Importance of MBA School’s Reputation?

William writes:
I currently live in Pittsburgh PA. I eventually want to live in Cincinnati OH. Having said that I am the process of deciding which MBA program to attend. If I am not going to go to a top-tier school (Ivy League Maxwell School of Business Stanford etc) does it matter which program I attend? My two choices are either University of Pittsburgh or Robert Morris College. University of Pittsburgh is a little bit better known. When it comes
right down to it do employers look at the degree or the school or both and does it all matter if it isn’t a top-tier school?

The Career Doctor responds:
Both. Unless you are going to a top-tier MBA program it’s my firm belief that the most
important factors when choosing an MBA program are: (1) scope and breadth of reputation (2) strength of the MBA placement (3) fit with education program and (4) costs and financial assistance.
Scope and breadth of reputation. You should do some research with various employers and recruiters as to the strength of an MBA program. Many schools now offer MBAs and while the degree is the key the school’s reputation is critical. And if you are confident that for the next five years or so you are going to live in a certain area then I would focus my attention on the schools with the greatest reputation in that area. Once you’re about five years out from your MBA where you got it won’t matter except for bragging rights in the locker room.
Strength of MBA placement. You want an MBA program that can deliver the companies and recruiters to you so that you have multiple job offers. Placement is related to a program’s reputation but a school can have a solid reputation with a weak placement program. Ask for placement results.
Fit with education program. There are numerous types of MBA programs from what I call vanilla programs (usually one-year programs) to very specialized MBA for medical
professionals educational leaders etc. You need to find a program that offers the specific classes and education you need to move to your next career step.
Costs and financial assistance. The ideal scenario of course is when your current employer pays for your MBA. When that’s not the case you need to take a hard look at the costs any possible financial assistance and your expected financial returns from the MBA … think of it as a cost-benefit analysis for each MBA program.
I’ve completed an article on this subject and it has a lot more depth of information
analysis and resources than I can offer in this space. Please read: The Master of Business Administration: Is the MBA Worth the Time Effort and Cost?.