Knowing what will hit you when you start your MBA program could probably get you prepared for this academic roller-coaster ride!
Start with understanding the MBA curriculum. MBA Programs will have the ‘core’ courses and then the electives. I love Berkeley Haas new curriculum for its focus on teaching how to work with diverse teams and for preparing students for digital business through the Data Analytics& Data-Driven Presentation courses. Understanding the structure (this is where the 1-year or 2-year would come in) can also help you plan your roadmap ahead.
In B-School, the common methods of teaching would be a combination of case studies, lectures, team projects and experential learning techniques. Harvard, Darden, IESE and Ivey favor the famed case study approach for majority of the learning (and this reflects in their MBA applications). There is a lot of flexibility offered by B-Schools in how you will tailor the curriculum towards your career objectives. Like at Texas McCombs where 70% of the curriculum is self-selected. Or the fast-paced curriculum at London Business School(LBS).
There is scope for specialization and to deepen your knowledge in many areas by taking up concentrations. For example, at Duke Fuqua, there are functional and topical concentrations and the sheer variety of options (Energy Finance, 3 other concentration in Finance, FinTech, Social Entrpreneurship, to name a few) is worth noting. Typically you will take six electives per concentration. In addition to this, there are two certificates (one in Finance & other in Health Sector Management) and a focus track in Management Science and Technology Management (MSTeM) with STEM designation giving international students the option to work in the U.S for an additional 2 years. Students can also bring in their own concentration – like how Giri Kesavan helped drive the the new Tech and Analytics concentration at London Business School. And there are interdisciplinary concentrations like the STEM Certified Clean Tech certification as well.
In addition to studying in a diverse class (LBS has 66 nationalities!), international experience you gain is a main attraction for MBA aspirants. Fuqua has Global Academic Travel Experience through which you can travel to another counttry and experience business first-hand from 6 weeks to a semester. Yale has semester-long Exchange Programs with IESE, LSE, HEC Paris, NUS and Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. Many programs have courses that make international experience a mandatory part of the MBA program- check out the ‘International Experience’ course at Yale.
Leadership Development is one of the reasons you should consider an MBA. There are so many avenues for developing leadership skills and learning. Like the Texas MBA+ Leadership program where you work with career coaches at Texas McCombs or the integrated curriculum at Yale where leadership training is given through many courses throughout the MBA. At Carlson School of Management, there is a personalized Leadership Development Plan for every MBA student from Day One. At Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management, the Leadership Development Program is offered separately and is highly customizable and you get to choose from three different approaches.
Then there are other aspects that can make the MBA academic experience more fulfilling- especially experential learning components. Take the seven-week Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) course at Michigan Ross which focuses on honing analytical, project management, and leadership skills. Or consider Student Teams Achieving Results (STAR) at UNC Kenan-Flagler for live consulting experience. There are many opportunities through academic challenges & competitions like the unique UNC Kenan-Flagler Real Estate Development Challenge or the Fellows programs at Texas McCombs to gain in-depth expertise to specific domains like Health Innovation, Clean Tech, Venture, etc. Students also get to manage investment funds focusing on social and financial goals.
And did I forget to mention the amazing Faculty in B-Schools? These rockstars alongwith your decorated and accomplished peers will make those 2 years of your life truly memorable.
Start researching thoroughly about the options available and identify what might suit your needs. That said, you just can’t get enough of the many ways to enhance one’s academic learning in B-School. No wonder many want the MBA experience!