Over a decade ago, I earned my Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems at Western Michigan University. I stand by what I've said over the years, which is I felt the Haworth College of Business at WMU equipped me well to face the challenges of the business world. I also think the BBA program at HCOB is as good as any other BBA program in the state of Michigan (University of Michigan and Michigan State included). I have been very successful in my career since I graduated, but what I learned while at WMU was that higher education is what you make of it. I learned how to work hard, collaborate, lead teams, perform advanced problem solving, deal with difficult situations, just to name a few. These skills are the foundation of being successful in business. People have always said, it's not as important where you receive your undergrad degree from, as long as you have it. For the most part, I agree with that statement as long as you make an effort to get as much out of it as you can.
Which brings me to my next point...
On the contrary to above, in business people typically say it is more important to go to a top notch school for an MBA. I have always desired to earn a Master of Business Administration degree. Over the last 10+ years, I focused more on the specific technology I was using at the time (and earning certifications along the way), rather than advancing my career with higher education. In addition, my employer would not contribute at all to an MBA degree, so I never went back to school as a result. Now that I've switched companies and career focus to slightly less technical and more leadership, I am planning on applying to graduate schools and studying for the GMAT.
In evaluating the options, according to all of the "rankings" (which you may or may not hold stock in), there are only two programs in Michigan that are considered top tier MBA programs:
1. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor - http://www.bus.umich.edu/
2. Michigan State University - Eli Broad, http://www.bus.msu.edu/
Followed by several AACSB certified programs in my local area:
- Wayne State University - http://www.busadm.wayne.edu/
- University of Detroit Mercy - http://business.udmercy.edu
- University of Michigan Dearborn - http://umd.umich.edu/
- Oakland University - http://www.sba.oakland.edu/
Note: I have ruled out WMU, CMU, and EMU for various reasons, but these schools are also AACSB certified.
University of Michigan's Ross School of Business is a 60 credit (most MBA programs are 36 to 45), extremely expensive program which will probably cost around $90,000 or more to go part time, and take 5 to 8 years to complete. I cannot justify that cost or effort required at this point in my career, and I would never realize a positive ROI.
Michigan State University's program is a weekend lockstep accelerated program, which you complete on alternating fridays and weekends over an 18 month period. It is very intense and challenging program, and also expensive at the cost of $50,000. However the bright side is you are done in just 18 months. I will definitely look into this program more. Also offered is an EMBA program at an additional $27,000 expense.
Wayne State University surprised me, as it has the following rankings to make note of:
- Listed in Princeton Review's as one of the top 290 MBA programs
- #93 in the United States according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (only two higher are Michigan and MSU)
- National Science Foundation has WSU at #63
- Listed as one of America's Best Colleges in the 4th tier according to US News.
Who knows if any of this means anything, but one thing I do like is they offer the most flexibility. A student can choose to take individual classes on campus, at the satellite campus in Farmington Hills, or online. In fact, the online MBA is ranked #21 in the country according to GetEducated.com, higher than University of Wisconsin, Auburn, and University of Massachusetts to name a few. I will definitely consider this program and research more about it.
University of Detroit Mercy's MBA program is also intriging. The university's website states, "For the eighth consecutive year, University of Detroit Mercy is listed in the top tier of Midwestern Master's Universities in the 2009 edition of the U.S.News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges." The University was ranked one of the top 25 schools in its category, the highest-ranking school in Michigan. In the yearly guide, hitting newsstands this week, University of Detroit Mercy was also rated fifth in the "Great Schools, Great Prices" category. According to U.S. News, this ranking highlights the best financial value as it relates to a school's academic quality." Tuition seems reasonable, and scholarships are availabile for anyone scoring higher than 600 on the GMAT. I will also be considering UDM for an MBA.
University of Michigan-Dearborn also has a competitive MBA program structured similarly to the program down the road in Ann Arbor. One key difference is they offer evening and online courses as well, which makes it more convienient. Students can apply for waivers to bring the credits down from 60 credits if they have prior business school experience, but there are some significant restrictions. The "Michigan" reputation typically carries over somewhat to Dearborn's campus, but not entirely. I will likely apply here as well. However, I am not interested in a 60 credit MBA program, so I would need to see how this shakes out.
Oakland University has an strong reputation in the local southeast Michigan area, and is probably an underrated program. There is not as much information about this program available compared to the others, probably due to the smaller size. I will be looking into this program as well.
I will be blogging on my reasoning as I narrow down this decision further on which schools I am considering.