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Expert Tips: How to choose an MBA that is right for you

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Authors: Bakhetsile MangenaUduak JohnsonDebapriyo Nag

How can you determine if you are choosing a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) best-suited to your circumstances? Start by asking whether you need the degree to advance your career or if you just want an advanced degree for your personal satisfaction. Going for a degree more advanced than a bachelor’s will be an investment that you need to consider carefully. MANCOSA’s three MBA experts, discuss eight tips to help you find the right degree programme.

Make an informed decision based on research

Identify professionals who are currently successful in a career and ask what type of degrees they have? Where did they get their degrees? These questions will show you what kind of degree will be best suited to your own circumstances. Finally, ascertain whether your employer will value the advanced degree and help you move into a management position.

What is an MBA?

An MBA is an internationally-recognised degree developed for imparting skills required for a career in business and management in both the public and private sectors. Most MBA courses have a core curriculum with courses like economics, accounting, marketing, strategy and operations followed by electives chosen by the participants, keeping in mind their personal or professional interests.

Some MBA schools (particularly the full-time ones) require candidates to complete an internship at a company or organisation as a part of their curriculum, thereby helping students supplement their theoretical knowledge with experience from the workplace as well as creating concrete job opportunities for participants.

Is an MBA degree a good choice for career advancement?

The MBA programme is currently the most sought-after study programme in the world. Although the traditional two-year programme is still popular, the Executive MBA is increasingly gaining popularity as it offers great flexibility to candidates as they can pursue the programme without leaving their current jobs.

An Executive MBA(EMBA) typically requires participants to have some years of work experience before they enrol for the programme. This helps students continue working without any hindrances and also puts a theoretical framework to the skills learned in the workplace.

Who should study a Masters of Business Administration?

This programme gives great theoretical depth and practical experience. It is also a chance to differentiate MBA candidates from others in the employment market. The programme is recognised throughout the world and candidates who wish to study this masters degree must have the right set of qualifications, passion and a drive to complete the program.

Irrespective of the industry or profession that candidates are in, or regardless of the condition of the economy of your country, an MBA degree can benefit those in positions in business and management, and especially those in executive and managerial positions. For candidates who are ready to make changes in their careers, an MBA course will give them the ability to make those strategic changes.

Global experience with international relevance

The rigorous curriculum is best suited for a student or professional who has a clear direction of where they want to be in their career path. Managers in over 75 countries are studying this programme, simply because of its international relevance. The modules can be challenging and require a lot of time, which may affect working professionals. Candidates are expected to have experiential knowledge at a managerial level in order to complete the programme.

Candidates are drawn to the MBA degree programmes because of its academic rigour, its intellectual challenge and its proven ability to greatly enhance your career prospects. When joining this programme, candidates are introduced to colleagues from over 30 nationalities and a diverse range of professions in a class of over 100 participants. The course offers exposure to its candidates with study tours and a solid international network. It is a truly global experience.

8 Tips to help you choose the right MBA degree

1) Why do you want to do an MBA?

Business leaders, managers, chief executive officers, successful entrepreneurs and other influential people in business are among the best-known MBA graduates. An MBA deepens the practical experience, enlarges the theoretical scope and prepares students for higher and more complex responsibilities. Middle managers with some years of experience have been more likely to undertake these studies to advance their careers.

The study programme is aimed at managerial positions in corporates. It will help you achieve your professional and financial goals over a period of time. It is a fulfilling and rewarding study option because of the opportunities it offers, both professionally and personally. One of the greatest tragedies of leadership is the inability, refusal, or failure to use good research data for decision-making. This programme equips one with the necessary skills to undertake research, understand research and appreciate its value in decision-making.

2) What are your career goals?

If you are career-driven and ambitious, this is a masters degree that helps one confidently navigate and compete within the complex and fast-evolving business world. The degree transforms your thinking, management and leadership approaches. If you’re ready for a career change, the Masters in Business Administration will nourish your drive and facilitate this change in a challenging but protected environment.

It not only prepares you for a career in the business world but also helps you to become an entrepreneur. It imparts in you the skills of basic accounting, human resource management and marketing etc. through a rigorous curriculum of coursework and electives. It will help you to develop sound decision-making and communication skills which are essential ingredients for success. It also helps in developing entrepreneurial skills based on certain prerequisites.

3) Can you handle graduate-level work?

Since an MBA is a rigorous course focused on developing skills for the business world. It demands a commitment of valuable resources like time and money. So, one needs to be focused, meticulous and have an eye for detail in order to succeed in a managerial career. You also need to be prepared for research, as well as critical and strategic thinking.

The MBA course allows you to examine the theory behind yours and other management practices. It challenges you to consider other theories to scrutinise your personal experience and that of other business leaders. Therefore, hard work and diligence is required to complete this mentally engaging postgraduate masters programme.

4) Are you working full-time or part-time?

A middle management level experience is a prerequisite for embarking on an MBA degree, but you need to be able to free-up sufficient time for the challenges and rigors of study. If you’re working full-time, consider a part-time programme or a weekend Executive MBA, which will be convenient in terms of time and money. The part-time study programme will also be advantageous for you, as you will have work experience, which will give you a competitive edge.

5) What type of teaching methodology do you prefer?

Work routines can become monotonous and compulsive to meet targets. An MBA can bring an exciting and challenging dimension to these routines. It prompts you to look deeper than the familiar by stepping back to reflect on your experience and the experiences of others for the purpose of learning from them. This practical dimension is one of the constituents of your MBA study.

The application of theory to practice will enhance this. Diverse teaching and learning methods are used to scrutinise the theories that guide your actions and reactions, with or without your awareness.

The most common types of teaching methods used in an MBA classroom are lectures, case studies, method, experiential learning and simulations.

  • Lectures: Lectures are the most common teaching method found in business schools. This method engages students with slides via a PowerPoint presentation, sprinkled with some short video clips during the lecture.
  • Case Study Method: The case study method is the most popular method of pedagogy in business schools. The case study format involves a professor leading students through a historical analysis of a business situation. It was pioneered by Harvard Business School and is a widely acclaimed method used nowadays by the majority of business schools.
  • Experiential Learning: This is a concept of learning while doing – and is often substituted by internship programmes. Business schools have incubator labs focusing on entrepreneurship.
  • Simulation: This teaching method primarily uses technology recreations of common business scenarios

6) What sort of work experience do you have?

You cannot master what you have not been practising. Therefore, your work experience in a leadership position is pivotal to your MBA study. A middle management level experience is common among those enrolling for an MBA. The challenges that you have negotiated as a business leader are useful to your studies.

7) Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Your vision and plan for the next five years are pertinent to determine your suitability for the MBA. If you plan to change your career path, for instance, the study exposes you to a wide variety of business disciplines, that should acquaint you with your future direction, thereby enhancing your options.

If you want to advance your current career, the MBA degree can equip you for such promotions as well. Thus, the MBA is likely to best serve you if you have made your decision to either change or advance your career amongst other reasons. The MBA is equally valuable to those who take up the programme in order to become entrepreneurs after years of managing in corporate.

8) What type of skills are you looking for and for what purpose?

A Masters of Business Administration imparts skills like decision-making and analytical reasoning, which help in succeeding in a real-world business scenario. It also imparts entrepreneurial skills to students through its core curriculum and incubation labs in some schools where students get to hone their real-world business skills.

The MBA degree can distinguish you from others

The MBA degree programme attracts the best and brightest executives from across the globe. Each semester the programme allows for more collaborative work and relationship nurturing with other senior managers from around the world. Fellow students and academics in the programme create a learning environment where they are encouraged to challenge assumptions in the quest for deeper understanding and smarter solutions. Acquiring an MBA qualification means gaining a powerful framework for making decisions throughout their careers. Find out more from our MBA information page.

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