How to choose the right MBA programme – Price to quality relation

Choosing the right MBA programme is becoming a more and more difficult task. This is due to several reasons including, but not limited to a wide array of study modes, pricing of programs, possibility for specialization, ranking position or career prospects. And while all of those reasons are important, today we will look at one very common, if not the most common way that MBA programmes are compared against one another, namely, the price to quality relation.

How to Choose the right MBA?

First and probably the most important thing to consider is the personal and professional goals one has that motivate willingness to study for an MBA programme. Without having a holistic view of the motivations, understanding of one’s career goals, an MBA will not be as useful but will simply become a tick-boxing exercise without solid foundations. Many applicants are swayed by the salary and possibility of promotion which is absolutely fine so-long as there is a clarity as to why they should take up an MBA. It will also enable them to set goals during their studies.

Geographical location of the programme can be an attractive reason as to why someone chooses one MBA or another. However, one thing worth remembering is that the location itself should not form the main argument. After all, MBA studies are not holidays and so the location aspect could be taken into account provided there is a solid reason behind it, for example a thriving job market. This is the main reason many international students choose Munich as their destination. The city is a powerhouse for Germany and a very significant location for global brands which naturally makes it attractive in terms of quality of life but also job prospects.

Furthermore, with initiatives such as Triple-M Career Pathways, students of MBA programs gain an additional value from their studies thanks to a thorough preparation for succeeding on the job market. The pathway takes students through a range of workshops including CV clinics, interview practice and networking as well as personalised career coaching to understanding their strengths, weaknesses and better defining their career goals. Then in the second step evaluating the market, its needs and what the employers are looking for. In the last step, it’s all about application and matching the right candidate with the right job. All this can be considered an added value to MBA students aspiring for career and salary advancement and it’s also something that Munich Business School offers as an essential element of the MBA programme here.

To simplify the selection of MBA programs, many potential applicants seek comfort in rankings and go with the reputation of those who compile them. This is a good way to gather data as rankings are based merely on data submitted by the institutions or their alumni. This gives some idea of how satisfied the students are but also how happy they are to share their pre- vs. post- graduation salaries and many other information. As such, although they are generally reliable the position in the ranking depends on numerous factors which means rankings can be consulted but not used as a decisive element. Nowadays, FT rankings are the most popular and looking at their recent advancement, more emphasis will come from aspects such as employability, diversity and ROI. To date, salary increases proved to be the leading metric for rankings such as FT which is understandable as MBA programs were mainly seen in the light of investment targeted at increasing one’s salary. We also have rankings that are increasing in importance, for example, the CEO Mag ranking which focuses on marrying exceptional quality with great ROI. The ranking segments schools into tiers and an example of great performance is consistent achievement of remaining within the same tier over time which provides a good idea of consistency which is what Munich Business School is after.

“Highly recognized in the industry, the benchmark is based on a variety of established criteria that determine the quality and success of an MBA program. These criteria include faculty quality, international diversity, class size, accreditation, faculty-to-student ratio, price, international exposure and career development opportunities.”

Felix Ewald, Head of Marketing at Munich Business School

Overall, there are many rankings on the market including the FT, CEO Mag but also The Economist, QS and Bloomberg run their own versions focusing on different methodologies and using different metrics. There are also local rankings including reputable Wirtschafts Woche Hochschulranking run by a well-known German business magazine. As a leading go-to information source for German businesses, the magazine is a very serious quality gatekeeper when it comes to the business world. Munich Business School ranked as the best private business school from German employer’s perspective for the fourth time in a row.

Another very important thing to consider is whether the MBA degree is accredited and recognised. In a world where MBA programs compete fiercely on the market, lack of governance meant that many new-market shenanigans offer MBA degrees at half the price without making it expressly clear that the degree does not carry credits and may not be recognised. Some non-accredited or non-recognized schools partner up with those who have such credentials but such MBA degrees in a way defeat a purpose as the students could as well just apply to the accredited and recognized school. Potential employers will almost certainly have a look at the institution’s credentials and so the recognition becomes an important element when one is looking at how to choose the right MBA. In addition to the state recognition element, good schools are typically accredited by one of organisations such as AACSB, AMBA or EQUIS. Schools typically work towards all three to obtain the so-called “triple crown” with AACSB being the most common measure of quality. The process isn’t simple and can take up to several years due to the measurements that take place. Schools who are in the process of AACSB accreditation can be recognised with an AACSB “Member” logo on display. Typically, they are towards the end of their accreditation process and on their way to earn the full AACSB “Accredited” status. In either case, choosing the right MBA programme should also include research into the accreditation efforts of a given provider and that they are the ones to earn the accreditation rather than using another institution’s accreditation credentials to boost up the profile of their degree.

Choosing an MBA programme – other ways to get an insight into the quality

Aside from looking into careers, rankings and accreditation of MBA programmes, there are other ways in which one can get a good insight into the world of MBA studies and choose the right MBA for their needs. It is extremely important with shortlisting programmes of interest and performing thorough research on those to understand what the programme entails, how much it costs and what you get for your money. Schools are very open about those and they are very often acting to the applicant’s benefit, if they show initiative and know the programme details. In an interview, such initiative makes a huge difference and increases chances for success in getting selected.

Understanding the programme is imperative to making the right choice and in today’s world, the benefit of conducting virtual meetings means you can learn more about different programs through info sessions, personal consultations or campus visits. Those can often be booked on the school’s website and you can be flexible with your booking to suit your needs. Typically, basic information can be obtained from the brochures and info sessions with more personal situation queries solved in individual consultations. Sometimes schools also offer trial lectures to give you a better idea of the curriculum and the level of studies you can expect, meeting your future lecturers, academic managers and students or alumni can also help. The main idea behind these trials is to assess the curriculum and how it aligns with your career objectives.

How to choose the right MBA? – The question of pricing­

Quality of the MBA programme is one factor but pricing is another important one to consider and probably the one prospective students most often offset against the quality. Is an MBA free? – this can be a valid question to ask considering education in German public universities is generally free. However, MBA studies are usually considered additional training and so fall outside of the typical funding provided by the government. In other words, an MBA is not a free programme. Pricing for the programmes typically stems from factors such as popularity of the programme (ranking placement or size of the school). Larger schools typically have higher entry requirements and higher fees on basis of which they filter applicants. Small schools or new market entrants without accreditation offer very cheap MBA programs, which don’t necessary give anything beyond acknowledgement of finishing of studies – without solid recognition on the market. Typically, also online degrees charge a little less in comparison to full-time degrees but this is not always the case – some online programs can cost more than stationary full-time ones.

When it comes to Applied Sciences institutions, these offer a good balance of both quality and price. With many other benefits described here, it may be a good alternative to programs offered by public institutions, providing individualised support and network of partners which is excellent for career prospects. To support its students, Applied Sciences institutions such as Munich Business Schools offer attractive early bird discounts and performance-based scholarships to exceptional applicants. In addition, interest-free payment plans can be provided to split the costs for the duration of studies. Furthermore, Munich Business School works with a network of partners such as:

They support students in many ways but may be only available to certain regions and nationals, so it’s worth checking all of them to see how they can help. In some cases, it is also a possibility that employers send their employees to study MBA programs and fund their studies. This is rather rare when it comes to full-time programs and one needs a longstanding relationship with their employer to secure such benefit. Such arrangement is not very common but nonetheless it is widely accepted if students secure such support from their employer. Last but not least, US citizens can benefit from the GI Bill formally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, which can fund studies for American military veterans or servicemen and servicewomen and reserves through the post-9/11 GI Bill.

How to choose the right MBA? – Summary

Choosing the right MBA program is a complex decision influenced by various factors such as study modes, pricing, specialization opportunities, ranking positions, and career prospects. It’s crucial to adopt a holistic approach, aligning personal and professional goals with the MBA’s offerings to ensure meaningful career advancement. While rankings and reputation provide useful data, they should not be the sole determining factors. Instead, applicants should consider the geographical location, ensuring it offers a thriving job market and additional career support services. Accreditation is another key aspect, with recognized bodies like AACSB, AMBA, or EQUIS indicating quality and credibility. Prospective students should thoroughly research program details, costs, and accreditation status to avoid unrecognized degrees.

Pricing is an essential factor, with costs varying based on program popularity and institution size. While public universities in Germany typically offer free education, MBAs usually fall outside this funding scope. Institutions like Munich Business School balance quality and cost, offering scholarships, payment plans, and financial support through partnerships. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the chosen MBA degree matches the applicant’s career aspirations. Adopting a holistic approach ensures that the chosen MBA program supports long-term career goals effectively and when this is done correctly, students are surely able to get the best education for their budget, without compromising on the very important quality aspect.

Would you like to learn more about the MBA offered by Munich Business School? Please do not hesitate to contact your Study Advisor and Program Manager Maciej Kapron by email to get more information.

Maciej Kapron
About Maciej Kapron 26 Articles
Maciej Kapron has been a Study Advisor as well as Program Manager for the MBA programs at Munich Business School since June 2023. Previously, he was also responsible for the DBA program. He holds a BA in Diplomacy with Law and an MSc in International Management from Loughborough University and completed part of his degree at Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon. During his MSc degree, he focused on marketing, specifically within the area of brand management and services marketing however, in his thesis he evaluated entry strategies to new markets of a global automotive manufacturer.