MBA Options in Seattle

<p>I'm hoping someone can get me some feedback on my current situation. I'm looking to go for a part time MBA. I have an engineering job with a decent company who'll pay for nearly all of it but I have to stick with them for two years afterwards or else pay back most of the benefit. I get paid enough that the opportunity cost of a fulltime program is pretty high and the company won't pay for any executive MBAs. Thus, I'm pretty much limited to evening programs in Seattle or non-executive weekend programs. Or I could forgo the tuition benefits and pay for a weekend exec MBA myself if that makes sense to do so. </p>

<p>My stats: GMAT = 740, Ugrad GPA = 3.3, Major = Mechanical Engineering, School = Purdue, 9 years experience in non-management work. I took the GMAT once after minimal review and could maybe improve the score somewhat if I wanted to study for a month or something but I did 740/760 on the practice exams and figured that was good enough to get into UW so I just took it and got it over with. </p>

<p>So basically up here in Seattle our best school is UW and they're a good school and probably more than fine for getting management jobs in my current company. My original intention was to go there. Lets assume I can get into their evening program. GMATwise I'd be one of the top people there. Do I have any better options though? No disrespect to UW - I think I'd enjoy their program a lot and get a lot out of it but you only go to business school once and I just want to do the best I can. I know Chicago and Northwestern and Berkeley all offer weekend programs but when you add up the cost of flying there every weekend it gets to be pretty substantial. Plus taking the redeye into Ohare every friday night is going to leave me pretty tired during those Saturday classes. Obviously for Haas the flight is shorter and there's no timezone issues. Also UT has a program every other weekend in Dallas and that would require half as much flying so I guess that's an option too. Is there any top program that offers a non-executive weekend MBA where its pretty much one weekend a month? Also, are any of these weekend programs that much better than UW's evening program that its worth doing all this flying/hotel stays? I live like an hour from the airport and Seattle traffic sucks. So basically I'd be subjecting myself to a serious hassle every week but if it gets me into a significantly better program then it may be worth it. Also another somewhat local option: UBC offers a one weekend a month program but as a school I think they're just about on par with UW. That would be a two hour drive and two night hotel stay (plus maybe require a student visa). </p>

<p>As far as career plans, I'd like to get into line management or program management and eventually be in an executive or overall plant management role. I think consulting would be interesting and beneficial to do for a couple years too if that option was available. Ideally I'd do two years with my current company to fullfill my obligation and then do that for a few years. So I don't want to go to a school that consulting firms don't respect. Ultimately like everyone else in the world I want to get paid as much as I can for the time I spend at work so if some lucrative IB job fell in my lap I'd probably take it but I'm not really looking to go into that. Locationwise I lived out east for a number of years before coming to Seattle and would have to be paid very well to consider moving back. Ideally I'd like to end up in the south somewhere. Maybe after an overseas detail or two.</p>

<p>So, what are y'all's thoughts? The way I see it is that if I forgo the benefits and do the exec mba somewhere on my own dime then I pretty much have to get at least a $130-140K/yr job for it to pay off. That's certainly doable but its above average for even the best programs. Plus, exec mbas don't always offer much in the way of career offices. Thus, it looks like I should be looking to spend my tuition assistance at the best place I can find. So is there anywhere actually worth flying to or is UW my best option? </p>

<p>Thanks for your assistance.</p>

<p>Short answer - if it was my decision, I'd go with the UW program. Essentially, it's the difference between an experienced engineer who also has the skill set expected with an MBA, vs. an MBA who happens to have a background in engineering. </p>

<p>This is similar to what I did. Coincidently, I also started in Seattle (not UW) before moving east (rain didn't bother me, I never got used to having the ocean on the left instead of the right) to graduate from a different school & new employer. My observation may be dated, but at the time, the collective impression of most of my classmates was the part-time MBA program added a credential needed to advance their career with their current employer or while staying in the same general field/industry. An extreme example was the director of the large local high tech firm's research lab - an accomplished engineer, his management told him he needed an MBA to continue to move up within the corporation. I worked for a different division of the same company in a group where everyone was an engineer with or working on an MBA. We had several insurance industry folks who needed MBAs to move up in their companies. The local evening programs (I think there were 3 at the time) all marketed to this student population. To make a major career change, such as moving into IB/Wall St Finance/top-level consulting, you needed to go to a name-brand full-time program where your target industry recruited and hoped they were hiring in 2 years. I don't reall executive MBAs being an option then; the one person I know who has compelted one recently was using it to build her career (government management) and was considered to be on a fast track when they approved it. </p>

<p>The equivalent of the UW program worked out very well for me; no regrets here. Except for a stint with a company that played in the consulting arena, I had no great desire to be an IB or work for McKinsey. I wanted to stay in engineering/high tech, and my path required an MBA (later an MS Eng, also earned at night). Does your current employer (more broadly, your industry) have a career path for you leading into line or project/program management, later exec or plant management? If so (it sounds that way), go to UW and see what you can work out with the current employer while you're fullfilling the 2 year commitment.</p>

<p>If you are seriously considering a major career change, the exec MBA from the absolute best school you can get into (and I think you have the numbers and work experience to do pretty well!) may be better - IF (BIG IF here!), your target industry recruits from the exec/part time program. If not (the exec program is intended for people adding the MBA credential to move up in their current career path), you may need to go full time to execute the career change. THAT would be a huge financial hit, as you've already figured out.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Where do you live? Your best two options are as follows:</p>

<p>UW Technology MBA in Kirkland</p>

<p>UW Evening MBA at Foster.</p>

<p>University</a> of Washington Foster School of Business</p>

<p>Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I'm definitely kind of leaning toward doing the UW evening program (if I get in of course). I live only 15 miles or so from campus so getting there is infinitely easier than flying somewhere for a weekend program. And it is the best program in the region so nobody can really hold it against you too much for not going to some elite school when there wasn't one available. </p>

<p>The company I work for is big with a huge management structure so there are definitely options for me here in all the areas I've outlined and the MBA would be very helpful in getting opportunities along that track. And my original intention was pretty much to get on that track. I guess my main concern was that I evaluate all my options. If I've got to do a fulltime program to even have a chance at transitioning to IB or consulting then that's just something I wouldn't be interested in. I'd rather take the safe route and get my nearly free MBA from my current employer and see where that gets me. But if some elite program did offer a weekend program that was recruited by the Goldman's and McKinsey's of the world and it was only one weekend a month or something then I'd at least want to consider it. I mean even if I had to cut my employer a huge check upon quitting a McKinsey offer would more than make it worth my while. But those offers are by no means assured even if you do get into an elite program and that's why forgoing the tuition assistance to do an exec MBA seems risky (and forgoing the tuition assistance plus two years of salary seems crazy). The Texas weekend MBA program at two weekends a month is the only thing I've seen so far that would fit that criteria of a higher than UW ranked program that doesn't require me to fly there 100 times but there I'm not sure its really that much better than UW that its worth the effort (and somewhat higher tuition). </p>

<p>As far as a major career change, the only thing that really appeals to me about IB is the money but I do think I'd enjoy consulting. I like working lots of very different problems and working with several different clients on their unique situations seems like its something I'd enjoy. Thus, I kind of want to have that as an option even if I never actually take it. And there's obviously all kinds of consultants so I guess its really about the elite firms. But working for those elite firms does give you a leg up on executive positions so that's not a door I'd like to close if I don't have to.</p>

<p>Most of the value of an MBA, especially those from non-elite programs, comes from the initial post-graduation job market. Given your work and repayment status, you are likely to forgo the public market and hopefully upgrade within your current firm. After two more years in your current firm, the difference in value of any MBA credential will be small compared to the impact of your post-MBA work experience. So, unless you're rather sure that you're going to quit your firm for some outside offer and repay the MBA costs, you're probably over thinking this.</p>

<p>Most non-traditional MBA programs, such as the evening and weekend programs that you mention, share almost nothing with their more prestigious traditional partner programs. You may get the same diploma, but recruiters and future business contacts will know the difference and will be able to discover which program you took. If I were you, I wouldn't spend the money and effort to fly all over the place for a relatively minor upgrade in degree prestige.</p>

<p>To me, it seems that the most relevant questions are what career upgrade paths are open to you in your current firm and what program of study will improve your odds of making the move that you think will help you the most.</p>