MBA School Selection: Examining Teaching Styles

People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities. MBA programs can be compared based on attributes such as rankings, starting salaries, recruitment/ job placement opportunities, and net costs. While these attributes are valuable pieces of information, when narrowing down the school list, it is best not to focus on just the top few programs.  It is important to remain pragmatic and consider those schools that best meets your expectations and particular profile.

One attribute that is often overlooked in making school selection is teaching styles.  I would advise students to research the teaching styles of the different programs. There is the case study method, the experiential/action based learning method, and team-based focus of learning. Some schools will emphasize one method whereas many employ a combination of these methods.  It is important to find a program where the teaching method allows you to learn and thrive.

The case study method, often associated with Harvard, allows students to analyze and debate actual management challenges and make recommendations on actions that can be taken. This method relies on class discussions on a host of different views and tends to appeals to students who tend to be more outspoken and gregarious.

In recent years, schools have been added to experiential elements to the curriculum with increasing emphasis on hands-on activities such as industry-focused immersion experiences and conferences. Programs that favor this approach include Michigan Ross and Vanderbilt Olin. This approach may be favored by those who enjoy working in groups and want to see how businesses are managed in real-time.

Lastly, there is the traditional lecture method.  All MBA programs use this method but certain schools standout for their greater use. Lectures are often the most efficient method for teaching business concepts and theories with case-study and experiential learning both being more time consuming. Nevertheless, an academic environment where there is higher percentage of lectures may be more comfortable for some students.

MBA programs will incorporate all these methods when teaching the curriculum but there are significant variations between schools.  Consider your personal style and preferences as you begin the school selection process.

Posted by Jumet

Author: AGOS Consulting Team

@AgosJapan (formerly Princeton Review of Japan) – 25 years of experience. Best MBA, LL.M, and MPP admissions results in Japan.