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Post-Graduate Series Part Four: MBA

Old 10-01-2008 at 07:00 PM   #1
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Post-Graduate Series Part Four: MBA
Post-Graduate Series Part Four: Masters of Business Administration (MBA)


It seems more and more people I know are thinking, or planning on going into an MBA program, even if they arenít in a business-related program now. Like previous articles in the Post-Graduate Series, this article will focus on various components of an MBA program, from the application to what to expect from the classes itself. So what is so great about having a Masters of Business Administration? Read on to find out!

As I alluded to a few sentences previous, you do not need to be in a program in business for your undergraduate degree in order to go into an MBA. It is not unusual in a program (especially McMasterís MBA) to have students from all disciplines, including science, humanities, social science, engineering and commerce. However having a business degree may allow you to grasp some concepts faster or easier, and may even allow you to waive some courses.

The key to acceptance in any MBA program is being employable. This will come from paid-work experience, as well as what you can gain through co-op placements, internships and volunteering. Just because you are getting paid (or you are not) doesnít mean the experience will not be valuable. True, itís nice to get paid (and paid well), but sometimes the experience you get as a volunteer will teach you more employability skills than a job would.

Not all MBA programs are the same. There are three in Ontario (McMaster, Windsor and Brock) that you can apply to without having any full-time work experience. Others need up to five consecutive years (i.e. no summer jobs) worth of experience. Thus, some of the application requirements are slightly different for each school, however; they all require the same general things. They are test scores (coming from the GMAT [Graduate Management Admission Test], and if applicable the TOEFL), workplace experience, leadership capabilities, business aptitude, community involvement, breadth of character, and overall contribution to society. Some schools focus more on the GMAT, while others focus more on the other areas. The GMAT is composed of three parts: a verbal part, a mathematical part, and a written essay. The suggested minimum score is 600. There is also a suggested grade point average that you must obtain to be considered into the program. At McMaster for example it is a B (or 8) average over the most two recent years of study.

Like many of the other post-graduate programs you can apply to, the MBA also requires letters of reference. You usually need about three one to two of which are academic, and one to two of which are from employers. Again this varies from school to school.

Applications for MBA programs can also be a little bit on the costly side, similar to the medical school and teachers college programs that have been mentioned in earlier articles. Why? I donít really know. However, be prepared to pay anywhere from $75-$200 for each application. In addition, tuition is also very expensive. It is approximately $30, 000 a year, from what I have researched from a few Ontario schools. However, having an MBA can allow you to make approximately $10, 000 to $30, 000 more than someone with only a bachelorís degree. So although it costs a lot for you to get that education, it will likely yield you a better salary.

Once the application is received, students are selected for interviews. It is here that you want to make yourself stand out. One way to do this is by showing off your employability skills. This can be doing by creating a good resume that highlights key tasks and positions you took on at your jobs (part-time, full-time or volunteer), and what the results were. You should also take care to mention if it pleased your supervisor, if it was innovative, and if there were quantitative results. You may also wish to get used to answering behaviour-based interview questions, as they are frequently used to evaluate potential applicants. Because you are competing for a spot with many other people, you want to think what makes you stand out from the rest; emphasizing experiences that may have been unique or emphasise specific skills.

As I have mentioned at several points already, each MBA program varies from each other. Degrooteís co-op program is the oldest program in Canada, and thus they have established relationships with many different potential employers. Windsor and Laurier also have co-op programs, but because they are much newer they do not have the same relationship with large companies. The MBA programs at Rotman (U of T), Ivey (UWO) and Queen's are supposed to be equivalent to the Ivy League schools of the United States, but their fees are much higher, and they do not offer a co-op option. Some schools also offer the MBA at different rates of study; some schools you need only take a few courses a year and finish when is convenient for you, while others you must finish in a certain amount of time. All of these things must be considered before you determine what school is right for you.

Like other post-graduate programs, a Masters of Business Administration requires a lot of thought and planning over the course of your undergraduate education. So start researching MBA programs early-on if you think it is a path you will one day wish to take.

Special thanks goes to
Kirsten Anwender for all of her help with this article!
McMaster Combined Honours Cultural Studies & Critical Theory and Anthropology: 2008
McMaster Honours English with a minor in Indigenous Studies: 2010
Carleton University Masters of Arts in Canadian Studies: 2012 (expected)

We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed in universities, looking uncomfortably into the world we inherit. -- Port Huron Statement

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