A Master in Management (MIM) program is an investment - financially, but also in terms of your effort, time, and social life. Defining early your criteria about what you are looking for will help you enjoy your studies and profit from them afterwards. Here are some important criteria you may want to think about when deciding about which MIM program to choose.
1. Wanna be a generalist?
A Master in Management or Business aims at providing you with general management knowledge. By contrast, specialized masters focus on a specific area (e.g., the Master in Finance or the Master of Accounting). Are you sure you want a rather general managemen education?
2. Does the program offer electives?
Some Business Schools give the students a certain freedom of choice within the MIM programs. Thus specific core subjects have to be covered, but in addition it is not unusual for you to choose one or more specialisations. In practice this means that you don’t take all your courses together as one class, but that everyone can create their own timetable on the basis of their personal interests or their aimed goals.
3. Tuition fees
The tuition fees of the MIM programs on the market differ widely. Public universities often offer cheaper programs than private ones. Thus you can graduate as Master in Management for a few hundred Euros per semester – but at other schools you could have to come up with up to 30,000 Euro. Wether the price correlates with the quality in every case is doubtful. Interested parties should therefore compare the offered services extensively and picture what they get for their money. Therefore one must not forget that reputation also has its price – every applicant should be aware of this fact and decide if it is important to them. As alumni of renowned universities mostly have better chances to get a job the surcharge for the kudos of a university is often worth it. Although this often depends on what kind of employment the interested party aims for.
4. Business contacts
An important criteria for the choice of the Business School are the contacts in business, which are offered to the students. Many universities have numerous partner companies with which the students can establish ties during placements or projects. Interested parties in a degree course should inform themselves particularly, if the university offers a career service. This department, an inherent part of many Business Schools, takes care of career events and career advice for students. For instance a lot of universities offer CV or interview training to optimise the prospects of their graduates on the employment market.
5. How good is the career service?
In the career service universities differ widely. In Great Britain for example it is unusual for companies to recruit on campus whereas this nearly naturally belongs to a good career service in a German Business School. But also within the same country not all universities offer the same commitment when it is about helping their students towards their career. In this matter it is worth it to asking beforehand and getting a detailed description of all the activities.
6. Networks for life?
The composition of the students of a Business School is not the only enlightening source of information. The alumni are even more interesting. Many Business Schools administer alumni networks, which "hold together" all alumni of a university worldwide.
The significance of alumni networks shouldn’t be underestimated. A MIM graduate who wants to start a successful career often needs the right contacts – it is good if you are already being supplied with these by Alma Mater. Furthermore it can be illuminating to discuss matters with alumni of the respective programs. Thereby you can find out quickly which careers could be achieved with the study program you are focusing on and which companies the alumni ended up with.
It is not unusual that MIM-alumni have key positions in big companies. Provided that they are content with their former university they will always gladly employ alumni of the Alma Mater, because they can literally assess through which education the graduates have gone.
7. Accreditations and quality
Accreditations can help to find Business Schools which are proven to offer programs of high quality. The three best known accreditation bodies for management Masters are EQUIS, AACSB and FIBAA.
EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) has existed since 1997, the accreditation was brought to life by the European Foundation for Management Development. This is a European standard for Business Schools.
On the other hand AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) is given out internationally by AACSB, who has got Harvard as one of its founder members. This accreditation is probably the most important worldwide.
Finally the FIBAA (Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation) is a tri-national foundation (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) which also certifies the quality of degree courses.
It is noteworthy that EQUIS and AACSB give their accreditation to the whole institution, while FIBAA only awards single programs. That means, if a Business School has the EQUIS accreditation it is valid for all the programs this institution offers. Though if for example the MBA program of a university receives the Fibaa accreditation this doesn’t inevitably mean that the MIM program received it as well – and vice versa.
Those individuals who aim for an international career should also pay attention if the Master in Management degree course has an international accreditation. For someone who ‘only’ wants to work in the German speaking area a degree course which is ‘only’ awarded from Fibaa doesn’t need to be bad.
It costs the universities a lot of time and effort to obtain these three accreditations because a large amount of formalities have to be dealt with, visits of the universities by inspectors take place and firm standards concerning the curriculum and many other categories have got to be abided or still need to be established. That is why often universities say that an accreditation is "in progress". This process can take quite a while and in the end, you as an applicant won’t know what the outcome will be. That’s why it is good for you to choose a university which already has at least one of these accreditations. If the university is just in progress to get another one: so much the better.
- Please read also our comment "How important are accreditations?" in our Master in Management Forum
8. Reputation and rankings
What reputation a university has cannot only be read out of the seals of accreditation, but also out of which place they have achieved in rankings. The Master in Management Ranking of the Financial Times is to be named here in particular. It evaluates the Master degree courses prior to the salary of alumni three years after their degree, to their position in their company and their world wide mobility. Also the internationality of the students and the relation between tuition fees and the expected salaries are taken into account.
As you can see, rankings cover specific aspects of the programs. That’s why they should basically be approached with caution. Nevertheless you can make the most out of them for your own purposes. If someone for example wants to take the Financial Times Ranking as a guide to find the most appropriate Master in Management for himself he should think beforehand about which criteria really are most important for him. Next to the overall position of a program the ranking also shows the position of all the sub items. For those people for who internationality for example is especially important they should go for one of the universities that scored well in the according evaluation criteria. So mainly rankings take over the work to check many criteria for students, which maybe they couldn’t easily check themselves. There may even be reasons to choose a program that is not included in the rankings.
9. Listen to your gut feeling
Many criteria important to the individual can best be evaluated by reading the curriculum carefully and by visiting the university in question. If there is the offer to attend a lecture you should really seize this opportunity. Thereby you don’t only get to know the methods of teaching and the atmosphere in the university, but you will also meet students with whom you can exchange information yourself which goes beyond the marketing statements of glossy brochures.
By Thomas Graf