Important Factors To Consider When Choosing Your MBA Provider
The decision to study an MBA is not one that is made with ease, and neither is choosing your MBA provider. With so many higher education institutions now offering the MBA, what is it that you, as a prospective student, should be looking for? The list below discusses some of the most important factors to consider when making this decision, and provides some guidance in analysing the key areas.
As a graduate of an MBA programme, you want to be assured that your degree is recognised and respected around the world. Regardless of the direction in which you see your career heading, it is always important that your degree is able to be used on a global scale. Accreditation not only ensures that the content you study is relevant, it also means that the programme is of high quality. When choosing your MBA provider, look to their website for a page which lists the accreditations (www.aib.edu.au/accreditation) in order to be sure that they are properly recognised throughout the world.
The MBA is not a degree that comes cheap, however there are options which can ease the process financially. Selected institutions offer Fee-Help (www.aib.edu.au/fee-help) which is an Australian government loan scheme assisting eligible students to pay their tuition fees. In addition, there are vast differences in the course fees which are expected between providers. When choosing your MBA – you must weigh up whether that particular provider is worth several more thousands of dollars per semester, or if they are using their brand name to charge more in fees. Remember, accreditation ensures that you are getting the same high quality education across the board, so if it is not a different education, then ask yourself what are you paying extra for?
The time commitment is a very important factor when choosing your MBA programme. Some courses require you to study full-time on campus for a number of years, which then means that you cannot work throughout that time. Others have a bit more flexibility in their time frame and permit you to study at the times which suit your schedule. For example, the MBA from the Australian Institute of Business (www.aib.edu.au) allows distance learning students to complete the required subjects based upon their commitments. Students can complete the required 12 subjects over a period of three years, or in as little as 12 months.
Practicality and relevance
In today’s fast paced business environment, choosing your MBA should also include an evaluation of the practicality and relevance of the course content. As an MBA graduate, you will be expected to provide guidance in all areas of business, and your advice will only be as good as the content that you have learnt. There are many different learning approaches associated with the MBA, one of which is the work applied learning approach (www.aib.edu.au/our-methodology). Work applied learning allows the content to be applied in the workplace almost instantaneously – it is highly relevant and you are able to identify the connection between the theory and the practice.
The relevance of the course is also influenced by the quality of teaching staff. Many universities employ staff who have a mostly academic background which unfortunately is of little use to a practical MBA course. When subjects are delivered by industry experts who are currently working in the business environment, students gain a much more up-to-date perspective and education. If relevance and practicality is what you are looking for in your MBA, then it pays to do some research into the provider’s teaching staff and content delivery method.
Method that suits your life
The MBA can be delivered via a number of methods including in person on-campus, via distance learning, or a combination of the two. There are also a number of time frames in which the MBA can be studied – some providers deliver it over the space of a few years, and others are able to deliver it over 12 months. The shorter programmes do not mean that you learn less, they are just more intensive and therefore require more of your time per week.
If you are someone who travels frequently for work and needs flexibility, then perhaps choosing your MBA via distance is your best option. On the other hand, if you feel that you need to listen to the information in person, then on-campus may be for you. When choosing your MBA provider, you must sit back and analyse which method is going to work best with your busy lifestyle, as well as the way in which you believe you will learn more efficiently.
Quality of networks
If one of your motivating factors to complete an MBA is to network with industry leaders, then evaluating the quality of the networking opportunities that the provider offers is a necessary step. If it is a local education provider, it is suggested that you research whether they have both a national and global network as well as graduates from other locations. Do they host alumni events and are they committed to investing in their graduate community? These are all questions that you should ask yourself when choosing your MBA provider, and contributing factors which help build a strong network. Building contacts with executives locally, nationally and internationally allows for you to gain a wider perspective of the business environment, as well as build relationships with key people. In my opinion, networking is an invaluable part of the MBA experience, so a strong global network is very important.
What do you think?
Which factors did you consider when choosing your MBA provider? Are there others which I have failed to list in this article? Leave me a comment if you have any further suggestions as I would love to get the views of past, present and future MBA students on this topic.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.