MBA the ChemE Way

At the AIChE Spring Meeting in San Antonio, TX, the session "MBA the ChemE Way" gave a quick snapshot into planning and applying to business schools, a look into core classes every MBA takes, and some words from experienced MBAs. Brodie Reynolds, from the McCombs School of Business at University of Texas, Austin, was the first session speaker.

Why should I consider getting an MBA?

An MBA degree allows many to "take that next step in their career," said Reynolds. The training students gain throughout MBA programs prepares them for managerial positions by teaching them innovative leadership strategies and a variety of business approaches. Most programs help students build their professional network as well. Additionally, graduate education can help boost your salary or help you land a higher paying job.

Choosing an MBA program

First, consider the ranking and employment information for the schools for which you are planning to apply. Compare each program's features, such as the size of the student body, the class composition, diversity, curriculum, tuition, and campus community. Make a campus visit before committing to a school.

Full-time, part-time, or executive?

Choose a program that suits your lifestyle. Reynolds recommends the typical full-time, 2-year program because it is more immersive and allows you to focus electives based on your interests. Although part time programs are more rigid in their coursework structure, they allow you to maintain your lifestyle and pursue outside work. The executive program is geared toward those professionals with 8 to 18 years of work experience who are seeking progression to senior level management without career interruption.

Application process

MBA programs require candidates to take the GMAT or GRE test. Typically, applicants must submit transcripts, a resume, 2 letters of recommendation, and 3 required essays. Additionally, applicants must have at least 2 years of work experience at a minimum and a bachelor's degree. International students must often provide TOEFL scores as well.

Strong applications exhibit academic aptitude through transcripts, a high GPA, and high GRE and/or GMAT scores, as well as professional accomplishments and positive personal qualities. Highly qualified individuals are typically invited to interview before admittance is granted.

What can I do if I'm in school now?

If you are in college now and planning on attending business school, take the GMAT or GRE now. These scores are valid for five years, so even if you work for a few years after graduating, you can still use them if applying less than five years later. Do well in your classes, get involved in on-campus activities, and take a leadership role in your community on- and off-campus. To get a leg up on the MBA curriculum, you could also take classes such as microeconomics, calculus, accounting, and statistics.

How can I pay for this?

The best advice is to "save as much as possible," says Reynolds. Although business school can be expensive, there are many scholarship opportunities to those with exceptional credentials or financial need. Make sure you research and apply to all scholarships for which you qualify. Ensure that your credit score is high and that your debt is at a minimum to help obtain student loans.

Are you considering an MBA, and what advantages do you see?