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Does It Matter Where You Get Your MBA?

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Does it matter where you get your MBA? The short answer is: Yes! 

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular graduate degrees in the world. Business professionals seek this degree to enhance their business and management skills, boost their career prospects, or transition into a new field. With so many business schools and programs available, several factors matter when it comes to where you get your MBA.

First, it must be said that any reputable MBA program must be accredited by organizations such as AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System), or AMBA (Association of MBAs). Accreditation is an independent assessment of an MBA program’s quality and ensures that the program meets rigorous academic standards.  

Attending a top-tier business school can give you significant advantages in terms of reputation, networking opportunities, and access to resources and support. That being said, the value of your MBA degree ultimately depends on your:

  1. goals
  2. priorities
  3. circumstances. 

A more local MBA offering that isn’t ranked with the best, or even attended on a part-time basis will still provide valuable education. A top program isn’t the goal for everyone, but if you want a full-time program that can exponentially accelerate your career, change your function or industry, or relocate to a new region or even abroad, then the leading programs will clearly have an advantage when it comes to the return on investment. 

Why Does it Matter Where I Get My MBA?

It matters where you get your MBA because:

1. Top programs are highly selective. 

Your classmates will be top performers, smart professionals with solid backgrounds in their fields and extensive experience to draw on. MBA curricula emphasize team projects and collaboration, so the caliber of classmates really matters. 

2. Elite employers recruit from the top MBA programs

Employers at the top of popular industries like finance, consulting, marketing, and tech recognize the value of an MBA from a reputable school and are more likely to consider candidates with such credentials. Attending a top school can also provide you with access to influential alumni networks, making it easier to get your foot in many more doors.

3. Where your program is geographically impacts your employment and lifestyle choices

Most business schools, even the most globally recognized programs, have strong regional footprints. If you intend to work in Silicon Valley, then you’re better off attending school in California, but if you want to work in Europe, you’ll have better opportunities if you complete your MBA there. Depending on where you live now, your choice of business school may alter your lifestyle completely. Relocating to a major business hub, such as New York, London, or Hong Kong, can provide excellent networking opportunities and exposure to the latest business trends and practices. However, the cost of living in such cities can be high, and the competition for jobs can be intense.

4. Different schools have different industry strengths

If you are targeting a specific field, then view potential target schools through that lens. Different MBA programs have different focuses, teaching methods, and specializations, and it’s essential to find a program that aligns with your career aspirations. The highest-ranked schools generally feature the most distinguished guest speakers and conduct cutting-edge research in specific sectors, which can help you stay ahead of the curve in your chosen industry.

5. Rankings do, in fact, track closely to salaries

A big part of the ranking process is looking at the outcomes for MBA graduates. Higher-ranked programs offer better job placement rates and higher salary ranges, reflecting both the caliber of the graduates coming out of the program and the elite firms making those hires. While program rank is an indicator of its reputation and prestige, a higher-ranked is associated with rigorous curricula, experienced faculty, and excellent resources, such as career services and networking opportunities. 

6. Diversity of the student body and global footprint influence your future success

Classes at top-tier business schools bring together students from different cultural, social, and professional backgrounds, allowing for a wide range of perspectives and ideas. A broader perspective can lead to more innovative problem-solving, enhanced creativity, and improved decision-making. It’s also important to be prepared for the global nature of today’s business world. Companies need leaders who can work effectively with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and because top schools have long-standing alumni networks extending into every major market worldwide, you are better positioned to be that leader. 

In short, it matters where you get your MBA, but how and why it matters depends entirely on your goals, priorities, and circumstances. Attending a top-tier business school can provide a significant advantage in the job market, but it may not be appropriate for everyone. Ultimately, your dedication, work ethic, and ability to leverage your education and experiences will determine your career trajectory, regardless of whether your degree is written in Latin. 

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.