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ARCHIVED  August 1, 1997

How to pick an MBA program

In many highly technical fields, an earned college degree may not be necessary to land a solid, high-paying job. However, top-level management positions in most business specialties will remain forever out of the reach of those who lack the MBA.

But, if you already hold down a demanding high-tech job, how can you find the time to earn that MBA that can serve as your ticket into the executive suite? And, once you find the time to pursue an MBA, how do you choose the “right” program?

An equal partnershipMost employers value an employee’s desire to upgrade educational preparedness. Many offer incentives for further education ranging from flex time work scheduling to course reimbursement. So, a good place to begin your degree “studies” is your company’s human-resources department.Even if your employer offers no reimbursement, you may be able to gain a financial advantage by deducting some or all of the cost of your MBA education from your taxes, You must meet two tests to qualify for the deduction.
1. The education must not be a requirement for the job you already hold, and;
2. The education must not prepare you for a job in a different professional field.
For example, an accountant may not deduct the cost of course work intended to lead to teacher certification in English.
Check with your tax preparer before you begin your proposed program to see if it qualifies for tax deduction.Accreditation
Virtually every college or university that offers an MBA program will be accredited by the regional accrediting authority, here the Western States Association of Colleges and Universities. However, it is far less likely that a specific MBA program will be accredited by the professional board which serves to accredit your proposed program.
Accrediting usually ensures a higher-quality program, because authorities who evaluate it consider factors such as course variety and content, class student/teacher ratios, library size and quality. Lack of program accreditation of itself does not mean a program is of poor quality; it may be too new, for example, to meet all the requirements, For established programs, however, it is a more reliable guide.Choose the correct specialty
Harvard’s Business School is noted for its case-study method, Penn’s Wharton School of Business for finance and the University of Chicago for economics.
This is not to say worthy programs are offered only at “name” schools, only that those schools’ names are often built on strength in specific areas of study.
One way to approach the problem is to find out from colleagues you respect or individuals who have achievements in the area in which you are interested which MBA programs they completed and what role it played in their professional careers.Finding the time
Earning an MBA as a full-time student takes from one to three years. Increasingly, MBA students are working professionals who must complete courses in the evenings or on weekends.
To meet this demand, many schools now offer MBA programs that may be completed over a period of years on Saturdays. These programs are popular with students because they don’t require leaving a job. They are popular with schools, too, enabling them to offer more courses taught by a broader range of faculty, many of whom are drawn from the business community.

In many highly technical fields, an earned college degree may not be necessary to land a solid, high-paying job. However, top-level management positions in most business specialties will remain forever out of the reach of those who lack the MBA.

But, if you already hold down a demanding high-tech job, how can you find the time to earn that MBA that can serve as your ticket into the executive suite? And, once you find the time to pursue an MBA, how do you choose the “right” program?

An equal partnershipMost employers value an employee’s desire to upgrade educational preparedness. Many offer incentives…

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