Dear Mentor:

Which good MBA programs do not require work experience?

I am doing my IT in engineering from a college in India. I would like to do my post graduation [graduate studies] from a good university abroad, preferably in the States or UK or Australia. It has come to my knowledge that doing an MBA in the States from a good university requires work experience. Is that true? Are there any good universities that don't require work experience? Could you please tell me about my options for getting admission in good universities abroad, the necessary exams and the expenditure that I would have to incur? Could you guide me as to which universities I should be looking out for, since I've heard that some degrees offered by Australian universities are not recognised? Thank you.

Looking for Good MBA Schools, India

Dear Looking for Good MBA Schools:

First some lingo. Your lingo is consistent with the UK and British Commonwealth countries, but the lingo in the US and Canada is different. A Master's or Doctoral program is referred to as a graduate study program, and not a post graduate program. A college or university is often referred to as a school.

Your understanding of the MBA situation in the US is correct. Top-tier MBA schools in the US expect candidates to have 2 to 5 years of work experience, although they may not state so explicitly. The reason is simple. Their reputation and prestige depend on their output; that is, the quality and success of graduating students. A predictor of future success is a pattern of demonstrated success in progressively challenging situations in the past, of which the work is a critical part. Moreover, work experience allows the candidates to determine more accurately their desire and need for pursuing a career in management.

You can understand that a school that has less stringent entrance requirements - such as, no work experience - is likely to be less good. As an Indian saying goes: Tea is only as sweet as the amount of sugar you put in it. You surely can't expect an easy entry and prestigious education; they can not and do not go together. Prestige is associated with something that is uncommon and hard to attain or obtain. So, if you want the results, you got to do the time, so to speak.

Our geographic focus at iMahal is on the US, UK, India, and Canada. We do not feel that we can give an informed opinion on the education in Australia. We know Australia is an advanced country, and the people and weather are nice; but that is the extent of our personal knowledge of Australia.

We do know that a vast majority of top business schools in the world are in the US. A handful are in Europe, such as the London Business School in England. And the business school of the University of Western Ontario in Canada has a good reputation. You can find the Rankings of US Business Schools and the Rankings of the Canadian Business Schools in the iMahal Education Channel. You can buy or borrow a copy from the library of The Times Good University Guide: 2001. This book ranks colleges in general and not the business programs in particular. Unfortunately, the ranking of schools in the UK is seldom available on the Web. One place to try is: UK MBA rankings. Also, the Financial Times presents rankings of European business schools, including some in the UK.

The quality of MBA education at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) is outstanding, and recognized as such worldwide. The quality of education and subsequent earning power - thus, the purchasing power - is quite a different matter if you use the official currency exchange rate for different countries. On this measure, top MBAs in India earn much less than the MBAs in the US, UK, or Canada. In fact MBAs in the UK and Canada make much less than MBAs in the US. Also, MBAs from top-tier US schools can often make twice as much, or more, at the starting level as the MBAs from average US schools.

It would appear to us from a series of questions that you have asked that you wish to get not only a good education but also enhanced earning power. If good education and living in India is your goal, the IIMs are your best bet. Otherwise, you can make your decisions on where you want to study while tackling the challenge of what it is going to take - such as work experience - to do so. You can find the List of Business Schools in the US, the List of Business Schools in the UK and the List of Business schools in Canada in the iMahal Education Channel.

The cost of MBA education in the US is extremely high, ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 annually for the two-year program. The cost in the UK is comparable at comparable schools. The cost in Canada is significantly lower, ranging from Cdn$15,000 to Cdn $30,000 annually. Virtually no financial assistance is available to international students in all these countries for MBA studies.

The typical entrance exams requirement for good schools is the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), a standardized exam. You can take this test in India. Further information on Entrance Exams is available in the iMahal Education Channel.

You can use the iMahal College Finder to identify the schools that best match your performance and personal needs.

One comment on accredited universities. The notion of accredited schools is from the British heritage, where the government gets in the business of bestowing honors on "acceptable" schools. Such is not the case in the US. Accreditation is conducted by independent and private organizations. Accreditation is not a worthwhile exercise for highly reputed and prestigious schools, since it takes time and effort and all you get in return is a badge of approval from an entity that itself is not as prestigious as the school. While it is valuable for average or below-average schools to demonstrate that they have an acceptable level of education, many top-tier schools simply ignore the accreditation ritual. Employers in the US are not particularly interested in whether your school is accredited. They are interested in the quality of your school regardless of the accreditation status, and they are interested in your personal capabilities and skills. The further away you are on the time scale from your graduation, the less your degrees matter relative to your demonstrated record of success.

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