Researching Programs and Schools
There are more than a dozen thousand business schools worldwide. Narrow the field by thoroughly researching the programs of interest to you. Various ranking guides can give you a quick overview of the various programs and schools. Once you have a bird's-eye view of the field, you should explore the websites of many programs, drilling down to read the fine print about application requirements, expectations regarding work experience, and the like. Finally, check the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) for each of the programs you are considering. These are the three main global business program accreditation organizations. You want to apply to accredited programs with a strong educational and career-enhancing caliber that also match your specific background and interests.
Rankings are important to the degree to which they address the factors you are personally interested in. Be familiar with the methodology of the rankings you follow and focus on the aspects that inform your choices and career goals. The following publications issue business school rankings:
- The Economist (international programs included)
- US News and World Report
- Financial Times (international programs included)
A great way to further your self-reflection about pursuing an MBA is to conduct informational interviews with current MBA students or recent graduates. At Brown, you can use BRUnet to connect with alumni who attended schools of interest to you or work in a field you currently work in or hope to join.
In addition to researching schools through web and printed material and conversations with alumni, it's advisable to visit the schools you are considering. Start with an informal visit, and make sure you stop by the admission office to introduce yourself. If your interest in the school continues, ask to speak with a current student and register for a tour of the facilities, if one is offered. Bring copies of your resume and be ready to present your accomplishments and aspirations in conversation. If particular aspects of a school's program interest to you, make sure to research them before your visit so that you can express informed enthusiasm to the admission staff you meet. Pick up any print materials about the program, including applications, financial aid information, or course bulletins.
When to Apply
The great majority of business schools seek applicants with considerable work experience beyond a bachelor's degree. Most programs expect 3 to 5 years of relevant work experience. Depending on your field of prior or current expertise, practical work experience will give you an edge in the application process.