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Could pursuing an MBA be your next career move? If your goals include climbing the corporate ladder, starting your own company or becoming an expert in a particular area of business, the answer might be yes. U.S. News is here to help you explore business school options and what you can do with an MBA.
As an unbiased resource, we use data and expert interviews to provide prospective business school students with advice and knowledge that can help them make informed decisions.
We use data to rank the Best Business Schools, including part-time programs and specialties like business analytics and accounting. We also have profiles on individual schools that feature information such as the acceptance rate and required fees. Sign up for a Business School Compass account to unlock this data and more.
Explore U.S. News’ library of resources to help you prepare for business school, including learning how work experience influences MBA admissions, key differences between the GRE and the GMAT exams, and how to choose the program that best fits your goals.
Create a free U.S. News account and use our My Schools tool, where you can save schools and track your application status.
How Long Is Business School?
An MBA application is made up of multiple components, and business school hopefuls should allow themselves ample time to complete each part of the process.
If you’re required to take the GRE or GMAT exam, you need to study for it and earn a good score. Some MBA programs are test-optional, meaning they don’t require a GRE or GMAT score for application, and others offer a test waiver under certain circumstances.
It’s common for MBA candidates to be working professionals rather than undergrad students going directly into a master’s program, so work experience is often a factor in admissions decisions. Work requirements vary between schools, and quality may matter more than quantity when it comes to your professional experience.
You’ll also need quality recommendation letters and a strong resume, as well as a personal statement detailing why you want to attend a specific business school and how an MBA can help you achieve your career goals.
You may be invited to interview as part of the admissions process, so be sure you’re prepared to answer common interview questions as well as some hardballs.
Your admission into an MBA program may partially depend on whether the schools you apply to have high acceptance rates or low ones.
What Do You Learn in Business School and Why Enroll?
Business school students develop skills that will help them professionally. Some students choose a concentration or specialization in which to become an expert, while others are generalists who study a variety of business aspects.
Reasons for enrolling in an MBA program are as varied as the career paths the degree offers. Some students see it as a step on the road to a C-suite office, while others seek expertise in a particular field and aspiring entrepreneurs enroll to learn about running their own business.
Is Business School Worth It?
Business school might be worth it for you if obtaining an MBA helps you reach your career goals or desired salary. As you weigh this decision, consider the potential short- and long-term benefits of going back to school.
One way to evaluate whether business school is worth it is to look at the return on your financial investment. Does an MBA have serious potential to help you land a job with a lucrative salary? If so, this could be helpful when you’re paying off student loan debt you may accrue.
Aside from financial benefits, earning an MBA could be fulfilling for your career and possibly accelerate your path to a leadership position. Roles that often attract business school grads include marketing manager or database administrator, but an MBA also might be helpful in other types of careers, like entertainment or sports management.
How Much Does Business School Cost?
Full-time, out-of-state tuition at the business schools that top U.S. News’ list of best MBA programs can cost upwards of $70,000 per year.
The price tag for an MBA varies according to multiple factors, though. Tuition at public universities is usually lower than at private schools, and in-state tuition is typically lower than out-of-state tuition. You may consider exploring options for earning your MBA online as well.
Scholarships and other financial aid can help alleviate some costs associated with business school. Some employers subsidize their employees’ MBA degrees or reimburse tuition if the employee meets obligations like continuing to work with the company after graduation, so check with your employer to learn whether this is an option for you.
When Should I Apply to Business School?
Business schools typically allow prospective students to apply three or four times each year. Generally, more spots – and scholarship dollars – are available in the earlier application rounds, so you have a better chance of being admitted then. Round one is usually in the fall, round two in mid-January and round three in the spring, but refer to the schools you’re interested in for exact dates.
But don’t rush to apply early; submitting an application that’s not your best work can cost you a spot in a program. Writing a personal statement, building your professional resume and taking an exam, if applicable, require time, so apply when you’re comfortable with everything you have to offer. You should start preparing for business school applications about a year and a half to two years before you actually go through the application process.
Following a plan can help you stay on top of deadlines so you’re not scrambling to get everything done at the last minute.