How to find the right MBA

Do you feel that you’ve reached a major crossroad in your life? Do you want change? Do you have that burning ambition to make a difference and have a tangible impact on your business and society? Then it seems you are ready to embark on a new adventure. 

You might even think about following an Executive MBA program. However, what is an Executive MBA and what kind of value does it offer to you? To help you determine if an MBA is the right step in your career path, we've provided all related information in three blogs:

MBA: yes or no?

A lot of people ask (themselves) the question, is an MBA really worthwhile? It requires an investment of time, money and discipline. But should you do this yes or no? Difficult question, a lot depends on your goal and situation. An MBA helps you to develop a lot of strategic, managerial and analytic skills and develop a global mindset. Those are skills you can use in your everyday life and in your career. But of course, you can take even more advantage of these acquired skills when you are in a managerial function or are ambitious to shift your career to a leadership function.

Earning an MBA can help you to change and upgrade your career, to get a job promotion or help you in starting your own business. But of course, an MBA isn’t by definition a guarantee for success. You have to prove yourself and make it happen. For some job functions it can be a trigger to be invited to a first interview and a proof of your discipline and perseverance.

If you are really doubting if you should do an MBA or not, and if you have the right profile, taken into account the strict admission requirements, you can talk to someone who has already accomplished this kind of education or do a short quiz. Some business schools offer a fun quiz with several questions to be able to check if you have the right profile for this kind of program or if there are other options. You can also join an info session at your preferred business school or ask for a test lesson. In that way, you can really get the feel of an MBA.

Which MBA is the best for me?

Once you’ve decided to enroll yourself for an MBA program, you still have to decide which MBA is the best fit. And what business school should you choose? There are a lot of different kinds of MBA, see chapter above.

Once you’ve decided what your end goal is, set your priorities and know how you can fit this program in your daily life, you can check which MBA suits you best. Is it a full-time or part-time program, what is the focus of the program, what is the school’s vision & mission, what do you want to pursue, what degree of internationalization is there, what about the ranking of the school? A lot of questions you have to answer and points you have to check. By contacting the school, talking to alumni or attending an info session or online demo class, you can better find out which program suits you best.

What does an MBA cost in Europe?

If you decide to start an MBA in Europe, you might wonder what it costs. Tuition fees vary depending on the country, the business school, the type of program (online or in-class) and the length of the program. A traditional MBA in the US lasts on average 2 years, while a traditional MBA in Europe often lasts 1 year. It also depends on the timespent of the program, is it a full-time program or a part-time (Executive) MBA? On average, you can expect a tuition fee between 5000 and 70.000 euros a year. Below you can find an overview of the tuition fees of a fulltime MBA in Europe (2019/2020)

Next to the general tuition fee, you have to take into account a possible application fee or administrative fee for students outside of Europe. Once you registered and you are accepted, some institutions ask for a first payment seen as a deposit to secure your spot in the program. That cost will be deducted of the total price. Sometimes business schools have additional costs, optional or compulsory. For instance extra courses or workshops, travel expenses for international modules, residential costs,.. We recommend to definitely check what’s included or excluded in the price of the business school of your choice.

MBA fees in Belgium

What about the cost of following an (e)MBA in Belgium? Here, the same rules count. It depends on the business school, the curricullum they offer, the length of the program. Also, as we already stated in the chapter above about studying in Europe, the cost can vary for European & non-European students (extra administrative costs such as visa costs). You should also double check the additional costs of the program offered by the school of your choice and see what’s included and what’s not. The tuition fees of an MBA in Belgium vary between 30000 and 45000 euros.

Do MBA rankings and accreditations matter?

If you are looking for an MBA and comparing several factors, you will surely read something about accreditations and rankings. Now the question is, do they really matter? Are they trustworthy? There have been many articles written about this and many opinions. Though it may not be your priority in making a decision, as the business school and kind of MBA should suit you, it does matter. Those rankings are not made at random.

The rankings and accreditations are based on thorough analysis and research. It gives you an idea of the quality of the education and next to that, it has a big impact on your future career. Employers care a lot about the rankings. Sometimes they even base their on-campus recruitment on the rankings, selecting the highest-ranked business schools to recruit their new employees.

Also, high-ranked and well accredited business schools have a good reputation and are known. So once you mention this on your CV and LinkedIn profile, it is very likely that you will be more easily contacted for a job interview. When looking at rankings and accreditations, you should be critical. Different rankings look at different aspects of the program: jobs after graduating, salary increase, student satisfaction,.. You can also narrow your search based on rankings that are specifically aimed at a specific MBA, for instance an MBA in finance. If we summarize the points why accreditations & rankings are important:

  • It’s an indicator of high quality education
  • It’s an indicator of high quality faculty (and vice versa, it also attracts high qualified professors)
  • Employers use this as a quality selection method during recruitment
  • It helps you as a future student to select the best program
  • It gives the business school the possiblity to build an international reputation
  • It can help to get financial support (as some institutions use the accreditation/ranking as a condition to grant a scholarship or not)

Which rankings and accreditations exist?

If you want to check the quality of an MBA, you might check the rankings and accreditations. Each agency has developed its own criteria for accreditation. The criteria can vary from financial stability, educational quality to ethical criteria. The accreditation can be seen as a quality stamp an an indicator of success. If a business school wants to be accredited, they have to actively participate in the evaluation process. This can include an analysis of the academic quality, student satisfaction, graduate results, etc. There are different kind of accreditations: national, regional, institutional and specialized & programmatic. If you are looking for the best (E)MBA to fit your needs, you should best look at the specialized & programmatic accreditations. This kind of accreditation evaluates the curriculum of the program, the quality of the faculty, the student outcomes, etc. The criteria are very specific to the (E)MBA and thus gives a clear view about the quality of the program. The four most known programmatic accreditation agencies for the (E)MBA are:

  • AACSB: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • ACBSP: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • AMBA: London-based Association of MBAs
  • MBAs IACBE: International Accreditation Council for Business Education

The agencies work as independent agencies, but are still monitored. The Department of Education (DE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) monitor the accrediting agencies to make sure that they carry out the accreditation process in the right way. Next to monitoring the agencies, they also hold a list of all accredited business schools. Once a business school has applied to be accredited, they get reviewed on a regular basis to see if they can maintain their accreditation. Next to MBA accreditations, there is also a list of MBA rankings. The most popular global rankings are from Financial Times, The Economist and Bloomberg Business week. The Financial Times makes a subdivision between the following rankings for the MBA: Global MBA ranking European MBA ranking Online MBA ranking MBA ranking for Entrepreneurship MBA ranking for Finance MBA ranking for Women Executive MBA ranking

Ask MBA alumni

A good advice if you are in doubt which business school or which specific MBA to choose, is to talk to an alumni of the program/school that you have in mind. They are the real expert and will tell you with no commercial agenda whatsoever how they experienced the program and will give you the best advice. You can ask the program management of the business school to bring you in contact with an alumni, or find one straight away via the alumni network of the school or via LinkedIn. Best is to write down your questions before you have your appointment to make sure you can ask all your questions and to keep an overview for yourself. But what should you ask an alumni? We hereby give you some suggestions:

  • Why did you choose this business school?
  • How many time do you need to invest in this program?
  • What did you find most challenging about your (E)MBA?
  • Which course did you find most helpful?
  • Is there an alumni network and what is the added value for you?
  • Did you have a change in career after graduating?
  • Did you get more opportunities on a work level after graduating?
  • How is the culture at XX business school?
  • Which skills did you develop that you are now using in your professional/personal life?
  • If you could change 1 thing about the school or program, what would it be?