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Business School Criteria Poll Results 

Over 100 people participated in this most recent poll. Here are the results and our analysis.

Question:  What factor is most important in your business school selection process?

business school

Our Views on Business School Selection

We strongly believe that too many applicants rush through the b-school selection stage and jump right into the application process. This is roughly the equivalent of building a home without first drawing up an adequate blueprint. To most applicants, a business school education will represent the most significant personal investment they will make in their lives. This should not be made lightly and should encompass more consideration than simply rankings.

Because our clients, and MBA applicants in general, are a rather heterogeneous group, it is quite dangerous to establish one set of criteria for everyone to use. Certain circumstances such as finances and families often play a role in the business school selection process. An applicant may have family in a particular city or his or her spouse may need to work in a particular city for instance.

As a result, we look at many different criteria and consider our clients' backgrounds and needs when helping them select the appropriate business schools to which to apply.

Career Opportunities

The poll voters have spoken and career opportunities are clearly the most important criterion for selecting a business school. This is what we expected and, because the MBA is a professional degree, it also makes a lot of sense.

We have found, though, that many applicants confuse career opportunities with reputation/prestige. While most of the top schools are solid in many different fields such as marketing, finance, and general management, this is not always the case.

Additionally, the reputation or prestige of a program is very subjective and can be extremely hard to measure. As a general rule, BusinessWeek is much more widely recognized by recruiters than U.S. News and World Report. Nonetheless, there are many issues surrounding the business school rankings and the only thing about the rankings that appears certain is that they will always be controversial.

"The ranking of all kinds of educational programs has become one of the most popular of American indoor sports, and this is especially so for M.B.A. programs." -- Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)


Most applicants view location primarily as being related to climate or proximity to family and friends. You should also keep in mind that business schools are most likely to attract local recruiters. This holds true of all schools regardless of their prestige which, by the way, is usually weaker the more geographically removed you are from the school. While European firms will travel to Harvard and East Coast firms will recruit at Stanford, your best chance of finding a job in a particular region is to attend a school located in that region.

The major exception to this rule of thumb is when no suitable schools are located in that particular region. You should also keep in mind that an MBA from a prestigious program will give you a huge advantage in a job search in virtually any market in the world.


We frequently tell our clients not to worry too much about the cost of attending business school. There is a lot of financial aid available and, at least as far as the top schools are concerned, it is very unlikely you will not be able to afford to repay your loans upon graduation.

"I just wanted to let you know that I went against the grain and picked 'cost' in your poll. I view the MBA as a financial decision and I believe that I will be able to pursue my career goals successfully from just about any good business school."  -- VJ, USA

Teaching Style

We feel that teaching style is too often overlooked as a criterion for business school selection. Most applicants will respond better to different styles of teaching and the MBA is not going to produce a maximum value for you if you are frustrated by the teaching style of the program you attend. You should be aware that there are schools across the spectrum that utilize differing proportions of the lecture, case, and experiential teaching styles.

Size of the Program

One of the biggest benefits of a business school education is the networking opportunities which it presents. As a result, the size of the MBA program will make a large difference on such things as your network and ... your future career opportunities. For this reason, when our clients receive multiple offers and call us for advice on which one they should accept, we frequently look at the size of the student body and use that as an important factor in our consultations.

We update our poll periodically and we will continue to archive the results of the previous polls so you can see how other business school applicants voted on those topics as well.

Do you have an idea for a poll topic or any comments on our analysis? Please email us at mba@admissionsconsultants.com with your thoughts.

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