while those from non-traditional backgrounds, such as journalists or doctors, will face a completely different set.
But no matter what your background, effective marketing will give you the chance to get into a better school than your credentials might otherwise warrant. So, take advantage of this opportunity by taking the trouble to make sure all the elements of your applications are spot-on. Essays The essay questions that are set by the schools themselves are the heart of the application. They are designed to find out who you are, what you have accomplished, why you want an MBA and where you are headed.
If you intend to rely on your numbers - GMAT score, undergraduate record, salary and so on - to gain admission, you will be missing out on an opportunity to improve your chances dramatically. In fact, the better the school, the more likely it is that the objective data in your application will not determine your fate, and that the essays in particular will weigh more heavily in the decision. Schools pose a wide range of essay questions. The most popular include:
  • What are your most substantial accomplishments?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What have you done to help an organisation change?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What are your goals for the future and how can an MBA help you to reach them?
  • Why have you chosen this programme?
Admissions officers will judge you on what your essays reveal about your writing ability (including your ability to persuade, to structure and maintain a well-reasoned argument, and to communicate in an interesting and professional manner), your honesty and maturity, your uniqueness, and your understanding of what the programme offers and requires, and how well you would contribute to it. Recommendations Schools generally ask for recommendations from two people. It's usually best to obtain both recommendations from business bosses or colleagues, who can address most of the key issues, rather than from former professors, who can seldom add much to the picture that emerges from your university transcript.
There are three rules for choosing recommenders
  • Choose people who know you well. Don't choose people who are famous or important if they won't be able to discuss your candidacy and performance in detail. Instead, choose people who can make the recommendation credible by illustrating their points with anecdotes that show you at your best.
  • Choose people who genuinely like you - they will take the time to write a polished, carefully thought-out recommendation
  • Choose people who can address one or more of the key subjects: your brains, your managerial potential, your personal attributes or your career plan.
It's often worthwhile scheduling a formal meeting with your recommenders and providing them with written information about your goals or reminders of your accomplishments. You should explain why you are seeking an MBA, why you have selected the schools you have and your strategy. Then, give them a bullet-point outline of what you want discussed, including the examples that you think best demonstrate your capabilities and performance. Interviews Interviews offer schools the chance to learn much more about you. Some things are not readily determinable without a face-to-face meeting, such as your appearance, charm, persuasiveness, presence and business sense. Interviews also provide an opportunity to probe areas insufficiently explained in the application. Many schools interview most or all of the applicants they are seriously considering. There are several reasons for this. One is that the greater emphasis upon soft skills in MBA programmes means that an applicant's personality and social skills are more important than they were in the past. Also, a person's interviewing capability is a very good indicator of how attractive he or she will be to employers at the end of the MBA.
Lastly, schools can market themselves better by meeting with applicants on an individual basis.
This is particularly relevant for the elite schools, which tend to feel that they are all chasing the same few outstanding candidates. The application timetable Start the application process as early as possible. Most applicants underestimate the amount of time that a good application requires, thinking that they can do one in a long weekend or two. The reality is that many of the necessary steps have a long lag built into them. For example, approaching a recommender, briefing him or her on what you want done and allowing the time to write a recommendation calls for months rather than days of advance notice. This is even more important when you apply to several schools rather than one; you have more application forms to complete, more essays to write, and more recommendations to source. Starting the application process late, or failing to approach it sensibly, leads to a last-minute rush and, inevitably, a poor marketing job.
The application process should therefore start well over a year in advance of when you would like to start business school.
If you wish to start a programme in September, you should start serious work in June of the preceding year. Another reason for getting such an early start is that schools generally require that applications be submitted from three to eight months in advance of the start of the programme. Apply as early in each school's application cycle as you can, unless you expect your credentials to improve dramatically in the midst of the application period - if you expect a promotion, consider waiting until it occurs before submitting your application.
Succeeding in the MBA application process requires strategic thinking, sound planning, organisational skill, persuasive ability and lots of hard work - in other words, it's good training for the MBA itself!
It pays to differentiate yourself somehow and we are particularly keen to hear how a candidate overcame an obstacle or realised an achievement despite adversity. All in all, we are looking for a candidate to provide evidence that they will contribute to the interactive learning environment, be an outstanding team player, have the potential for success in their chosen career, and have a commitment to their professional development.' The value of recommendations Recommendations are vital to your marketing effort. They show admissions committees that:
  • your claims are true - they confirm and support your position
  • you have many qualifications - your recommenders can emphasis qualities you have mentioned in your application or describe additional capabilities
  • your managerial skills are up to scratch - getting others to write about you is a test of your abilities as a persuader (and manager)
  • you can accurately evaluate others perceptions of you.
If you choose someone who writes a mediocre recommendation, your judgment will be questioned, at the very least.
Preparing for the interview
Establish your objectives. These are likely to include making a good impression, conveying your strengths and explaining what you could potentially bring to a programme.
  • Know the programme and the school. Are they appropriate for you? Do not simply hope to survive the interview; be determined to achieve positive results.
  • Prepare for the most likely questions. In particular, be ready to explain why you want an MBA, why you want it now, why you want to attend the school and what you can contribute to the programme.
  • Listen to your interviewer. Pick up clues as to what he or she values. Tuning in to what your interviewer values will help you to establish a rapport.
  • Be ready to ask questions. The school wants to see that you are curious and enthusiastic about its programme.
  • Practise. Undertake mock interviews with friends who are applying to similar programmes. Consider interviewing first with the schools that matter least to you in order to gain experience and confidence for your most critical interviews.
Trends in the sphere of MBA
Business experts believe the Internet revolution will have far-reaching effects on the way businesses operate. Mastering business is what MBAs are all about and courses on entrepreneurship and e-business are a logical development. As a result, more MBA graduates are equipped to start their own e-business and many do so while still studying. North America leads the world Top business schools are already offering modules in entrepreneurship and e-business, either as electives or as part of their standard MBAs.
USA is one of the world leaders in e-business. So it's no surprise to find that their MBA programmes reflect this lead. As a result, entrepreneurship MBAs worldwide are usually based on the American model, and many are offered in partnership with US institutions. The Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, for example, has MBA links with Southeast Asia, China, Russia, Africa and Europe. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, US business schools expect their students to start their own e-business as a normal result of their course, and they demonstrate this expectation by not assisting their graduates to find employment - they don't think it necessary.
As North America leads the way in Internet communication, the English language dominates e-business. To exploit a global market, therefore, e-businesses must expect to do much of their trade in English, regardless of where they're based. As a result, most MBAs covering entrepreneurship offer the option of studying a significant amount of the course in English New course content Designed to expose students to new business opportunities, MBAs now make certain careers possible that were not previously available.'Over 50% of companies now have some interest in using the Internet to reach new customers,' s. .
E-commerce should not be considered as a discipline in its own right, but rather as the backdrop for everything else. Once the glamour rubs off, people will consider it as part of the standard way to do business.' Incubation and funding Course providers are well aware that MBA students who do set up dot com businesses while studying need financial backing. Numerous course providers - including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford among many in the US, have set up incubators which provide access to third-party capital funding.
The future of MBAs
Many trend indicators suggest that the market share for e-businesses will grow to 30-40% over the next five years. Indicators further suggest that Internet connection will become accepted as a basic utility. Mike Jones, Director General of the Association of MBAs (AMBA), comments that 'as the e-revolution gathers pace, we will see MBAs looking to hone their entrepreneurial skills in high-tech and other start-up ventures.' As a result, many students will graduate not only with an MBA but with a fully-functioning e-business - a significant head-start on a new-economy career.
The MBA is valuable because it provides general business skills, as well as offering electives to cover the one or two areas particular to an e-business. On a practical level, we wouldn't have been able to set up E-CoConsulting without support from EAP. They provided a room, computer access, phone support - everything we needed.' Staying on Debt-ridden and over-worked MBA students run the risk of being tempted away from study. Dot com companies are keen to attract the management expertise they need and have made tempting offers of well-paid jobs at the cutting edge of the new economy.
'People are being approached,' admits Julia Tyler, MBA Programme Director at London Business School. 'But my experience is that students are aware that finishing their MBA will make them more marketable. After all, the new economy isn't going to go away.' However, a more positive recruitment approach has been adopted by some in e-commerce. Building ties with students early on in their courses gives a company more choice on graduation. The e-commerce effect In North America, as business schools compete to convince students that they offer the most cutting-edge curriculum, the e-commerce content is being increased: schools are creating new electives in specialist areas such as e-commerce and the Internet, and integrating online business practice into the core syllabus.
Similar moves are being made in Europe. Schools are also creating opportunities for students to develop their own business plans, including running business-plan competitions. These schools are largely responding to new student demands. But changes are also being driven by traditional recruiters. Companies such as General Electric and Ford are using new technology to integrate their operations with suppliers and retailers and to reach consumers. They will demand that MBA programmes take account of the new requirements. The successful dot coms will also be big recruiters in the next few years.