MBA & Business Education Guide 2005: The right school

Finding it can be a confusing process, complicated by conflicting league tables, with suspect data that needs careful interpretation. Checking accreditations will help you draw up a shortlist.

Let's agree on one thing: everyone disagrees about the best business school to attend. Look at the Financial Times rankings, for example (opposite), and you'll see Harvard in pole position for its full-time MBA course. Consult The Economist and you'll spot Kellogg at the top. If you don't fancy studying in the States, Business Week rates Queen's in Canada, while Forbes will point you to INSEAD in France. Speak to faculty members or deans, and they'll probably rubbish the idea of a 'number one' business school altogether.

So, once you've decided to do an MBA, how on earth do you work out where to do it? There are currently about 1,500 business schools offering MBA courses across the globe, and they all vary wildly in cost, quality and entry requirements. Picking one that suits you can be a confusing, even mind-boggling process. The MBA is a huge investment in terms of time, cash and emotions, so if you want to get the most out of your course, you need to treat it like any other business project. Review it fully in advance and research the options carefully.

Where should you start? Given the controversy over the value of an MBA in today's business climate and the doubts hanging over the quality of some courses, it is important to pick a 'premier league' business school that will dazzle poten-tial employers.

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