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Does it Matter Where You Get Your MBA?

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It’s a valid question. It’s true that some employers value MBAs from prestigious business schools and may give preferential treatment to these graduates in the hiring process. Other employers may see these graduates as a potential link for access to influential alumni, mentors, and professional connections from these schools. In other cases, business schools with expertise in relevant fields or specializations matter more to employers than prestige. For example, technology companies may prefer candidates from schools with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Ultimately, choosing an MBA program is about you your unique academic needs and career goals, the type of skills you want to develop, location, cost, and so much more. If you’re ready to choose a master of business administration degree program, don’t limit yourself to the most prestigious schools based on rankings in popular press. Evaluate business schools that have these important qualities and features and include them as possible options.

10 Qualities of a Top MBA Program

While your reasons for pursuing an MBA are subjective, the following are 10 standards and criteria that the best business schools all possess.1,2

  1. Accreditation: MBA programs that are accredited by reputable accrediting bodies such as AACSB, ACBSP, or EQUIS ensure they meet high standards of quality and excellence in business education, enhancing the credibility and value of your degree.
  2. Reputation and Ranking: Find out the reputation of the business school within the industry and among employers and see where it lies in professional ranking lists.
  3. Faculty Quality and Expertise: Research the qualifications, experience, and expertise of the faculty members including whether they are experts in their field or actively engaged in research, consulting, or industry partnerships.
  4. Alumni and Industry Connections: Business schools that have a strong, active alumni network are better positioned to provide mentorships, support, guidance, and career opportunities to successful graduates.
  5. Curriculum and Specializations: The curriculum structure should provide a solid foundation in both core business disciplines and specializations aligned with your interests and career goals. 
  6. Experiential Learning Opportunities: MBA programs that offer internships, consulting projects, or study abroad programs can enhance your practical skills, industry knowledge, and professional network. They can also help you apply theoretical concepts to real-world business challenges.    
  7. Career Services and Placement Support: Does the MBA program offer comprehensive career services, recruiting events, and job placement support? What are the job placement rates? Do they have strong relationships with industry employers? These are all questions you should ask during your inquiries and interviews. 
  8. Global Perspective and Diversity: The business world is a global arena. MBA programs that offer international exposure to multicultural learning environments can enhance your marketability as an employee and prepare you for success in a globalized business environment. 
  9. Leadership and Professional Development: The best MBA programs prepare students to become effective leaders in their chosen fields. They offer professional development resources to help students build essential leadership, communication, negotiation, and interpersonal skills.
  10. Commitment to Continuous Improvement: Leading business schools are committed to continuous improvement in all aspects of their operations, including faculty development, curriculum enhancement, student support services, and community engagement. They strive to maintain their position as business education leaders and stay relevant to changing industry trends, technological advancements, and global challenges.

The Value of Global Exposure

Even if your goal is to work in the United States, an MBA that incorporates global exposure in its program is a huge asset for your career. Look for international student percentages in the business school and for international exposure in their curriculum. International companies operating in diverse markets will prefer MBA candidates who have experience with global business practices, cross-cultural communication, and international networks. International students who want to earn an MBA from a school in the United States, can benefit from meeting and working with Americans and American companies to gain valuable experience that may not be available in their home country.

An MBA program that offers Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is another benefit for international students. CPT provides various work/study options that are an integral part of the MBA curriculum such as internships, cooperative education, and required internships or practicums connected to their fields of study. Since international students are required to either be in school or working while they stay in the United States, an MBA program that offers CPT helps ensure they can complete their master’s program without interruptions.

Earning an MBA from Alliant International University

With its emphasis on a global perspective, the California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) at Alliant International University offers opportunities for all MBA students to learn about international business practices, cross-cultural communication, and global trends that can help prepare graduates for careers in global markets. Alliant also has a reputation for its diverse, international student body, allowing interactions with various cultural backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences both in and out of the classroom. This can enhance your learning experience, broaden your worldview, and prepare you to work effectively in diverse teams and multicultural environments.

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CSML at Alliant has many advantages for international students looking to earn their MBA in the United States. CSML allows its international students to engage in their CPT from day one of the MBA program (otherwise known as Day One CPT). This dynamic, hands-on training program is designed specifically for international students who can choose to work either part-time or full-time alongside their studies. This helps them acquire valuable practical work experience while pursuing their education, offering a clear path for professional growth.

CSML also has international student ambassadors and the International Student Service Office (ISSO) to provide additional services and guidance for international students. The ISSO also serves as a liaison to organizations sponsoring international students and to U.S. government agencies.

MBA Program Highlights:

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  • Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • An executive-in-residence structure that matches you with an executive who will mentor and guide you in professional experience and development 
  • Specializations in management and leadership, marketing and digital trends, information systems and technology, or hospitality management
  • Practical training throughout the program that starts on day one 
  • Faculty with industry experience who are practitioners and experts in their fields
  • Small class sizes for more personalized attention and a supportive learning environment

How to Stand Out to a Prospective Business School

Entering an MBA program is the beginning of a long, beneficial partnership between you and the business school. Having intellectual curiosity and a willingness to explore new ideas, concepts, and perspectives are essential and desirable skills of an MBA candidate regardless of their professional and personal background or business experience.3,4,5,6 Additional qualities that business schools want include:

  • Strong analytical and quantitative skills
  • Effective, professional communication skills 
  • Leadership potential
  • Successful collaboration skills and the ability to work constructively in teams
  • Adaptability, resilience, and the ability to embrace new challenges
  • Ethical integrity and a commitment to ethical leadership and decision-making
  • A global mindset and awareness, with an appreciation for cultural diversity, cross-cultural competence, international business practices, and global trends

Getting Started on Your MBA Application

You’ve made your final school choices, reflected on your career goals and motivations for pursuing an MBA, and determined that you have the qualities business schools want. Now it’s time to move forward with your applications through these steps.

  1. Prepare for and complete any required standardized tests
  2. Gather application materials (e.g., transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters, resumé/CV, and supplemental materials)
  3. Write compelling personal statements or essays that highlight your career goals, experiences, achievements, strengths, challenges, and reasons for pursuing an MBA, as well as demonstrating how you fit with the school
  4. Prepare for MBA interviews by researching each school’s interview format, expectations, and common interview questions

Is Getting an MBA Worth It?

The worth of an MBA depends on your career goals, desired professional industry, and individual circumstances. There are many examples of individuals who created successful businesses with nothing more than a dream and determination. However, for most people, an MBA program provides essential business knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Earning an MBA can also enhance career prospects, deliver valuable networking opportunities, and bolster your credibility and job marketability. If you’re still wondering whether you should earn an MBA, asking yourself these questions may help you come to a final decision:

  1. Will earning an MBA help me achieve my overall career goals? 
  2. Is the return on investment (ROI) worth the cost of tuition, fees, and other expenses?
  3. Will an MBA increase my earning potential?
  4. Will earning an MBA give me a competitive edge in the job market or position me for advancement?
  5. Will I have access to a strong and supportive network of classmates, faculty, alumni, and industry professionals who can provide mentorship, career guidance, and job leads?
  6. Are there alternative paths that can offer me similar benefits or opportunities without requiring an MBA?
  7. Will earning an MBA align with my lifestyle, values, priorities, and work or family obligations?

Where you earn your MBA can play a significant factor in your career but beyond that, employers are ultimately looking for candidates who can demonstrate their value, capabilities, and potential contributions to their organization. Candidates with strong academic performance, relevant work experience, leadership abilities, and interpersonal skills may stand out regardless of where they earned their MBA. Whatever you decide, solidify your goals, trust your instincts, do your research, and you’ll make the right decision. Remember, the best business school is the one that is the right fit for you.

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