How to know which MBA program is right for you

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and head back to school for business. Considering the sizable investment of your time and money that pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will be, you want to be sure to choose an MBA program that best fits your career goals, budget and the amount of time you want to put in.

For residents of southwest Ohio, the area continues to be a hotbed of excellent options, with several area universities ranked in the top 100 for their part-time programs by U.S. News & World Report. Currently at No. 25, Miami University's Farmer School of Business MBA program has been the highest-ranked in the area for the last six consecutive years.  

How do you decide?

Brad Bays, senior director of Miami's MBA program, offers some important things to consider when trying to choose an MBA program that is the right fit for you:

  • Know your "why": For some, getting an MBA has always been a personal goal they've wanted to achieve, without necessarily being tied to any career aspirations. For others, getting an MBA is all about improving performance in their current job, advancing to a higher level job/pay grade, or perhaps completely changing career paths.

For Cindy DeVelvis, digital communications specialist with Dayton Power & Light, getting an MBA was all about career growth. She is currently in her second year of Miami's MBA program.

“I wanted to get my MBA because I felt like, for my long-term career goals, it would be beneficial to fill in the educational gaps with the business classes that I didn’t get with my liberal arts undergraduate degree,” said DeVelvis.

Once you know your “why”, determine which of the following is most important to you:

The cost of attending: Does this fit into your budget? Does your company offer tuition reimbursement? For DeVelvis, a selling point on Miami's MBA program was the fact that books are included in the cost of tuition at Miami, making submitting the bill to her company for tuition reimbursement much easier.

  • Scheduling and convenience: Can you make this work with your current schedule or lifestyle? According to Bays, the majority of people prefer the part-time MBA model over full-time because it meshes better with their schedules and allows them to continue working.
  • Program content and instruction: Does the program's content match what you're looking for or need in order to advance your career?
  • Networking opportunities: Will I acquire contacts and networking opportunities from this program that will help me with my career goals?
  • Reputation

“You can find information on things like cost, scheduling and convenience online, fairly easily,” said Bays. “But for the program content and teaching, which we consider our ‘sweet spot’ at Miami, you’re probably going to need to dig a little deeper by attending on-site information sessions and talking with alumni or current students.”

In her search, DeVelvis talked with friends and co-workers about local MBA programs and decided that, all things considered, Miami was the best fit for her.

“Miami’s reputation for being among the top MBA programs in the country, and the fact that it’s right here in town, was important to me,” said DeVelvis. “Also, I feel like the program is truly tailored toward working adults. They have meals waiting for us so we don’t have to worry about making that extra stop on the way to class.”

But most importantly, with one year under her belt already, DeVelvis feels a great sense of value in the education she’s receiving. “Every class has provided takeaways that have made me better at what I do in my job every day.”