Having decided to do an MBA programme one needs to decide; from where. The choice of a B-School depends on the educational background, inclination and preferences and resources of the person and prevalent market conditions.
In case one is clear that one wants to be truly a global executive (meaning acceptability and employability anywhere in the world) or desires to settle abroad then one should obtain MBA degree from USA. Reason for suggesting USA is that in the foreseeable future their economy is unlikely to go down. Hence, better scope of employability. Further, MBA degree of USA is acceptable worldwide whereas degrees of other countries are less likely to be accepted in the USA. Europe does have very good business schools but Indians loose out in terms of getting visa or work permit for working in Europe. MBA from Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila and other good B-Schools from Asia and even Europe makes the person land up in good companies, quite often MNCs, in Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand etc. If one intends to do MBA as an academic pursuit, to be followed by a doctoral degree, then this does not hold good. One can go to study in any institution known for its area of excellence.
Indians wanting to settle down in India for social, personal or economy reasons should obtain MBA degree from a B-School in India. Indian employers always prefer an MBA from India because of relevance of course content to Indian conditions. They may accept very few from across the best B-Schools in the world for a number of reasons including cost to the company.
Should one settle for nothing but the Best? It is interesting to note that the kind of job offers made to, say, top 5% of the students in B-School ranking of 20 to 30 in USA are similar to the bottom 50% of the students in, say, top 7-8 ranking B-Schools in USA. In India too, the story is not very different. It may not be a bad idea to get into a slightly lower ranking B-School, especially if cost benefit analysis works, rather than waiting longer to get into the best.
Ideally the choice of B-School should depend on expected ‘value add’ and return on investment.
‘Value add’ means the transformation of a person, i.e. improvement in knowledge, skills and attitude, during the period of doing MBA. This is a function of reputation, rigour and ambience of the institute, the quality of faculty, infrastructure and peer group. It also depends in a large measure on the attitude, aptitude, likings and preferences of the student himself.
Return on investment may be seen differently in USA and India. In USA MBA programmes will generally cost USD 150 K to USD 300K and on completion compensation packages are also in the region of USD 100 K to 200 K. Thus, taking a loan is almost a necessity. In India, the fee structure varies drastically even within different kinds of Universities and autonomous institutions like IIMs and IITs. While deciding a B-School this needs to be seen and evaluated closely. It may make much more sense to go to a slightly lower ranked B-School if the fee difference is large.
Another factor to be considered is to go to a B-School known for a particular discipline for example Wharton is known for Finance and XLRI is known for HR.
Timing of doing MBA also matters. Those who join at boom times do not very often get the packages they expected as in two years the economy may have taken a down turn. The vice-versa is also true. If one can anticipate market conditions one can get in for higher education at a time when economy is going through a lean phase.
Unless programme is fully residential and run by old and established institution one should prefer to choose a location in metro and bigger towns for better interaction with industry and business people and even with government.functionaries and other social groups.
Students not having engineering and science background may find it difficult to study in institutions emphasising qants orientation. Engineering students generally have better choice in this matter.
To sum up, choice of a B-School should be made keeping in mind ones own likings, preferences, qualifications, and location and reputation of the institute and careful evaluation of value add and return on investment.