Like most MBA students, I want to work while attending the program. My girlfriend and cat aren’t moving, and I also don’t want to leave the notoriously expensive city of San Francisco. If I were planning to work in industries with established production cycles and predictable trends, then I wouldn’t worry so much about dropping from the workforce for a couple of years. Even banks and auto manufacturers, though, seem to be going through massive overhauls these days.
I might feel differently about moving if I weren’t in an area known for marketing employment and a wealth of business schools. I looked up the top full-time and part-time programs, and the Fortune 500 business, and the Bay Area seems like the perfect MBA incubator. For a commutable range, there is as much opportunity around here as I could find anywhere. The schools come in all flavors, but it takes a little effort to find statistics about any but the top 20 or so. I learned that once I searched within an area, and focused on business schools by specific interest, it’s easier to make side-by-side b-school comparisons. Full-time rankings are much easier to find that part-time rankings. US News & World Report, and Business Week seem to be the authorities on part-time programs in the US.
The publications that are known for their rankings seem to differ considerably, but they generally agree on the top tiers (which is all the information that they want to share, for free). When I checked out the major publications online, the “top 20” looked like similar lists. The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, US News & World Report, and a few other publications seem reliable, but I couldn’t tell if any one was the best overall authority. Conveniently, the part-time MBA programs in my area were ranked consistently the same.
I wish I’d thought of earlier, but it would have been a good idea to follow up on specific interests, like top tech programs, non-profit concentrations, or combined degree programs (e.g. MBA/JD). There are publications catering to a wide array of niche professional audiences, and they love to do rankings. Business Week even does good specialty rankings, for each business concentration.
I got lucky that I could just pick my area, and narrow it down by part-time availability. I could do without the pressure of feeling like I should apply to Stanford (which doesn’t have a part-time program). The top part-timers on the local list: Haas or Leavey?