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Decisions decisions: How to decide on which MBA to take

Decision pathway trees

This post is intended to give some guidance on making some of the decisions on which form to study your MBA and how to choose the university to study at. For me, these were some decisions which took some time to be sure of making the right decision.

How will you devote yourself to studying?

For my, the first question was how much time am I able or do I want to commit to doing an MBA. There are two main options, either going back to study full time, in which case it would likely take 12-18 months to complete or study part time in which case it will likely take up to 30 months. The main consideration is whether you want to continue working whilst studying. As I live in Switzerland, taking a year off unpaid wasn’t really an option considering the high living costs, therefore I decided to study part time.

In which format do you intend to study?

The next step was to think in which format did I want to study. Here options include studying completely online or still having the face-to-face element and for me this was one of the toughest decisions. Studying online would give me much more flexibility and would be more cost effective, however it would mean that I would miss out on some of the networking opportunities. After researching some of the courses, I found out that the “residential” aspect of the course (basically attending physical classes for a weekend) is part of many part-time courses in order to get the accreditation. Some would require taking additional time off work, which wasn’t really an option for me

How important is prestige?

In many cases this goes hand-in-hand with price and in the majority of cases the more prestigious universities charge more. Think Harvard for example. Here you need to consider how important is the “brand” of the university, but also the content. For some people having a Tier-1 university on their C.V is the a higher priority than the learning or the content. Think what is important to you. Related to this is cost and how much the course will cost. From my experience (and a report shown in the FT), fewer employers are willing to pay or contribute to an MBA so you may be lumbered with the whole amount. Is it worth delaying the application for an MBA if you would be able to afford a more prestigious university or that your employer may contribute in the future?

What specific course do you want to study?

When researching courses it is important to think about why is it that you are wanting to study and in particular which MBA do you want to study. MBA’s can come in many different variants, whether it’s a plain vanilla course covering the key modules or a more specialised course in finance for example. Additionally can courses will allow you to choose modules in your second year. Inquire as to what these are, to see if there are any that you’d be particularly interested in.


If you chose to undertake a full time course or one that contains some classroom based study, then think how far away you are willing to venture. For some people, taking a year out is important and they use this time to experience another country or culture. Others may have additional responsibilities which mean that they chose to stay in their current location.

In summary, think about the following:

  1. Full-time or part-time programme?
  2. Format of the studying. Do you want to study distance learning, classroom?
  3. How important is the brand?
  4. Any specialisations?
  5. How far you’d be willing to travel

There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing an MBA. Listed above are just a few. Don’t rush making a decision. Studying an MBA will take a significant amount of your time and will involve making sacrifices. Therefore I recommend you research all options, attend open days, speak to other people who are either currently studying an MBA or thinking about applying. Do you have any tips i’ve missed? Then post them in the comments section

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