Part of the benefit of any academic program, and particularly an MBA is not in the program itself, but in the people that are in the program. University of Penn's Warton School of Business is largely held to be the best business school in the country, but you don't hear that everywhere. Instead, it's usually Harvard. Why? Because people who go to Harvard Business School use connections, mainly family, to get great jobs. They do something to earn those jobs afterwards of course, but they get them originally as much on who they are as what they might be able to accomplish. You can't say that all MBA programs are the same because you won't get this by attending an "unknown" school or an on-line program.
Not all schools have the same standards. The LA Clippers rarely win any NBA titles, why? Because they don't have as many allstar players as say the LA Lakers, or Chicago Bulls. Some schools just have better instructors, and the better the instructors are, the more they'll push you to learn.
The structure of the programs vary some too. Your program may require a thesis while others require more course credits. There is a research component to a thesis of course, but there more about proving what you already know than they are about learning new things, so judging your own need for knowledge will help you decide which type of program you should pursue.
I would suggest you spend alot of effort finding out how the school treats their students after the program. Some schools see you as nothing other than a paycheck. Once you paid your tuition, they do the bare minimum and then push you out the door. This is particularly true for alot of night programs that treat their night students like second (or fifth) class citizens. Don't just take the school's word for it though, find some people who graduate a year or two ago and see if the school provides and career assistance, or if they can ever ask any of their former professors questions. If not, go somewhere else.
In the end though, none of this will matter if you don't push yourself. I don't know about on-line programs, but I know that most in-class programs are highly competitive and you generally do have to earn your grade, in a way that no undergraduate program requires.
No, it doesn't matter. An MBA is an MBA. Every MBA program in America is held to the same standards.
I would say to go where it is going to make you happiest. You said that you don't see going to a top 25 school. Having an MBA from Yale or Harvard probably will put you over the competition, but are they worth the extra cost? The only thing I would say is to make sure it's an accredited school. I know when I was in Hawaii, I think it was HPU that was being investigated to lose their accreditation.
Anyone who tells you that one MBA is as good as another is an idiot who doesn't know what he is talking about. Just look at the placement statistics at ranked schools.
An MBA from a top 15 school will allow you to move into any field and get you a six figure salary.
An MBA from a school ranked 16-30 will be almost as good -- but it will be harder to get a job at an elite company (like Goldman Sachs). Still -- there will be a big increase in salary.
An MBA from a ranked school not in the top 30 will allow you to earn enough where the increase makes it worth getting an MBA.
An MBA from a school that is not ranked may help you get ahead in your current position. However, it won't really help much in getting a new job, and any extra income earned from the degree will not pay for the lost income of taking two years off.
My advice is to go to the best program you can get into -- and if you can't get into a good program, don't go full time.
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