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Looking for the right MBA programme? Five questions to help your decision

There's no shortage of choice for anyone thinking of studying an MBA. With seven main types of MBAs on offer1, and a growing number of institutions promoting them, it's easy to get lost in the paradox of choice.

To help your decision-making process, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are your career goals and how will an MBA help you achieve them?

If you are questioning whether an MBA is the right choice in the first place, this should help you decide. It might be that another programme could better provide the knowledge to reach your goals.

Be as specific as you can about what you hope to accomplish – are you looking to progress through the ranks at your current organisation? Is there a specific skill or specialism you want to develop? Or perhaps your aim is to set up your own business?

A clear set of objectives will enable you to assess how each programme measures against it, MBA or otherwise. Look carefully at the learning outcomes of each programme and its modules in comparison with what you want to achieve. How well do they match up?

2. Are you looking to build a strong professional network?

The chance to connect with professionals who are interested in your field of work can be as much a reason to study an MBA as the programme itself. If you want to build links with business professionals, think about choosing an MBA which would enable you to do this in a way which suits you.

Many MBAs give students the opportunity to get involved in training projects outside of the main programme. As well as enriching your studies, extra-curricular activities like this offer a chance to mix with a wider pool of student associates.

Teaming up on an assignment is also a great foundation from which to develop a network of peers you can continue to swap ideas and opportunities with even after you've graduated.

Some MBA programmes include membership to alumni networks too. These communities provide invaluable ongoing support and networking opportunities to former students throughout their careers.

3. Are programme accreditations and rankings important to you?

If you're looking to an MBA qualification to help you stand out from the crowd as you aim for higher-tier positions, it can pay to opt for an officially-recognised programme. Accreditations act as a mark of quality for MBA programmes, so completing one that's certified by an official – and leading - business education authority will show employers that your learning has been of the highest standard.

Birmingham Business School is one of only a handful of business schools globally to hold the rare 'gold standard' triple-crown accreditation2 – from the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) , AMBA (Association of MBAs) and EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System).

As for the Online MBA, ours was the world's first 100% online programme of its type to receive AMBA accreditation. It has also been named 3rd best Online MBA in the UK (and 29th best in the world) in CEO Magazine's Global MBA rankings.

Recommended read: Online MBA is named in global ranking

4. What kind of support will you have access to?

Whether you decide to study on campus or online, it's important to know that there is support and guidance available should you need it. You're bound to have questions about aspects of your programme, such as where to find further reading material or how best to approach a particular project, so there should be a clear pathway for these queries.

Keep career advice in mind too; will you have access to professional development resources during your studies? Discussing your goals with a career expert while you're studying can help to make tangible plans for your next steps.

5. Do you seek flexibility with your studies?

Different modes of postgraduate study come with varying levels of professional flexibility. Maybe you want to be able to take your career overseas while you're learning, or even search for new roles in a different area of your home country? Or, perhaps you'd prefer to have a 'base' for your studies on campus, with a structured learning schedule?

Today's range of MBA programmes have developed to meet the needs of various postgraduate learners, from those looking to dedicate their time solely to their studies, to those wanting to work and study simultaneously. The University of Birmingham offers a portfolio of leading MBAs to suit a range of different needs.

This wealth of choice means you can gain an MBA in a way that complements your lifestyle and career aspirations, without compromising on the quality of your learning experience.

There are many ways to gain an MBA, but taking the time to assess how well each one suits you will pay dividends. To find out more, please download a brochure.

1GRADUATE MANAGEMENT ADMISSION COUNCIL. (2018) Application Trends Survey Report [online] Available at: <https://www.gmac.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/admissions-and-application-trends/gmac-application-trends-survey-report-2018.pdf> [Accessed 21.03.2019]

2UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM. (2019) Accreditation and Rankings [online] Available at: <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/business/about/rankings-accreditations.aspx> Accessed 21.03.2019]

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