Choosing an MBA in Prague

Several Prague universities offer English-language Master of Business Administration degree courses, but which one is right for you?

This article provided by University of Northern Virginia - Prague.

Thinking about getting an MBA?

Let's not fool ourselves -- probably first and foremost on your list of reasons is to improve your work prospects.

There are lots of ways you might do this: promotion in your current firm, a higher position at a different company, higher salary, or more responsibility and decision-making power. The right MBA can deliver these desired results.

But what else do you want?

An MBA involves a significant time commitment and probably you want a return on that too. So how can you go about choosing which MBA is right for you?

There are many factors, and big differences between the programs offered in Prague. Here are some key questions which you'll want to research:

How many people will be in your class or cohort?
This will make a huge difference in the experience you have. Will there be large classes of 50 or more, or will you have small classes of around 20?

The MBA is a practical, applied degree, and in order to give you the sort of personal attention, interactive discussion, and problem-solving experience that is supposed to come with this degree, you need small classes.

Any class of over 30 is likely to become a regular lecture rather than a dynamic learning environment.

What is the teaching style?
Business programs have pioneered the case-study approach.

Cases are an important part of learning how to apply knowledge. MBA programs should all have a significant bias in favor of practical application rather than theory.

Be sure you ask about the use of cases, discussion, problem-solving, and simulations in the classroom.

What is the content of the program?
Most MBA programs in Prague are focused on general management.

For graduates of a Bachelor of Business Administration program, this can be quite repetitive.

Some schools do offer specialized MBA programs. For example, University of Northern Virginia – Prague, in addition to management, offers specializations in Finance, Project Management, and Marketing.

Even more specialized is the partnership by which the Czech University of Life Sciences (Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze) offers an MBA in agribusiness.

Schools should also be able to tell you exactly what you can expect to learn from the program. In academic jargon, these are called learning outcomes. Ask about them.

Who are the lecturers?
Who will be doing the teaching?

There are a number of important aspects here.

First, practical experience: what kind of real world management experience do the lecturers have?

Having some academics teach in the program can be good. After all, you do need exposure to business theory.

But you want to be sure that the majority of your courses are taught by people who have significant experience applying their knowledge.

Second, language: what are the nationalities of the lecturers?

Given that you are reading this in English, you are probably selecting from among the programs which are taught in English. Doing your MBA in English will definitely improve your global employability, so it's a smart move.

Make sure that the school you choose carefully screens lecturers according to their English-language presentation skills, in addition to their knowledge of the subject.

Having a mix of nationalities is definitely good, but the quality of instruction should not be compromised.

What is the schedule and how long will it take?
You can find weekend, weekday, full-time, and part-time programs in Prague.

Many MBA programs in Prague are taught on the weekend but watch out for the actual allocation of days.

Quite a few of the so-called weekend programs include Friday as part of the weekend, which can mean having to use holiday days to cover the extra time off.

You also want to think about whether the schedule of classes will allow you to comfortably balance your working, study and private life. How quickly you go through the MBA will affect the intensity of your schedule.

Consider carefully all your work and family obligations and make sure the MBA program you choose will be manageable and won't overtax you or cause burnout.

An MBA can take anywhere from one to three years as a full-time or part-time program. Most of the programs in Prague are of the two-year, part-time variety.

Schools also vary in their intake dates. Some MBA programs have multiple starting dates during the year; others will only take new students in the fall.

How much will it cost?
The MBA is a big investment, with many programs falling into the 250,000-to-300,000-CZK price range.

Lower-priced programs raise questions about the number of students in classes and their overall ability to deliver a quality program.

Programs priced higher raise questions about whether the added investment brings a proportional return.

Of course, if your company is paying, there may be no cost factors in your decision, but that is becoming increasingly rare.

Even big-name companies are beginning to recognize the best value isn't necessarily the most expensive option. Look for programs that offer an ideal combination of price and quality.

Who issues the degree?
This might seem like a obvious question, but it is not.

Very few of the programs in Prague actually issue a degree in their own name.

That is because there are only a couple of schools which are actually run as branch campuses.

Of the mid-range-priced schools, University of Northern Virginia - Prague offers the University of Northern Virginia diploma. On the higher-price end, so does University of Pittsburgh.

Other schools have partnership agreements and offer degrees from French, British and Spanish schools, just to name a few.

Who accredits the degree?
The Czech Ministry of Education does not accredit MBA degrees. Therefore all MBA degrees must be foreign accredited or offered in partnership with a foreign university.

All of the programs which I am aware of in the Czech Republic are accredited, so this is not a defining criterion.

While there are differences in accrediting agencies, this is rarely something which employers will consider. Some schools do also have specialized business memberships and accreditation from organizations such as the ECBE (European Council for Business Education).

Who are the other students?
Your fellow MBA students will become an important part of your business network.

These are the people with whom you'll be learning with and from -- people who you'll want to share work experiences and ideas with. Be sure to choose a program in which you will feel comfortable with the other students.

Earning an MBA is the recognition that you have achieved the rank of an internationally qualified manager. It will open doors to careers both inside and outside of the Czech Republic.

If you do have aims of working outside of the Czech Republic, or even if you plan to stay in the country and work for an international company, you will definitely be engaged in business relationships with people from different cultures. You can use your MBA to get a head start on developing those skills.

Some of the MBA programs in Prague have an international student body which will allow you to experience a range of cultural working practices.

I am sure you still have other questions, but hopefully this gives you a head start on how to differentiate the programs in Prague and to choose the one that is right for you. Good luck in your search and final decision. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any further questions.

Mitchell Young
myoung.admin@unva.edu

This article provided by University of Northern Virginia - Prague.

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