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Part 1 – Determining An MBA Program Type

Today, I am very happy to present post 1 of a 4-part series from Michael Cohan at MBAPrepAdvantage: “Selecting MBA Programs and Schools to Target”. Read on for tips on selecting the right MBA program for you!

Selecting which MBA programs and schools to target is a decision every MBA applicant has to face.  The process can often be overwhelming with so many different MBA programs and schools.  Even determining a set of suitable schools is only half the equation.  The other half is forecasting your likelihood of getting accepted and budgeting the time to complete the MBA applications. Magoosh simplifies this process with a 4-Step Process:

We will dig deeper in separate blog posts about each step – asking a series of questions to help you winnow your choices.  Today, we will discuss the different MBA Program Types and pose 10 questions to guide you on the process.

Determining An MBA Program Type

Masters of Business Administration programs come in all shapes and sizes.  An MBA program has a core curriculum, electives & majors, experiential learning, leadership training, etc. that is articulated in greater detail here.  The different MBA program types emphasize each of these aspects differently in degree and the manner that these are taught.  The three main MBA program types are Full-Time MBA, Part-Time MBA and Executive MBA programs.  These program types vary by scope, length, audience, etc. which we discuss later.  Offering all three programs, NYU Stern has a useful MBA Program Comparison Chart to quickly discern the major underlying differences.


So ask yourself:

1.  Are you transitioning in your career to another industry, function or both?

Intended Audience is important, because just as companies align their capabilities to a target market, so too do business schools.  So, for example, if you are seeking a career switch then a Full-Time program will best facilitate this transition with its internship opportunity between first and second years.  Similarly, the Full-Time MBA career resources are often more robust.  Although certain Part-Time and Executive MBA programs offer limited internship opportunities, since a small percentage of the class will comprise non-working professionals, the programs are not geared for this audience.  Part-Time and Executive MBA programs will have differing policies on access to full-time MBA on-campus recruiting.  Northwestern  Kellogg, for example, allows part-time MBA students to use the same career resources as their full-time MBA counterparts provided certain conditions are met.  NYU Stern does not.  Executive MBA programs have the added concern of potentially alienating corporate sponsors, especially if the company has a long-standing relationship with the school.

2. Is your focus regional or even global?

Regional or Global Focus.  If you are working in a city, then a Part-Time MBA program might become more attractive since the strongest tend to be in major cities.  If you have a more global focus, you might eschew the Part-Time MBA programs for Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA Programs that offer joint degree and exchange options.  Full-time MBA program dual-degree and exchange options include the NYU Stern-HEC Paris Dual MBA Program and Wharton-INSEAD Alliance.  EMBA programs also vary by location and focus.  Kellogg has a long-standing Miami Executive MBA program; Chicago Booth also offers its Executive MBA in London and Hong Kong; while London Business School partners with Columbia and HKU Business Schools in their EMBA-Global Asia program.

3. How old are you? 

4. How advanced in your career are you?

Peer Group.  At a certain point, you will want to co-learn, network and grow with peers at roughly your same professional level and life stage.  So, if you are an executive with more than a decade of experience, and have managed multiple employee layers, then you might wish to have a more experienced peer group with which to facilitate discussions and classroom dynamics at your level.  Certain schools, like Wharton, only offer Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA Programs, which means that the average age and experience of their EMBA students tends to be lower than the average age and experience of EMBA students at schools that offer all three options.  Wharton has its own MBA Comparison Chart that summarizes the difference between the two programs at the school so you can explore which works best for you.

5. Do you have specific scheduling needs? 

6. Will your company accommodate the class schedule of your MBA Program?

Scheduling Options. Part-Time and Executive MBA Programs vary class schedules to accommodate the differing needs of potential students.  For Part-Time MBA programs, schools usually offer different Evening and Weekend options, like Chicago Booth does.  The normal EMBA program schedule is alternating weekends for traveling executives.  But some schools offer every week options, like Columbia’s Saturday-only option.

7. How important are tuition costs to you?

8. Will your company sponsor part or all of your MBA education costs?

Company Sponsorship.  Companies can sponsor Full-Time MBA programs (with usually a time commitment condition upon graduation) as well as a Part-Time MBA programs.  But company sponsorship is most common with Executive MBA programs, which is often needed since Executive MBA programs typically cost more than Full-Time or Part-Time MBA programs.  Schools have different sponsorship (and even employment) requirements and policies.  Here are the Executive MBA sponsorship pages for Wharton and Columbia.

9. Do you wish to graduate as quickly as possible?

Accelerated Program.  Certain schools offer formal accelerated Full-Time MBA programs and/or opportunities to place out of prerequisites and carry a heavier load in order to graduate earlier.  Students who have undergraduate business degrees or have completed a minimum number of accounting, statistics, finance, economics, marketing and operations courses are eligible for Kellogg’s One Year Program, Columbia’s Accelerated Option and Emory’s One-Year MBA.  For those with advanced degrees, research programs like Cornell’s Accelerated Program.  Another option is to search outside of the United States where a structure of less than two years is more prevalent.

10. Is an MBA degree even the right degree for you?

If you are a younger applicant with little or no experience, you might choose to pursue a Masters in Management degree (e.g. London Business School’s Programme).  Although keep in mind that HBS’ 2+2 Program and Yale SOM’s Silver Scholars Program are intended for MBA applicants applying directly from undergraduate school.  Other non-MBA degrees focus on particular subject areas, like Financial Engineering Programs (e.g. Haas’ Master of Financial Engineering Program).

MBAPrepAdvantage can help you determine which MBA program suits you.  We offer a free initial assessment that includes Program and School Selection as well as helps you gauge your MBA admissions chances and the strength of your candidacy.  Email us a brief description of your goals along with your target schools, resume, GPA, and GMAT or GRE at

If you wish to learn more about the different MBA and non-MBA options, feel free to refer to the blog post Different MBA Program Types.


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