5 Steps to Determining the Right MBA for You

  • J.D. Clarke, Ivey Executive Director, Masters Programs
  • |
  • Jan 20, 2017

This blog was originally published on LinkedIn on December 22, 2016.

Deciding to earn your MBA is a clear step towards career advancement, but knowing which MBA program to choose may not be as clear a step. Being educated on all the different aspects of an MBA will help you feel more confident about your choice. Here are five steps that you can follow to choose an MBA. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong choice. The right program for you is the one that meets your specific needs. 

1. Determine what elements of an MBA are important to you 

There are many different elements to an MBA experience. The culture, teaching style, and location of the school will have an impact on the in-class experience while the school’s reputation, alumni network, and industry strength will impact the ROI of the program. Other elements to consider include career management resources, program length, your own learning style, and school rankings.

Decide which elements are important to you. Let’s say your goal is to change careers; networking then, through the school’s alumni network, becomes a critical element. So does the type of career management provided by the school you pick.

2. Group the elements by level of importance 

Ensure that you have given thought to what is truly important to you. List each element using an A-to-D level scale, with A representing the greatest importance. Create a chart of two columns: Elements and Level. List under the Elements column the various elements that you determined in step 1 in their order of importance. Evaluate each element in the “Level” column. You may find that the elements with the "A" level are few but represent the greatest weight in your decision process as you will see in the following step. 

3. Give each group a weighting 

In a third column, titled Weight, assign each level group a weighting. Give elements under Level A 15 points each, Level B 9 points each, Level C 4 points each and Level D 2 points each. Each element will carry the weight respective to the group level it is in.

4. Rate each school 

In a fourth column, titled Score, score the school you are considering on each of the elements. Do your research to learn more about what the school offers and how it differs from other schools. Take the time to find specific answers to your questions and concerns. Attend open houses and speak to the school’s admissions team, alumni, and current students. In a second column, rate another school on your list and so on and so forth. Sum up the scores to find the total rating of each of the schools you are considering.

5. Make your decision

Scoring each school in the exercise above will allow you to determine which school best meets your needs so you can make your decision using a consistent and fair method. If you feel that you’re missing any information, take the time to do further research and get the answers you need. Based on the score results, make your final decision.

Choosing an MBA program can be overwhelming but understanding the different elements of the program and how they matter to you — and relating that to each school’s offerings — will help you make the decision that is right for you. 


  • MBA