Is It Important to Do an MBA from a Top School?

Door opener, an accelerator for the ascent – legends have grown around the MBA. But the fact is; the management course has lost its luster and importance.

Hard, but true; whoever pulls out his business card and hopes to make an impression with the “MBA” printed on it often only gets a tired smile. Gone are the days when the “Master of Business Administration” title was something first-class and exclusive. Today there are an estimated more than 2,000 providers worldwide. And the market offers quick bleaching that does not meet any minimum requirements. Such titles are hardly worth a cent, and they are actually better-kept secret from applications. “Anyone who lists a third-class training course on their CV is ridiculous,” says Zurich-based executive searcher Guido Schilling.

The school’s score provides information

If an MBA, then from an institution that is generally recognized and has a good reputation.

An MBA is only worthwhile at a top school. The organization wants to network students and graduates of the world’s leading MBA schools. Pay attention to the school’s GMAT score. MBA applicants must take a test for this. The school’s score is then calculated from the average result of all admitted students per year – the maximum is 700. At an MBA school that does not require such a test.

A network of alumni, supervision, integration … there are multiple advantages but are also very expensive. Before going to business school, it is important to know their characteristics and advantages.

Supervision and atmosphere

This makes a big difference. The top business schools offer strong supervision of students to ensure them a comfortable study tenure. Schools are sometimes compared to nursery schools because the students are so brooded.

The alumni network

After 3 or even 5 years spent in training, we get attached to it, and the elders always have fun keeping strong links with their training. The top business schools know how to preserve and develop these links and this energy through the association of alumni and seniors. Most often the alumni are involved in the establishment’s decisions and play a central role in promoting the professional integration of current promotions or the funding of certain projects. Many internships or job offers are offered by alumni.

Business network

The top business schools know how to build lasting links with the companies that represent the purpose of training: to adapt training to the needs of businesses, for the future recruitment of current promotions; but also, for projects as varied as research chairs, project sponsorship, sponsorship of diplomas or educational trips.

International opening

Another very concrete advantage, the top business schools are now all open to the international market and offer or even require all students to study from 6 months to 1 year, abroad. Shanghai, London, Rio, Bangkok – each major school links special links (exchanges) with other institutes (universities or business schools). Universities with Erasmus also offer it but without means or communication while business schools, for example, make it their first marketing argument to attract future students. Top business schools even offer MBA online which benefits international students a lot.

Professional experience

Young graduates will come out with a minimum of 12 months of professional experience. They are also very well integrated into the curriculum. This experience is valued by the top business schools because it is decisive for students during their first job search after graduation. Again, the universities do not fully value this experience.

Academic research

Research is a decisive element in measuring the excellence of the educational programs offered. The best schools produce works, articles, projects which are directly integrated into the courses and which contribute to the reputation of the schools. Here the difference with the faculties is less important except that the research is integrated more directly into student training and the greater financial means depending on the school.

Occupational integration

This is a big advantage of top business schools, while elsewhere you are left to yourself. Here the supervision goes to the end. Everything is done so that you find a job right away, this is the number one objective of the whole school. Many opportunities are available; internships, apprenticeships, professional missions, junior business, alumni, forums organized jobs but also business creations (incubators, entrepreneurship). Admission rates are often close to 100% in the best schools.

The cost of top business schools/return on investment

A year of study in a large private school ranges from 5,000 to 9,000 euros! It’s an investment! (University fees are less than 400 euros per year) – There are many scholarships to help democratize entry into a large school. But above all special loans by banks are provided to allow you to spread over several years these costs (reimbursements can start only from the end of your studies once the diploma is obtained and when the job and the first salary are received). Also, your level of remuneration will be higher after leaving a big school guaranteeing you a return on investment.

Prestige and CV

The most common criticisms of large schools are: watch out for money pumps – the cost is very high, so compare well before choosing. Also, the management and mentality of the top business schools tend to push for individualism by pushing the individual upwards and not the group.

MBA graduates are still preferred in some cases

But who benefits from a serious MBA? Basically, the following applies; the postgraduate course can be useful for prospective managers, namely for those who have not studied business. Engineers, lawyers, and medical professionals acquire management know-how part-time or in full-time studies. MBA courses are generalist courses, which means: They teach the basics in business and economics, finance and accounting, marketing or management techniques. Afterward, graduates should have a holistic understanding of business, master networked, practice-oriented thinking and bring international experience. Applicants with an MBA title are preferred by consulting and auditing companies or in the financial, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.

How do you recognize dubious providers?

An MBA course should require a university degree and at least one year or 1,200 hours of work.

Some providers advertise with membership in an accreditation agency, which does not mean that their programs can also bear the seal. Only a few business schools have an international seal of approval. We should also be warned of so-called title mills, which issue certificates for money: anyone with the wrong title faces imprisonment of up to one year.

How to enter a business school

Like any path with a valuable reward at the end, the process of entering a business school is not easy, but exciting. Those who wish to enter must go through 4 main stages.

1. Define a list of schools for admission

The first step is to choose exactly what you want from an MBA education and which business schools you should apply for. You should focus on international ratings (Financial Times, Economist), preferably in your area. So, if you want to get an MBA in marketing, Kellogg may be the best choice, ranking 14th in the overall ranking.

In any case, at this stage, you should already have a list of selected schools and requirements for candidates for each of them.

2. Pass two tests: GMAT and IELTS / TOEFL

The IELTS and TOEFL tests examine your English proficiency. Of these, you need to pass only one – the choice depends on personal preferences and requirements of the business school. Typically, for admission, it’s enough to get 7 out of 9 points on IELTS or 100 out of 120 points on TOEFL. To enter Harvard, you will need to “sweat” – earn 7.5 or 109 points, respectively.

GMAT tests not only your knowledge of the language but also mathematical abilities, the ability to think logically. Passing it for a sufficient score is much more difficult, preparing for the test takes 3-4 months in the courses.

To enter the top business schools, you need to get at least 650 points out of 800 possible. And the best (for example, Wharton, Harvard, Chicago Booth) will require to provide a result of more than 720 points.

3. Application package: write motivational essays, collect recommendations, translate a diploma

In addition to high test scores, you need to provide the admissions committee and other evidence that you are a strong and worthy candidate to study at a business school. Typically, a business school asks you to write from 2 to 7 motivational essays and provide up to 3 recommendations from superiors, representatives of counterparty companies, and colleagues from other departments.

In this case, you must translate and certify your diploma and prepare a resume in English, which is also attached to your package of documents.

4. Decide on funding for studies

There are 3 main ways to pay for your studies:

  • Credit
  • Scholarship from a business school
  • Your personal savings

Of course, it is not necessary to dwell on only one payment method. This is not always possible. Many candidates combine payment, for example, from personal funds and scholarships.

It often seems to candidates that getting a scholarship or a student loan is very difficult, almost impossible. In fact, they are willingly given to applicants. For example, IE Business School provides scholarships covering up to 70% of the cost of training.


Depending on what criteria are applied, the results vary substantially in some cases. Only providers who perform well in several rankings can count as top universities. Nevertheless, little-known institutes could also be a good choice: Some medium-sized companies would never hire someone from a top business school because it doesn’t fit their corporate culture.

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