Making the decision to study for a master’s qualification – an MBA, MSc or MA – can be a challenging task. Questions that you often go through include:

  • Which school or university is the best?
  • Which specialization suits my needs?
  • What is the duration of the program?
  • How will the master's qualification improve my career?

If you’re starting out on the journey towards finding the right master’s program, here are some stages to follow:

Choose a university

Choosing the right school or university for the study is absolutely crucial. The reputation of the establishment, its links to the industry, its ranking and its overall standing, are some of the factors that you will need to consider. Every school will offer the best they have to attract and enrol students. What is crucial from a student perspective is to see the reputation of such establishments both in terms of the academic sector, and the industry you want to work in. Try to find a school that the industry recognises as a place that maintains both quality and consistency of academic provision.


Decide on a specialization

As well as considering the school as a whole, you also need to choose a specialization for your master's program. If you want to study a master's in management, for example, which part of management are you really interested in? Is it finance? Marketing? Leadership? Entrepreneurship? Your choice of specialization should be based on the interest you have in a field of study. Having a passion for a subject will help you study it better, manage time pressures during the period of the course, and help you succeed in that area.

Another element to consider is whether the curriculum has an international or global edge. For example, in the Les Roches MBA program, we have introduced a two-week study trip to Chicago as a way to enhance the international skills of our students. During the trip students will visit different organizations, spending time with their management team, and then return to the classroom to reflect on how practice fits theory and vice versa. In the last trip in July 2015, we visited 14 different organizations and discussed strategies with their executive teams.

Consider the length of the program

Another important factor is the duration of the master’s program. There are programs that can run for six months or a year, 15 months or even a two-year period. The duration very much depends on the school’s accreditation. On average, for different master’s programs the minimum time is around a year or 14 months if they have a dissertation component. Choosing a master’s program under a year in length runs the risk that it will not be recognized or respected.


Investigate the curriculum

Once you have made a decision about the program you want to study, get in touch with the school and speak to the course manager of the program. Take the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the subjects covered, assessment strategies, and the logic behind the curriculum offered. This will give you the information you need to confidently make your choice.

Think about your career prospects

Having a master’s qualification will help you enter the employment market on a different footing. In these days there is increased graduate competition, and you need to be persistent, choose the right company and prepare to be humble at the start of your career. A lot of students want to immediately enter their dream job. That can, of course, happen to depend very much on the skillset you have, the leadership style that you implement and the knowledge you have gained. However, getting your dream job also depends on your ability to communicate, as well as the reputation of the school or program you have studied.

In sum, choosing a master’s program is one of the most crucial choices that you have to make. When making your decision, try to choose a school which is global, has a sound reputation in your industry, offers a wide range of subjects within its curriculum, and also shows a student-friendly leadership style.

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