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How To Choose Your Business School Degree: 10 Things Students Consider

From rankings to tuition fees, find out what today's business school students are prioritizing when deciding on the right program

Thu Nov 9 2023

For anyone having difficulty choosing the right business school program, the Association of MBAs (AMBA) recently released a survey revealing the top factors that business school students consider when selecting their courses. 

In total, 544 business students from 94 different countries responded to the online questionnaire, of which 54% were enrolled on an MBA program.

The survey asked respondents several questions which focused on reasons why they went to business school, how they chose their business school program, and what industries they wanted to enter after their degree. 

One question asked students to reveal why they decided to enroll in their current program. 

Here's what they said: 

The report found the number one factor influencing students’ course selection was a program’s accreditation, with 51% of respondents listing it as one of their top considerations. 

Accreditation is given to business schools from third-party associations if they conform to certain educative and quality standards. Some of the top business school accreditors include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), and AMBA. 

Tied in second place, each accruing 39% of responses, were the reputation of a program among businesses, and a program's ranking (i.e. via the Financial Times MBA ranking). 

This is good news for schools that performed well in 2023's Financial Times MBA Ranking, which saw Columbia Business School ranked as the world’s number one MBA, with INSEAD second, and Spain’s IESE third. 

The fourth factor that had the greatest influence on students' selections was the specialization opportunities programs provide, such as the ability to focus on areas including tech, marketing, or finance. In total 38% of respondents singled this out as a crucial factor. 

Meanwhile, 37% rated the quality of teaching, and 35% placed a focus on the quality of research that a school produces. 

Furthermore, a notable 30% of students considered method of program delivery–such as online, hybrid, or in-person–as being an important determinant.

Though in-person courses remain the most popular, according to a recent GMAC survey, the proportion of prospective business school students interested in online or hybrid learning is still up from pre-pandemic levels, with 22% stating a preference for remote teaching. 

In eighth place, a smaller number of students (19%) highlighted the innovation qualities of a program, while 15% cited a program’s focus on sustainability as important.

Just 13% mentioned the salary that they were likely to get after completing their program. 

Other program considerations included the degree of focus on ethics, the quality of other students, and more practical factors like time, location, and tuition fees.