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Forget About the Rankings

How to Evaluate Fully Employed and Executive MBA Programs

With the ever increasing number of colleges and universities offering Fully Employed and Executive MBA programs, the need to evaluate which program best meets your individual needs becomes even more imperative. The investment of time and money warrants a close scrutiny of your available options. If, at the end of the program you are disappointed, chances are you didn't do your homework.

Key Questions
Here are a few key questions to ask the schools under consideration:

Is the curriculum relevant to my job and my career track?

Within the curriculum, look to see if the school offers an emphasis in an area that has relevance to your career track. If you are planning to run an advertising agency someday, make sure the program has an emphasis in advertising, communications, and/or public relations.

Are the faculty relevant to my career track?

At the end of the day, the quality of your experience in a program will be determined by the quality and relevance of the faculty, as well as the quality and relevance of the other students. Make sure that the faculty in the program have practical and relevant experience in your industry. If you plan to remain in software or IT, make sure that the faculty has the requisite and up-to-date knowledge of this industry, either through their personal work experience or consulting.

What is the quality of the other students in the program?

This is a tough one to measure. Arguments can be made for and against stacking a program with students who are just like you. Most universities tend to strive for a balance between students and the industries they represent.

However, you should look at the work experience of the other students in the program, and their current levels of responsibility within their companies. If you currently run a division with profit and loss responsibilities, and have ten years of work experience, you want to stay away from programs that are filled with 22 year olds looking to become consultants.

  • Ask about the backgrounds of the other candidates and current students
  • Ask about any work experience requirements. Are they based on years of work experience, or on level of responsibility?
  • Ask for alumni references within your industry. If the school has graduated successful alumni from your industry, chances are you can be the next.

Due to the interactive nature of most executive-level MBA programs, the caliber of the student is as important as the caliber of the faculty.

Other questions to ask:

Ask the university what makes their fully employed and executive MBA programs unique.

You are certain to have a ready answer from all program directors. Perhaps it is technology integration, or global alliances.If they can't answer this question, WATCH OUT. It usually means they have nothing unique to offer, and what they do have is probably inferior to other providers.

What additional services does the school provide to the executive student?

Most schools understand the rigorous schedule of an executive, and provide additional services for this student. Find out what they are. These additional services can include textbook delivery, accelerated enrollment procedures, night-time and weekend library hours, and 24X7 access to faculty through email.

Finally, ask the university to break out all of the costs associated with the executive or fully employed MBA program. You may be surprised at some of the "hidden" fees, including laptop computers with installed software, parking fees, medical insurance fees, and field trips.