The MBA Family: A Roundup and Overview

Not Sure which MBA program is right for you?  Download a free guide!At its core, the MBA is a graduate program in business administration for professionals who seek knowledge, skills, a credential, and/or a network to advance in business and to maximize their business performance.  While “MBA” makes many people automatically think of a two-year, full-time program, in recent years the variations on the MBA theme have multiplied, in order to meet changing and diversifying needs and interests of students and organizations.  Here’s a roundup of the main MBA options that are currently available, and their benefits and drawbacks.

Full-Time MBA Programs: This is a two-year, full-time program with an internship in the summer.  It targets business (and sometimes other) professionals with roughly 3-8 years of experience.  Obtaining a new position post-MBA is often a major focus of students, and recruiting by potential employers is a significant benefit of attending a full-time MBA.

Pros: close and sustained interaction with other full-time students, ideal for career changers, internship opportunity, strong recruiting.

Cons: significant opportunity cost, time away from industries that are undergoing rapid change.

Part-Time MBA Programs: Ideal for people who don’t want to leave their company or industry for any significant period or who can’t afford to stop working. Such programs target people who are employed full time, under the premise that students’ ongoing work will inform classroom discussion and projects. Part-time MBA students trend a little older than full-time MBA students.  While these programs have traditionally served local students, increasingly they are offering varied structures and online components to attract distance students.  They do not generally offer access to recruiters.  Often admission is less competitive than for the same school’s full-time program, enabling part-time students to obtain a “brand” they may not qualify for otherwise.

Pros: can continue to work/earn, apply learning in real time, access to top-tier programs.

Cons: take longer, no internship, usually no recruiting, it can be grueling to work and study simultaneously.

One-Year MBA Programs:  Of course, most European full-time MBA programs are one-year.  Some top US MBA programs, e.g., Cornell’s Johnson and Northwestern’s Kellogg, have offered one-year options for a while, and others are joining the fray as demand for such programs grows.  Often these one-year programs have special requirements, such as some prior business education or an advanced degree.  They are ideal for people who don’t need an internship and who have a strong base of experience; not usually the best path for career changers.

Pros: the intensity of a full-time program with less opportunity cost, usually regular recruiting, ability to quickly rejoin a fast-moving industry.

Cons: no conventional internship, less time to network with students and faculty.

Executive MBA Programs:  EMBAs are part-time programs targeting seasoned managers and entrepreneurs, typically people from mid-thirties to late forties (depending on the program) whose rise to senior manager level is imminent or who are already in senior management.  There is range within this category in terms of desired/required length of experience.  While coursework covers the same topics as regular MBA programs, it’s developed and presented with the higher level perspective.  A great benefit of EMBAs is the chance to network and form relationships with peers from a variety of industries and functions at a career phase when a fresh perspective is quite valuable but sometimes hard to obtain.  These programs don’t target career changers, but are increasingly used by and open to them, even though most EMBA programs don’t offer formal recruiting.

Pros: can apply learning immediately at work, breadth of exposure at a pivotal professional moment, valuable credential.

Cons: challenge of school plus demanding career and personal/family responsibilities, usually no formal recruiting for career changers.

Specialized MBA Programs: These programs offer the MBA course with focus on a specific industry or function; there are such options among both regular and executive MBA programs.  They vary in their formats and approaches.  Boston University’s Public & Nonprofit MBA is an example of a two-year specialized MBA; UC Irvine’s Health Care Executive MBA (HCEMBA) is an example of a specialized EMBA.  A relatively new one-year specialized MBA is Cornell Johnson’s Tech MBA.

Pros: intensive focus on area of interest with coursework adapted accordingly, network of colleagues with related experience and goals.

Cons: missing out on the diverse perspectives from other industries/sectors that can refresh and invigorate your thinking.

While you can’t apply to two different types of MBA programs at the same school in the same admissions cycle, you can do so in different cycles.  And you can apply to different types of programs at different schools at the same time.  For example, if someone is between regular and executive MBA in terms of age or length of experience, he could apply to some regular MBAs that trend older and some exec MBAs that trend younger.  Or someone may apply to full-time MBA programs but also apply to a part-time program nearby as an acceptable back-up.

Please do keep in mind, and address in your application, the nuances of the type of MBA as well as the particular program!

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs
Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply
Tips for Applying to Part-time MBA Programs
• Ace the EMBA

MBA 2016 – READY, SET, GO!

Download: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply

Deadlines are sooner than you think. Are you prepared?

It’s not even spring yet. So why am I nagging you to get moving on your MBA application prep?

Not just because those Round 1 deadlines creep up with wicked stealth and speed. But also because there is so much you can still do between now and then to improve your candidacy (sometimes a lot, sometimes on the margins, but margins matter). Also, preparing now will enable you to apply to more programs earlier, and therefore to adjust strategy in Round 2 if necessary.

So, what should you be doing NOW?

First, two obvious things.

GMAT: I’ve seen too many people leave the GMAT till late summer or early fall, get a lower score than they expect, and have to recalculate their plans. If you don’t have a GMAT score yet, NOW is the time to prepare and take the GMAT, ideally by end of spring. Then, if your score isn’t realistic for your schools of choice, you have time to retake the test, reconsider your target schools, or both. And you will have it behind you when you focus on the applications.

SCHOOL RESEARCH: It’s best to visit schools when classes are in session. So NOW is the ideal time to research schools for a preliminary list. I developed an easy-to-use resource, Best MBA Programs, A Guide to Selecting the Right One, to walk you through this process. This effort will also get you thinking about your profile strategically.

Then there are the less obvious things.

ACADEMIC RECORD: Is your academic record a potential weakness? There is time (not much), NOW, to take a relevant course or two, complete it, and have an A or two to report to the adcom as evidence of your ability to excel academically.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Not sure whom to ask for recommendations? Sort it out NOW, while there’s time to weigh the pros and cons of various options, to possibly broach the issue (directly or indirectly) with people, and adapt as needed. You do know whom you’ll ask? NOW is time to enhance your positive visibility to them, so they can’t help but write a scintillating letter.

LEADERSHIP: You can improve – deepen, broaden, refine – your leadership NOW and every day before your application. Whether or not you have a formal leadership role, you can always find ways to exercise informal leadership. And you can’t have too much leadership in an MBA application. If there isn’t space to write about it in essays, portray it in your resume.

GOALS: Naturally, since you’re planning to apply for an MBA, you know what your goals are. But what are you going to say about them of interest? About your planned industry, company, function? Read. Books, journals, company reports, not just the WSJ. And do informational interviews (use your undergrad alumni network). An interview needn’t be longer than 10 minutes with two good questions to be illuminating! Interesting, informed perspective on your goals will make your essay jump out from the sea of merely competent essays. But do this research NOW, to digest and integrate it well.

RESUME: NOW is also the perfect time to prepare or adapt your resume for business school. You can get it at least 95% done, and adjust as needed for any new developments later. This way, if you have a chance to visit or school or meet with an adcom member earlier than you planned, you’re ready.

Six months and counting to round 1 deadlines…

Download your free copy of Navigating the MBA Maze!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply
Best MBA Programs, A Guide to Selecting the Right One
5 Tips to Assess Your MBA Profile

London Business School Master In Finance 2015 Essay Tips

Click here for more information on LBSThe relatively short LBS MFin essay questions, together, convey the adcom’s interest in both who you are and how you envision and plan your career.  Given that your classmates will be experienced finance professionals (the average work experience is six years), it’s important to deliver throughout and “across” the essays mature, informed insights and perspectives derived from your experience in your particular area of finance.

The essay questions are: 

1. What is it about Finance that interests and inspires you? (300 word limit) 

Be yourself.  No need to wear a halo; while some people are inspired by the belief that finance can change the world for the better, others feel equally inspired by the high stakes and fast pace, or a technical or intellectual dimension.  

This essay work best as a story – simply tell the story of how you “fell in love” with finance (whether industry or function or both—what finance means and looks like to you).  This approach will allow the reader to see through your eyes what interests and inspires you about the field.  And it will inherently lead you to provide the detail and anecdote to make the essay memorable and vivid.

2. What role do you see yourself in immediately after the programme? How will the MiF build on your current skills and experience to help you achieve this? In what geographical region do you see yourself working in immediately after the programme? If you are not successful in your first choice of role, is there another role you would consider? (500 word limit) 

This is really four questions. You needn’t answer them in order, and I suggest combining the “geographical region” answer with the answer to the first question about where you see yourself immediately post-program.  That discussion should include details such as company or type of company, specific positions and titles, and what you want to achieve in that role and why – your “vision” for this step in your career. Should you mention long-term goals?  Sure, if you wish, but briefly.  Sometimes they are important for understanding your short-term goals.  The immediate goal should be consistent with the message in the first essay, and should be a realistic target that’s also appropriately ambitious.

The final question asks for your “Plan B.” In describing it, give a brief rationale as well for why it’s a suitable and appealing path.

3. What value will you add to London Business School? (200 word limit)

Feel free to discuss relevant factors beyond finance here (note the question asks not what you’ll bring to the MFin program, but to London Business School).  Some possible topic areas include unusual work experience or industry/functional exposure, personal interests (though please don’t say traveling), formative academic or social experiences, distinctive or unusual aspects of your background, etc. Think about what will round out your profile in an appealing and relevant way to prospective classmates.  With only 200 words, don’t discuss more than 3 things; you’ll still need example and detail to make the topics credible and interesting.   

Deadlines:
Want more info on LBS? Click here

If you would like professional guidance with your LBS MFin application, please consider Accepted’s essay editing and admissions consulting or our Masters in Finance Application Package.

Click here for Must-Know info & Advice for Students Abroad

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

MBA in Sight: Focus on Finance
Master in Finance: What You Need to Know
• Princeton University Master in Finance: Is It Right for You, and Are You Right for Princeton?

LBS Executive MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Click here to learn more about LBSIn the LBS EMBA website landing page, a short introduction to the program includes the words “transform,” “transition,” and “catalyst.”  Also, “accelerate” and “propel.”  This is a clear message from the adcom: the program goes beyond conveying necessary skills for senior managers; it is for people who have a dynamic sense of their future and a willingness to change and grow, as well as to study and learn.  Your essays should mirror and convey this dynamic sense, this energy, this vigor.

Question 1: How has the scope of your management experience affected your career objectives? (500 word max)

This is a goals question, albeit rather indirect.  And the question itself reflects the dynamic perspective: rather than “what” your career goals are, it asks you to present them as a part of an ongoing process.  

It’s an essay for which the most work might come before you write it – in the preliminary thinking process.  Make it an exercise: FIRST, define your career objectives (short and longer term).  SECOND, identify what factors influenced the development of those objectives.  THIRD, of those factors, single out those related (directly and/or indirectly) to your management experience.  Now, you’ve got the raw material for your essay.

In the actual essay, you could start with career objectives and work back to portray the related management experience – or vice versa.  Either way, be specific in all aspects – make your goals concrete, and use anecdote and detail in describing the influential management experience.

Question 2: What was your response to a piece of feedback that you have received regarding an area of weakness?  (500 words max)

The adcom wants to see how frankly you portray the feedback and your own shortcoming, and how insightfully you contextualize your experience.  Secondarily, it’s about change –did you grow and change as a result of the feedback?

This essay will be most compelling and engaging if written as a story.  Start right in with the story’s setting – where, who, when (ideally make it a fairly recent experience, and one that holds some meaningful stakes).  Then progress through the story, highlighting not just what you and the other party said and did, but also your thinking as the story progresses.  Finally, give a short example of how you have applied this feedback (or your learning from this feedback experience) subsequently – in other words, how you grew.

Question 3 (500 words max):  Please choose ONE essay from the following two options:

If you could choose any three people who have ever lived to join you for dinner, who would you invite and why?

OR

If you were on the cover of any publication in 10 years, what would the headline and the content of the article be?

If the first two questions are rooted in real-world, concrete experience, this question urges you to “play” a little and use your imagination, wit, creativity, and possibly broader passions in answering.

Which should you answer?  Both are equally good; it depends on which serves your needs and interest best.

There are various viable and effective approaches to this essay. One is “gut instinct” and personal appeal.  I.e., if one of these questions strikes a chord with you, engages you, and you have an idea that you like, probably it will be an effective essay.   Go with it!  BUT, do apply some objective, focused analysis as well.  Ensure that your content truly illuminates you in some new and fresh way relevant to the application, and do use detail and example to make your essay credible and vivid.  

Another approach is strategic.  If your imagination isn’t tickled by these questions, instead analyze and plan.  What relevant and interesting aspects of your profile aren’t yet portrayed (or portrayed adequately) in the application?  Identify one or two such points, and work back from that to find suitable topics for one of the two questions.  BUT: don’t be too heavy handed with the essay, which wouldn’t align with the question’s tone.

Random pitfalls:

• If you choose the first question, please don’t use very obvious or overly angelic people (I’ve seen this essay answered with Gandhi and Mother Teresa more often than I can believe over 15 years.)  Rather, discuss people who show your creative thinking and/or are personally meaning to you.

• If you choose the second question, don’t turn the essay into a second goals essay.  Ensure that it extends the portrayal of you in some way.

 Deadlines:

For September 2015 and January 2016 start:  Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis within 2 weeks of receipt.  A final decision will come 6 to 8 weeks after submission.

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

Ace the EMBA
• School-Specific EMBA Application Essay Tips
• The GMAT and EMBA Programs

Global EMBA 2015 Essay Tips

Click here to learn more EMBA essay tips

You need to know what “global leader” means to you.

The Global EMBA has 2 program options: EMBA-Global Americas & Europe which combines the strengths of Columbia University and London Business School; and EMBA-Global Asia, with Columbia University, London Business School, and Hong Kong University Business School.  

Of course all MBA and EMBA applications are about “fit.”  The Global EMBA is too – just more so.  This adcom really focuses on fit, because the program is so unique and intense.  And the concept of “global leader” is a critical part of that fit.  How it’s embodied will be unique to each applicant; ensure that your essays reflect your own mindset and vision of global leadership.  

The adcom also looks for applicants who truly understand and will make productive use of this distinctive educational opportunity, which comprises multiple campuses and schools each with its own particular focus, opportunities, and areas of excellence.  

The three essay questions vary in approach, thus requiring you to present yourself effectively from different angles.  There’s a fairly classic goals essay, a “story” (behavioral) essay, and an open “statement.”  The challenge is to employ a consistent individual voice while also adapting it to the various essay types.

EMBA GLOBAL ESSAY QUESTIONS

Essay 1 (maximum 500 words)

Why do you wish to participate in the EMBA-Global programme? What do you hope to experience and how will participation in this programme help you to achieve your objectives?

Here’s that goals question.  First a note about the nuance of the question: notice the words wish, hope, experience, and participate/participation.  These words imply an immersive, personal, community, collaborative orientation.  In the essay (and indeed throughout the application) show how you fit with this holistic approach.

Structure: I’ve found that it’s intuitive and logical to start the essay by discussing your goals – the objectives at the very end of the question.  (And add a word about what motivates them.)  You will then naturally move into what you hope to experience from the program, because your professional goals create your learning needs.  This part can (indeed should) include a personal component as well.  To address participation, discuss elements beyond the classroom where you will learn and contribute, such as clubs, social interactions, etc.

Essay 2 (maximum 500 words)

Please describe a situation either work or personal where you faced a particular challenge. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience about your own strengths and personal development needs?

This is the story.  I suggest selecting a topic that’s relatively recent.  Make it a situation with some significant stakes, and one that yielded meaningful insight, growth, and change.  

Structure: Jump right into the story.  Avoid preambles that give away the ending!  This straightforward approach grips the reader and frees up space for detail and narrative, which is the way to grip the reader.  As you walk through what happened, highlight your actions and add in snippets of what you were thinking (and even feeling).  Conclude with a paragraph reflecting on what you learned about your strengths and development needs.

Personal statement (maximum 500 words)

Please tell us about yourself and your background. How do you embody the characteristics of a future global leader? The objective of this statement is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally.

First, think.  Selecting content is not so easy when faced with an open question such as this.  There is no one formula that will work for everyone.  Some people might best focus on aspects of their cultural milieu and its formative influence on their values and perspective.  Others might focus on pivotal experiences during university, others yet on influential role model(s) or relationships.  Many people will appropriately discuss more than one of these things.

The adcom knows that the term “global leader” is abstract and that it will be manifested uniquely in each “real” global leader.  So rather than trying to fit your experiences to the concept of global leader, work from the other direction: start with your experiences and background and elucidate how they will help make you a unique, individual global leader.  

Last but not least, you need to know what “global leader” means to you and what kind of global leader you aspire to be.  You can’t just use the phrase without defining it for the adcom.   You have to create the picture.

Remaining deadlines:

EMBA Global Americas & Europe:  02 March 2015

EMBA-Global Asia:  20 March 2015
Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!
Cindy Tokumitsu

By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

• School-Specific Executive MBA Essay Tips
• The GMAT and EMBA Programs
• Tips for Executive MBA Reapplicants