What to Look For in MBA Programs – Program Characteristics

In my previous article, I pointed out that you should compare the average GMAT score, GPA, and work experience of a school’s current MBA class with your own statistics, to see if you would fit in the MBA program the schools offer. Having isolated programs that seem to fit you, you may still find that you have to choose among several hundred schools. An important criterion that you should consider is the school’s accreditation.

The gold standard of accreditation is the AACSB. You should understand that AACSB does not accredit MBA programs. They accredit colleges and universities that have business schools. You will find that there are about 1,000 MBA programs offered by AACSB accredited schools. That’s a lot of MBA programs from which to choose MBA .

What are average starting salaries of MBA graduates? Starting salaries come in rather wide ranges and depend on many factors: your grades, work experience, school, location, state of the economy, and much more. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on a study conducted by GMAC, the organization that administers the GMAT. The study found that the median salary of 2010 MBA graduates was about $79,000 not including a median sign-up bonus of about $13,000. The median is the middle value; that is, half the students earned more than $79,000 and half earned less.

2010 was not a banner year for MBA graduates, yet these numbers speak well for the MBA degree. The Official MBA Guide lists the top 40 schools according to starting salaries as reported by the schools. The range is from $85,000 to $120,000. As you narrow down the list of MBA programs you are considering, give some thought to the starting salaries of its graduates.

How many companies recruit MBA students at the school? The biggest and most prestigious schools in large metropolitan areas get more recruiters than small colleges in small cities. Your chance of getting job offers is better if many companies recruit at your school. Large well-known companies may be looking for a number of hires, while small local companies may be happy to find a single student it needs to fill a position. In recent years, there has been a tendency for many MBA students not to look for a job but to start their own business upon graduation, often in partnership with other students they met in the MBA program.

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