If you are a male Indian engineer contemplating business school, there are two things you must be thinking about. The first is: will I get in? And second: is it worth it?
Regarding the first question, the answer is: it is hard. With the acceptance rate of most top ten MBA programs hovering at 15 percent and below, the top business schools are a reach for anyone, let alone members of an over-represented group.
To address this challenge, you must submit a nearly perfect application that includes above average GMAT scores for YOUR cohort (for many of you this may be 760 plus), a near perfect undergraduate academic record, stellar recommendations, and, most importantly, great essays.
I say most importantly because when you “look” like everyone else, the best way to stand out is by telling a story that is authentic. You must distinguish yourself from all others who are ostensibly just like you. Without such a story, you are likely out of luck.
This brings us to the next question, if you get in, is it worth going? After all, business school is likely to be the biggest purchase of your life, with a two-year full-time program costing in the neighborhood of $200,000 – not to mention giving up an income during that time.
In this post, we broadly discussed how to think about ROI for attending business school. Here though, I want to provide some specific suggestions to the largest of all business school cohorts – the male, Indian engineer – for pushing up the ROI on a business school education.
1. One year may be all that you need.
In recent years, one-year MBA programs have started to sprout up all over the US. These include programs specifically focused on tech, like the Cornell Tech MBA, or the recently begun, NYU Tech MBA; and includes even other specialty programs like the NYU’s Fashion and Luxury MBA. At half the cost in half the time, it may just get you where you need to be.
2. … Especially, if you’re an engineer.
As the need for managers with a technical background has grown, so have programs that combine an MBA-style managerial education with additional technical studies.
The goal with these programs is to create great managers with the skills to lead the next generation technology companies. Broadly termed a Master of Engineering Management, this degree is offered by top schools including MIT, Cornell, Duke, Dartmouth and others. Depending on the school, these programs can last anywhere from 9 to 24 months.
3. Maybe you don’t need an MBA.
Instead of an MBA, how about a specialty master’s degree that likely takes less time (usually 12 – 18 months) and at a lower cost. These include Master’s programs in data analytics, finance, and now even product management. With a tight focus on a specific industry and function, the job hunt may even be easier than with an MBA. And, some of these programs qualify for the STEM extension making them extremely attractive to students looking to stay in the US after graduation.
4. Head to Europe.
Most European, and many international programs, require only a one-year time commitment to acquire your MBA from a top tier business school. While this is appealing, beware as some of the best European programs, LBS, Oxford, IE Business School can be just as competitive as a top American MBA.
5. Consider France.
Not only is it a beautiful country with great food but France is particularly generous for MBA students coming from India. There are a number of grant programs for Indian nationals who are attending a French business school, like INSEAD, HEC, or others. Of course, these programs are likely as competitive as the business school you are applying to.
6. Think Canada, Eh?
Like in the US, an MBA in Canada can take anywhere from one (Ivey) to two (Rotman) years but here’s the big difference. In Canada, after completing an MBA you may be eligible for a 3-year work permit without the need for company sponsorship. And, if you have a spouse who comes with you while you study, she will be eligible to work in Canada. After only one year of work, you can apply for permanent residency laying the groundwork for building not just a career but a life in Canada.
Take note: the rules are different depending on if you graduated from a one-year or two-year program.
While male, Indian engineers represent the largest cohort of applicants for business school that is not the case everywhere. Remember that MBAs aren’t limited to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT and Haas.
Before you start thinking about what the return on investment might be for a particular program, remember that there are many programs out there, some with even better ROIs than you thought.