It would appear that in today’s day and age, an undergraduate diploma from a university doesn’t cut it anymore. As competition in the talent pool increases, employers are looking for more candidates with MBAs and similar postgraduate degrees.
Should an MBA be a prospective student’s course of action, how does he decide what school is the best to attend? Prestige? Level of difficulty? Cost? Which school is really the best? Luckily, the Graduate Management Association of Australia has taken the guesswork out of it for us. Based on their extensive research, the following ten universities have made it to the annual 5-Star rating list, ranking highest in terms of the best MBA programs.
1. Deakin University (Melbourne, VIC)
2. Edith Cowan University (Perth, WA)
3. University of Melbourne (Melbourne, VIC)
4. University of Queensland (Brisbane, QLD)
5. Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, QLD)
6. Queensland University of Technology (MBA Major) (Brisbane, QLD)
7. University of South Australia (Adelaide, SA)
8. University of Western Australia (Perth, WA)
9. University of Western Australia (MBA Advanced) (Perth, WA)
10. University of Wollongong (Wollongong, NSW)
MAKING THE GRADE
How does the Graduate Management Association of Australia determine which programs are the best? GMAA National Secretary Tony McArthur explains that when comparing five-star programs against the one-star programs, the three areas that stand out are staffing issues, entrance requirements and the actual educational components of the programs. He says, “In the staffing area, the five-star programs tend to have more staff per student and the staff have higher qualifications and more experience.
“With regard to entrance requirements, all of the five-star programs require an undergraduate degree whereas nearly half of the one-star programs do not require a degree. Also the five-star programs require more work and management experience.
“In the educational component area, the five-star programs tend to have a higher percentage of compulsory subjects compared to electives and the compulsory subjects provide a better coverage of the core areas considered desirable for an MBA program,” McArthur says.
DECIDING ON THE RIGHT UNIVERSITY
Now that you know what schools rank the highest, how do you decide where to go? McArthur says the first question a prospective student should ask themselves is how they want to study. Deciding whether you want real classroom experience or an online education should be easy to settle on. McArthur says, “If the face-to-face option is your preferred mode of study, then your choices are restricted to those programs offered in your immediate area. The online option enables you to consider programs outside of Australia and in other states. The trend seems to be that more business schools are offering online programs.”
Other factors to consider:
• If you are looking for programs that focus on particular industries (e.g. aviation, hospitality), then your choices are likely to be quite limited.
• For most people, the cost of the program will be a factor. Programs range from $17,000 to over $50,000.
• The reputation of the institution is important, as it is one of the issues a prospective employer will consider when reviewing CVs.
• If possible, talk to friends and colleagues that studied at particular institutions to get their views on the staff, subjects and an overall assessment of the program.
What about the students that are interested in working and earning their MBA at the same time?
McArthur says, “Firstly, what is the best type of study to undertake at this stage in your career? If you are currently working in a technical area and planning to stay there for the next several years, then a Masters that follows your undergraduate degree is possibly the best option. If you are looking to move into a more general management area, then an MBA may be the more appropriate option for someone who has spent all of their working life in a particular area of the company.”
“Next is the question of the time commitment and the likely changes to lifestyle. Someone in their 30s or 40s who is working full time, with family and social commitments has to recognize that undertaking postgraduate study will require a commitment of about 10-12 hours per week per subject for two to three years. An MBA is a big commitment and you need to accept that it will probably require a significant change to your lifestyle.”