Receiving an MBA from a school in the U.S. can be a huge boost to your career, giving you the skills and leadership experiences that will last a lifetime. As you know, picking a U.S. based MBA program that is well matched to your qualifications and interests can be overwhelming. This article will assist you in your planning to study for your MBA in the United States.
Why Are U.S. MBA Programs Exceptional
MBA programs in the USA most often require work experience. This allows students to learn as much from fellow students as from professors. If you have no work experience, there are several early career MBA programs in the U.S. These MBA degrees are designed for students with no work experience and typically work internships and other experiential opportunities into their curriculum. Seattle University just launched one of these degrees, called the Bridge MBA, in the fall of 2013.
MBA programs in the U.S. are usually experiential based not theoretically based degrees. For example, MBA classes are designed to teach skills that can be used immediately in the work place. U.S. MBA programs will often use case studies to discuss a business situation and encourage in class discussion on how the business problem should be resolved. Many MBA programs have a mentor program—where local business professionals meet several times per year with MBA students—and they often integrate internships into their program. Where you choose to study can affect where you do an internship. For example, many international MBA students at Seattle University secure internships at Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Boeing or Expedia.
Admission to MBA programs in the U.S. may be fairly easy, but the programs are challenging. Therefore, getting accepted to a U.S. MBA program does not guarantee graduation. Hard work starts after you are accepted: once enrolled, you are expected to contribute to in-class discussions and help bring an international perspective to every class. Most MBA programs in the USA list the percent population of international students within their MBA program. For example, currently, international students make up around 15 percent of the Seattle University MBA student population.
U.S. MBA Curriculum: What Can International Students Expect?
American MBA programs generally have three main types of classes: prerequisite, core and electives. Prerequisite classes help those with no business background gain the tools needed for business school. Students can expect to do prerequisite classes before their MBA program begins. These classes are often waived if they have been taken when the student was an undergraduate.
Core classes guarantee all students have a solid foundation for their MBA. These classes span all the major business disciplines including: economics, finance, accounting, marketing, and management. Core classes are usually taken before a student takes their elective classes, or sometimes a student takes a mixture of core and elective classes.
Elective classes help you personalize your MBA degree and are typically taken at the end of a MBA program. These are classes you choose to take based on personal or professional interest. At Seattle University, you can take elective classes in: accounting, business law, IS / information systems, economic, finance, entrepreneurship, international business, management, marketing, operations and sustainability.
All MBA programs are set up in a similar fashion. The difference usually lies in the ratio of core to elective classes.
U.S. MBA Program Outcomes
An MBA program in the United States delivers on two main fronts: it teaches quantitative analytical skills and also teaches leadership skills. Quantitative classes include: financial statement analysis, capital budgeting and marketing research. For example, at Seattle University one of the first classes you take is a team building and leadership class. This class begins with a personality inventory test (the MBTI), which helps you understand who you are as a person. The highlight of this class is a weekend long off-site retreat that is devoted to team building through a series of team building activities. Seattle University also offers a certificate in leadership, which allows you to take five elective classes to help develop your leadership potential. These classes include: Leadership Formation I and II, Adventure-Based Leadership, Leading with Emotional Intelligence and CEO Leadership and Board of Directors.
What to Look for in a Program and How to Apply
First, figure out why you want to get your MBA. Does a U.S. MBA make sense for you? Is this the right time for you to go back to school? What degree makes the most sense for your interests?
Second, once you decide the MBA is the correct degree for you, which school’s MBA is best for your needs? Look at entrance requirements, scholarship opportunities, cost of tuition and rankings. Many students create a matrix to help keep track of all this information when researching U.S. MBA options. As mentioned above, work experience is very important to U.S. MBA programs. Only apply for MBA programs that match your years of work experience. If you have less than two years of work experience, look for early career MBA programs such as the Seattle University Bridge MBA program. In general, MBA programs in the USA are looking for four to six years of work experience, but usually require a minimum of two years of work experience.
Most important, look at what is unique about each school’s MBA program. This differentiation can make all the difference in terms of fit. For example, Seattle University is devoted to social justice, business ethics and educating the whole person. These values are very important to Seattle University.
How to Apply to an American MBA Program
Step One: Start researching different MBA programs. Try to limit search area by geographic location. Start looking for how MBA programs differentiate themselves. You can begin by looking at the schools listed in this edition of Study in the USA and on StudyUSA.com. Plug this information and application information (GMAT and TOEFL averages, work experience averages, etc.) into your matrix.
Step Two: Take the GMAT / GRE and TOEFL / IELTS. This is the most time consuming part of the application process. If you have specific programs that interest you, research to find which tests they require. You should also research test averages for the schools you are interested in so you know if your test scores are competitive for those schools
Step Three: Once you have a matrix with 10 to 15 schools in it, try and determine which school best suits your qualifications. I recommend not using a school’s ranking to determine whether you should apply or not. Figure out which school is a good fit with what you want to study.
Step Four: Once you have narrowed down where you wish to apply, follow the application directions exactly. If the school asks for an essay, learn something about what is important to that school and incorporate it into your essay. Customize each essay to the school to which you are applying.
Finally, answer the questions being asked in the essay.
If you don’t have work experience, don’t apply to schools requiring four to six years of work experience. Match your qualifications carefully to a school’s requirements.
The Value of an AACSB International Accredited MBA
When researching MBA programs, it is important to especially look at AACSB accredited MBA programs. AACSB, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, is the top MBA accreditation in the U.S. and there are only 698 member institutions that hold AACSB accreditation worldwide. AACSB accreditation guarantees quality management education through a rigorous system of program audits that force business schools to ensure their curriculum is current, that they are tracking all assurance of learning objectives, and that their instructors are qualified to teach in their programs. Choosing an AACSB accredited MBA program guarantees that you are enrolling in the highest quality MBA program.
Albers School of Business and Economics
The Professional MBA program at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics is AACSB accredited and is ranked 68th in the United States among Part-Time MBA programs in the most recent US News and World Report’s 2015 rankings of graduate schools. This 54-credit MBA program can be completed in one and half years or in two years if you do a full-time summer internship. The Professional MBA program has 24 credits of core classes and 30 credits of elective classes. These 10 elective classes allow a student to earn up to two certificates in addition to their MBA degree in any of the following disciplines: Accounting, Business Valuation, Business Analytics, Finance, Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sustainability, Internal Audit, Global Business or Quantitative Economic Analysis.
Seattle University, a private Jesuit Catholic university with over 7,400 students in attendance, is located near downtown Seattle, Washington in the prestigious Capitol Hill district. Seattle’s weather is mild and sunny during the summer and, while it rains a fair amount during the winter and spring, it rarely snows. Seattle University’s location is perfect for the international student who wants a safe, urban MBA university experience and access to a multitude of outdoor sports, from skiing, to hiking, to boating, and beyond.
Over 500 students are enrolled in Seattle University’s Professional MBA program but the class sizes are small, averaging 25 or fewer students per class. The School of Business has an internal Career Service Center that helps place international students in internships with world famous local companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks and Expedia. Seattle University is international. While the MBA program has 15 percent international students, these students come from over 30 different countries with the majority of these students coming from Asia, South East Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Supply chain management is one of the fastest growing business specialties across the globe. The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas has created a Supply chain management department where MBA students specialize in this popular career. In fact, the majority of international students in the Walton MBA choose to specialize in Supply Chain due to the quickly expanding global job market in the field and the international reputation of the faculty. MBA Supply Chain majors study subjects such as modeling, forecasting, transportation strategies and global logistics.The Walton College MBA program also allows them to customize the program with special workshops such as Negotiation Skills, Networking, RFID technologies and Advanced Access. The program also provides one-on-one personal coaching in resume writing, job interview skills, salary negotiations and how to create the best first impression.
A one-year accelerated MBA with a concentration in Global Business attracts students from around the world to Fairleigh Dickinson University, near New York City, because of its focus on managing a multinational workforce and expanding into global markets. Having met the highest standards, the program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The MBA program features a curriculum that covers the models, theories, concepts and practices that successful organizations utilize to gain a competitive advantage within the framework of the global economy. Concepts are brought to reality for students, with structured corporate visits and a 10-day overseas business trip.
Article by Jeff Millard
Jeff Millard is Director, Master’s Program Operations at the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University.