What to con­sider when choos­ing an MBA pro­gramme

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - POSTGRADUATE -

POST­GRAD­U­ATE ed­u­ca­tion is a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of both time and money for in­di­vid­u­als and their em­ploy­ers. Mak­ing the right choice of in­sti­tu­tion and pro­gramme is im­por­tant, but it is also chal­leng­ing, as is in the case of MBAs.

The num­ber of avail­able pro­grammes has grown dra­mat­i­cally; there are now one and two-year pro­grammes, off­line and on­line op­tions, specialist ver­sus gen­eral pro­grammes, stan­dard and ex­ec­u­tive ver­sions, full-time and part-time study as well as do­mes­tic and over­seas op­por­tu­ni­ties.

So what re­ally mat­ters? What fac­tors should you take into con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing an MBA? Ul­ti­mately, you (or your em­ployer) need to think about value – what ben­e­fits does the pro­gramme deliver in re­la­tion to its tu­ition fee and time re­quire­ments? A shorter course may ap­pear cheaper but it is not nec­es­sar­ily a bet­ter choice. An op­tion like part-time study may di­vide up the fi­nan­cial costs of an MBA but re­sult in a longer du­ra­tion of study.

Be­sides this, stu­dents need to con­sider the im­pact of the MBA pro­gramme on their man­age­rial ca­pa­bil­i­ties and per­for­mance. Al­though a sub­jec­tive topic to judge, one can as­sess the MBA based on the cho­sen in­sti­tu­tion’s rep­u­ta­tion, rank­ing, re­ported salary en­hance­ment of grad­u­ates, ac­cred­i­ta­tion and longevity of the pro­gramme.

For ex­am­ple, rank­ings of the MBA — whether spe­cific (like The Econ­o­mist) or generic (QS, Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion) – are a use­ful start­ing point, par­tic­u­larly if you fo­cus on dis­ag­gre­gated in­for­ma­tion. How­ever, bear in mind that MBA rank­ings typ­i­cally only in­clude the top 100 pro­grammes and univer­sity rank­ings. This is less than 10% of uni­ver­si­ties world­wide and may not in­clude in­sti­tu­tions that you have con­sid­ered.

Ac­cred­i­ta­tion is use­ful in­for­ma­tion to use as well. The three main ac­cred­it­ing bod­ies to con­sider are As­so­ci­a­tion to Ad­vance Col­le­giate Schools of Busi­ness (AACSB), As­so­ci­a­tion of MBAs (AMBA) and Euro­pean Qual­ity Im­prove­ment Sys­tem (EQUIS) that lend con­fi­dence to the ex­pected qual­ity lev­els of MBA pro­grammes.

MBA pre­views pro­vide valu­able op­por­tu­ni­ties to as­sess the qual­ity of pro­grammes. You can find out about the staff in­volved, the num­ber of alumni mem­bers and their ca­reer suc­cess. It is also an op­por­tu­nity to find out about the num­ber and qual­ity of stu­dents since you will be learn­ing from each other in your course.

In many re­spects, choos­ing an MBA is like mak­ing an im­por­tant busi­ness de­ci­sion, and a good choice de­pends on your re­search, anal­y­sis and re­source­ful­ness. The in­for­ma­tion you find may not be per­fect but will at least pro­vide you the foun­da­tion to make a good de­ci­sion among the many MBA op­tions avail­able.

Pro­fes­sor Chris­tine En­new is the Provost and CEO of The Univer­sity of Not­ting­ham Malaysia Cam­pus.

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