Use this video to understand an overall approach for conducting research on business schools. The concepts in this video will be helpful in the MBA Applications process.

How to Conduct Research on Schools

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and an MBA journey begins with researching potential business schools to apply to. The MBA landscape can be quiet confusing and determining which business schools to focus on is not as simple as just looking up their positions in the rankings. There are any number of highly nuanced factors that you will have to take into account; simply understanding what avenues to search in pursuing the information that you are looking for can be a challenge in and of itself. "What school should I apply to?" or "Should I apply here?" is typically the first question that prospective MBA applicants ask.

Properly researching business school options and making a wise school selection is vital for your MBA prospects; you need to be realistic about your profile, while also targeting programs that can provide support to your career goals and accommodate your specific learning needs. All the effort that you put into your MBA applications will be rendered meaningless if you target that effort towards an MBA program that you are ill-suited for. To help you avoid such a situation, this article will discuss exactly how to research MBA programs, what resources to employ, mistakes commonly made by aspiring MBA students, and the correct approach to take.

Recommended Resources

There are a number of excellent resources that can be used to conduct research into business schools. To begin with, let us take a look at the most reliable ranking lists for MBA programs for different geographies. For schools in the United States and Europe, the most reliable rankings are the US News Rankings and the Financial Times Rankings, respectively. For Canadian, Asian, and Australian programs, no such singular ranking lists can be recommended but Experts' Global does maintain its own rankings that you can check.

In addition to taking a look at the ranking lists, it would be wise to also seek out first-hand information. As you begin your MBA journey, try to form a network of like-minded individuals that you can turn to for advice on school research; the internet is a great tool for doing so. You can reach out to people through sites such as LinkedIn, GMAT Club, Poets & Quants, and If it is geographically feasible, try to go for campus visits and register on QS MBA for MBA tours; you will be able to meet the admissions committee members at these events. Now, before you begin looking into business schools, keep in mind that this process can be time-consuming; do not let yourself get overwhelmed, remember that this is not the main body of your preparation. It would be quite beneficial if you had an MBA consultant, mentor, or at least a buddy who could guide you.

When it comes to gathering information on individual MBA programs, your best resource will be the schools' websites. Go through the websites and closely study the business school's pedagogy, program structure, concentrations offered, class profile, and their placement records, as per industry and domain. On a broader scale, try to also get a sense of what the general ecosystem of the school is like, what kind of careers is the school really good for nurturing. Take a look at what kinds of student clubs, centers of excellence, events, etc., the school has; they are a fine indicator of the disciplines that the school has a strong ecosystem for.

Common Mistakes

When conducting research on prospective schools, the most common mistake that one must avoid is approaching the research from the wrong angle. Many applicants tend to operate under the assumption that the goal of understanding business schools is not to "learn" but to "impress"; others limit their research to simply evaluating their chances of success. This approach is not the best one; one should research the MBA programs with a genuine desire to learn about them.

Another common issue to avoid is putting too much faith in extreme views. Conduct your business school research thoroughly and do not take singular, highly passionate reviews seriously; only rely on trusted resources. When going through these resources, however, make sure to take care not to get overwhelmed. Considering the sheer number of programs that exist and the number of factors that must be taken into account while evaluating these MBA programs, it is only natural to feel a bit lost; this is where having a buddy, or an admissions consultant can make a lot of difference.

One final rather subtle mistake that many MBA applicants commit is misinterpreting the statistics. Remember, the median salary, years of experience, GMAT scores, etc. that websites list apply only when you have median candidature. You must consider the unique aspects of your own profile when judging prospective business schools.

The Correct Approach

Now that we have covered the commonly made mistakes, let us go through the correct approach for researching business schools; by following this approach, you will be able to ensure that your exploration of the MBA landscape will be accurate and hassle-free.

First and foremost, as mentioned above, go through the website of each school that you are considering very thoroughly; these websites are the best source of information. In addition to the websites, however, try to talk with an alumnus; a recent alumnus would be the best person to discuss the quality of the program with, as someone who graduated a long time ago may provide information that is outdated, and a current student's information may be limited. Another group of people that you should try to get in touch with if at all possible is the admission committee members; to that end try to take MBA tours, campus visits, etc. Most importantly, have a genuine interest in learning about MBA programs and business schools, even beyond evaluating it as a potential option for yourself.

For more useful information on the MBA application process please see the other articles prepared by Experts’ Global’s MBA admissions consulting team.

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