The Master in Business Administration or MBA as it is popularly known is perhaps the most prestigious and therefore most sought after qualification recognized by employers, introduced first in the US in the early 1900s, its appeal has spread worldwide. In Nigeria alone, there are at least 20 business schools and business facilities of universities offering the MBA degree. However, as with everything in life, not one size fits all. How does one decide where to enroll for an MBA programme or whether to enroll for one at all?
The first thing to consider is how an MBA will advance your career. Clearly the MBA is a postgraduate degree, so it will enhance your CV. It also offers a broad range of skills that employers desire in today’s employees. These include the ability to analyse problems and make optimal decisions, knowledge of general business functions, responsible leadership, communication skills, the ability to think strategically and manage innovation. So to climb the career ladder and boost your earning power, an MBA is a valuable qualification to have.
Other than the vertical progression, an MBA offers you leeway to make a career change. This is one degree that is open to graduate from all academic disciplines. So, if you change your mind about practicing Medicine or Law and want to get into the field of management, or even if you want to manage your hospital or Law firm better, an MBA will give you the knowledge and skills you need to make the career switch or manage your practice more effectively.
You however also have to be sure you are applying to the right business school for the right programme. The basic formats for MBA programmes include full-time, part-time, executive, distance learning and online learning with durations ranging from one to four years. business school admissions personnel are always helpful to explain the various formats of their schools’ offering. The major questions usually have to do with experience requirements, flexibility, duration and fees. Most executive MBA programme participants for instance, have several years of work experience, occupy middle level management positions and will have to combine their work with the programme for a period of two years. The distance learning and online learning options have become quite popular given the flexibility they offer, but are not without their drawbacks, the absence of face-to-face interactions with faculty and course mates can affect motivation and make learning new subjects more daunting and less comprehensive.
Relating to the format is your ability to meet the demands of the programme. An MBA is a highly challenging and rigorous programme that will affect your personal and professional life. Attending classes on weekends or evenings, meeting assignment submission deadlines and studying for exams can put tremendous amounts of pressure on anyone. Choosing full-time format enables you focus on your studies without having to combine it with work, but many people find giving up an income for the required length of the programme too high a price to pay. However , the career fairs, included in some MBA programmes, raise the prospects of clinching a good job at the end of the programme, as they expose full-time MBA participants to some of the best companies in the country.
Also important is the curriculum. Some MBA programmes specialize in certain areas of Management. These days it is not unusual to find an MBA in Sustainability, Project Management, Marketing or Finance. The General Management MBA programmes, however offer all the core management courses such as finance, economics, accounting, marketing, strategy, operations management organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. Further, many programmes also offer a range of elective courses. Deciding what you want to do after the MBA programme should help you choose where to study.
Regarding curriculum also, you may want to consider that employers also look for MBAs with knowledge of the local business environment. More and more business schools are adapting their curriculum to fit the needs of employers who recruit from their MBA classes. So while it may be more practical to earn one from the country or region where you plan to work.
A relevant curriculum can only be brought about by a qualified and expert faculty. Therefore the quality and caliber of the Faculty should be an important consideration in deciding which school to do your MBA.
Finally, relating to finding your post-MBA job, you would want to consider the value of the school’s brand and the networks you could build. Is the school recognized by employers? Is the MBA programme accredited? What sort of people are you likely to meet on the programme and how will they help you build your career? Are the school’s facilities conducive to your learning? Does the school have a strong and active alumni network? Does the school have a career office to help you find the right job to make your sacrifices worthwhile?
Getting an MBA is an investment, and like any investment decision it should be considered prudently. Choosing the right programme will enhance your prospects of completing it on schedule and finding the job afterwards