If you are considering an MBA, you might be trying to figure out the top MBA schools. You might be looking at rankings such as those published by US News and World Report[i]. You might be seeing names like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton (University of Pennsylvania), Sloan (MIT), Kellogg (Northwestern), Columbia, NYU, Fuqua (Duke), UCLA, Kenan-Flagler (UNC), and USC. But how do you determine which of these schools – if any – is the top choice for you?
First, you need to consider what you plan to do with your MBA. If your interests lie in a particular business field you may want to find the top MBA programs with the best course offerings in that area of study – not just the best overall ranking. The same applies to the kind of job you want to have. Those interested in an international career in finance have different educational needs than those seeking a managerial role within another field. Those in the former category will probably benefit most from a high-profile program since they offer some of the best training in the world for these kinds of jobs. Those in the latter category, however, might do just as well at a school with a solid but less prestigious MBA program where they can acquire the kind of business expertise they will need in their work.
You will also want to think about how and where you want to earn your MBA. Some candidates will want to immerse themselves in full-time study; others will prefer to keep working and attend classes on a part-time basis or even online. You’ll need to find the best match for you, both in terms of time and money. Full-time study will probably cost more money in the short term, since you have to pay tuition while having little or no income and may need to relocate. You will be able to finish more quickly, though, and will be able to focus exclusively on your studies rather than having other professional responsibilities at the same time. Alternatively, going to school part-time can keep you from sacrificing income. But, the challenge of balancing work, classes, and personal commitments may not be worth it.
Lastly, you’ll want to think about the overall value of your degree. Depending on your career goals, the investment required to earn an MBA at a school like NYU or Columbia might not be worth it. Of course, the experience of pursuing an MBA in New York City has its own intrinsic value, and if you think you will be able to pay back your loans fairly soon with a substantial salary, you might do well to attend one of these schools. If the starting salary you anticipate upon graduation is relatively modest, however, and you are not especially drawn to the financial center of New York, you might benefit as much from a more moderately priced program in a more affordable part of the country.
Ultimately, the top MBA program for you is the one that best suits your professional goals and your personal needs. There are many good options available, and there is one that is right for you.
Origins of the MBA
Some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the United States played a significant role in the evolution of MBA programs. Many of these programs are considered by some to continue to be the top MBA schools in the world. These schools are often top MBA schools because they have distinguished faculty and alumni, a competitive academic program, and a highly selective admissions process. Exploring the history of these programs give us insight into the overall evolution of the masters of business administration degree.
Academia did not emphasize the importance of formal training of business students until the late 1800’s, up until this point the economy was largely supported by skilled labor, farming, and few services. In the late 1800’s the industrial revolution forever changed the landscape and economy of America, industrial revolution was also instrumental in the development of business theory and in creating a need for skilled managers capable of optimizing processes, managing large scale projects, leading teams, and creating markets for mass produced goods.
Colleges and universities began to develop curriculum to support the training of individuals to help them develop the skills necessary to lead these emerging organizations.
Wharton MBA History
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Wharton MBA program was started in 1921. The Wharton MBA program focused on helping students develop highly specialized skills requiring students to complete original research and a thesis in their selected business concentration. The Wharton MBA is one of the earlier top MBA programs, but more interestingly Wharton was the first school to offer as formal business curriculum in 1881.
Harvard MBA History
In 1908 Harvard Business School welcomed the first official class of students pursuing their masters of business administration MBA. The Harvard MBA program featured a faculty of 15 professors, and 33 full time MBA students.
You may be considering one of these historically renowned MBA programs, with their highly competitive MBA admissions process and high price tags. It can be tricky to determine the best MBA program for you, as this varies by lifestyle, family commitments, finances and more. Be careful to weigh all of your options, and don’t be afraid to reach for the stars!
One of the most enticing aspects of pursuing a degree from a highly renowned MBA program, is the networking and recruitment systems within the program. The MBA job opportunities for qualified graduates from accreddited MBA school may be with some of the most interesting companies in the world.