Talk to me of MBA programs

I’m strongly considering applying to my workplace’s MBA program - I work at a large urban research university in the southeast and one of the benefits of working for them is that there is a Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) that allows classes in many programs. My understanding is that the traditional MBA program is covered under this program. I will not be considering this if that is incorrect and I’d need to take on additional student loans, not at this point in my life.

My background: BA in history, MS in information science. Worked as an internal auditor, then became a librarian, with a subject focus on business. About 3 years ago I stepped into a manager role and I’m starting to think about where I want to end up. I don’t expect this to be my last workplace, and the next-level jobs for me typically strongly prefer another master’s degree for consideration. With my background, the MBA seems like it may be the best fit. The program at my workplace is no Wharton or Harvard, but it’s solid - the part time program I’d be applying to is ranked #9 among public universities, #17 nationwide (US News rankings).

This is all well and good, but tells me nothing about what programs are like, so:
[li]Do you have an MBA? [/li][li]What was your program like?[/li][li] Do you feel like it’s worth it? [/li][li]If you worked full time while going to school, how was that?[/li][li] Anything else that I should be considering as I think about this?[/li][/ul]

I have an MBA from a solid part-time program. Mostly I work in tech and consulting (Big-4 professional services firms, startups, boutique tech consulting firms).

Top 10 programs are generally preferred if you are looking to go into top-tier management consulting, investment banking or a Silicon Valley tech firm (i.e Mckinsey, Goldman Sachs, Google). But since that doesn’t appear to be your goal, a good accredited program with a good reputation should be sufficient.

I already had a pretty good grounding in tech (having been a developer / management consultant) prior to business school. So for me, taking courses in accounting, finance, management, business strategy, marketing, and so on helped provide a more rounded background.

Perhaps the greatest value of my MBA program IMHO was the sheer number of group projects / presentations we had to give. Most of my work consists of working with teams or clients and talking in front of people.

I just graduated with my MBA from a school which isn’t ranked as highly as your school. I did it as an evening student for the last two years. I was averaging 30 hr a week for school on top of work. My program also required evening students to accomplish something of strategic importance for their company, start a company or run a large event. I chose to start a distillery and I’m one of 4 companies that will come out of my class but it added another 20 hours to my week and I’ve had several 120 hour weeks in the last eight months.

My background is engineering and I didn’t have any exposure to business aside from econ and a little bit of investing prior to joining my program. Our program was mainly designed to teach business basics to people without undergrad exposure rather than going deep. The only class I struggled in was accounting where our teacher wanted us to show up to class having built a set of books so she could jump to teaching advanced accounting. She was teaching the differences in inventory methods while I was still trying to learn which side debits went on so my accounting base is still shaky. For the students who were business undergrads they got bored quickly since they’d seen 90% of it before.

I think getting my MBA was very worth it. I focused in decision modeling and entrepreneurship which I think allowed me to change how I think by adding structure and flexibility. Without this background I wouldn’t feel comfortable running my own company and spending as much time as I have been with venture capitalists. If nothing else I understand how business works and the words that are used to describe it so I can intelligently participate in conversations and ask questions when I’m talking to accountants and lawyers about how to set up my company. My day job is as an engineering consultant specializing in venture capital start-ups and it’s interesting how many CEO’s I work with who aren’t paying attention to how cash flows through their business.

As far as what to think about before starting a program I would look at what your goals are. If it is how to manage people or write a budget I don’t think an MBA is the right program but if you’re interested in how business works and why decisions are being made then it’s great. Most people in my program were looking to check a box to advance inside a major company or change careers but at the end of the program only about half accomplished this just due to the degree. The rest developed a fair bit of dislike of their current role due to perceived indifference to their achievements and are currently looking for something else.

This was a bit rambling but I can get more focused if you have any questions.

I have a MBA from UT-Dallas, which at the time, was a Top 50 program according to the US News & World Reports rankings.

Where it helped me is in making a sort of career shift. Prior to going back to graduate school, I was a programmer and very technical sort. After getting the MBA (and a follow-on MS in IT), I was able to shift into the BA/PM world without having to start at the very bottom- I actually got a fairly substantial jump in pay, and came in at the mid-level for a BA.

It also let me know that accounting and finance are absolutely NOT for me in any way shape or form, and that I really did enjoy corporate strategy and organizational behavior as well as IT.

Thanks, all. I’m not sure what my decision will be - and I admit that part of that is because the program that likely has tuition covered would tie me here for at least 3 more years. Even though I’m not looking to move right now, there’s a difference for me between “I’m not ready to move” and “I can’t move”.

msmith537, I can see where the levels of group work would be helpful with academia and all our committees. And while I do a good bit of speaking in front of groups already, I know that practice could make me a much better.

Oredigger77 the goals part is interesting. Yes, it’s one of those sort of required for the next step in my career, but the other side is that it opens me up to a whole different set of options should I decide that libraries aren’t were I want to be. I mean, I love being a librarian, I think they’re important, but I’m in higher education, and the nature of that is changing. I don’t think you’ll see universities dumping their libraries, but I really think we need people in them who can think and lead in different ways.

bump I’m already a bit of a strategy nerd. If there’s a strategic planning committee I’m the one who’s basically saying “please let me be on it!” while most others are ducking their heads trying to avoid being picked.

I’m at the point where I’m leaning toward likely applying - beyond the benefits to me in terms of career, because I’m faculty, I have to take on scholarship as part of maintaining faculty rank. Our guidelines in the library list coursework applicable to your job as one format of scholarship: yes, I publish, but I’d far rather put the lion’s share of my scholarship efforts into a degree that’s useful longer term than some of the things that are published by librarians who are faculty (there’s some good stuff published, yes. And there’s some absolute crap).

I’m signed up for an info session next week, and I’m doing GMAT prep - I bought a Kaplan book which has access to online practice tests. I’m running around a 600 on those, which is the average for the last incoming class in the program I’d be applying to, so I’m feeling ok there should I go forward with this.