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How To Choose The Right MBA For You? 4 Things To Consider

Wondering how to choose the right MBA program for your personal and professional goals? Here are four things to consider, according to current MBA students


Fri May 17 2024

With the prospect of large-scale changes in your professional and personal life on the cards, choosing your MBA program requires serious consideration. 

For one thing, it’s a large investment of both money and time. It’s also an opportunity to press pause on your life and embark on a new adventure; which could be in a new city, country, or even continent. 

So, with seemingly innumerable factors that could influence your decision, how can you choose the right MBA for you? 

To find out, BusinessBecause spoke with two students on the MBA program at International Institute for Management Development (IMD), a one-year, full-time degree taught in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

Here are four things they said you should consider.

1. Your personal priorities 

First and foremost, this is a significant life choice that will likely impact you over a period of years, not months. The personal decision of where you study your MBA is therefore important. 


When choosing your MBA program, you should consider where you would like to live both during your studies and after you graduate. You should also be conscious of your proximity to family and friends, and, of course, you must consider what you can afford.  

For Anouk Rossier (pictured), enrolling in the IMD MBA meant a chance to make more permanent roots in her native Switzerland after spending nearly two-years traveling extensively in her role as a McKinsey associate. She’d advised clients across Europe but felt the need to build a more permanent base. 

“I did not really build a strong network in Switzerland because most of my clients were outside. Ideally, I would see myself long-term in Switzerland, so one of the reasons I chose IMD is because of its very strong foothold there,” she says. 

IMD also offers a range of funding options, including bursaries and merit scholarships, with 48% of students obtaining financial assistance. Anouk successfully earned a scholarship opportunity which made the prospect of studying more affordable. 

“That [having a scholarship] made a huge difference. It also helped me make my choice for IMD, because there are plenty of different types of scholarships that you can apply for.” 

2. The learning environment 

An MBA is about achieving your professional goals and developing personally as you acquire new knowledge, skills, and experiences. Much of what makes this possible takes place inside the classroom. 


It’s important, therefore, to consider what kind of environment will help you thrive. Some MBA programs, for example, enroll several hundred students each year, while others take in smaller cohorts. 

The IMD MBA class of 2023 is diverse—made up of 36 nationalities—but is also small, numbering just 87 students. This was a key draw for Gianluca Perino (pictured) when considering his study destination. 

Having spent his career onboard ships while working for the Marina Militare and the US Navy, he was used to working within small, intimate groups. He felt the more personal IMD learning environment would be preferential for his development. 

“I don’t have a really strong background in business, so I want to be nurtured. I want attention from the faculty, and I also want stronger bonds because with stronger bonds you can really develop good relationships and networks,” he explains.

The school's location offers IMD MBA students plenty of opportunities to grow their networks further and to extend their learning environment outside the classroom, whether on campus or beyond. IMD is situated near the headquarters of corporate giants such as Cisco, Nestlé, Philip Morris, and Medtronic, as well as world-famous research hubs CERN and the EPFL Blue Brain Project—plus the Olympic Committee's headquarters. For downtime, Lausanne's setting next to Lake Geneva means access to excellent water sports, in addition to nearby skiing and hiking.

3. The MBA curriculum 

The structure of the MBA curriculum goes hand in hand with a business school’s learning environment. While MBA degrees are typically generalist programs teaching the fundamental areas of business, the contents and delivery of the MBA curriculum can differ. 

For example, interwoven throughout the year long IMD MBA experience is an emphasis on leadership, which is present in core and elective modules as well as experiential learning opportunities. 

“This was an attractive prospect for Anouk: “You have a coach, an analyst, that looks at you and how you act in a team and will give you feedback on how to become a better leader,” she says. 

“This hands-on curriculum for the leadership class was really interesting to me.”

Students also spend a significant portion of the program learning about cutting-edge business issues, including digital analytics, sustainability, AI and innovation.

Practical learning opportunities comprise 40% of the curriculum, providing students with the chance to apply their knowledge, skills, and leadership abilities. Particular experiential elements range from consulting projects, to international discovery expeditions, to internships. 

4. Your career plans 

Gianluca, like many MBA students across the globe, enrolled to pivot into a new career path. At the Marina Militare he’d risen to the role of department head, working as a senior operations manager, and after two years in the job he felt it was time for a change. 

“I could see that my learning curve was getting flatter and flatter. So it was time for me to get my feet on the ground,” he says. “I decided to do an MBA and change my career.” 

Anouk had different motivations. A life sciences engineering graduate, she’d focused on the pharmaceutical industry throughout her career and had specialized in advising pharmaceutical companies in her role at McKinsey.  

While she aimed to keep building her career in the industry, she wanted to leave the world of project-based work behind her and add to her highly technical expertise with broader business and management knowledge. 

“I’m an engineer by training, so to complement that with business acumen would mean that when I go into a role within the pharmaceutical domain I would still understand the molecules but also understand the business context better,” she says. 

Despite different professional goals, both Gianluca and Anouk felt that studying the MBA at IMD would provide the platform for success. 

“I had a really good career in the Navy, I couldn’t really complain or aspire to something higher, so I was like: ‘Okay, if I’m going to do this move, I want to go to a top school’,” Gianluca adds. 

So, when weighing up your MBA options it’s important to consider how each program can benefit you both personally and professionally. If it seems like a business school’s curriculum, learning environment, and career prospects are a good fit for your own goals, then that might be the MBA for you.