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The Warsaw Voice » Other » April 16, 2008
EDUCATION-Special Section
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MBA: The Facts
April 16, 2008   
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Mieczysław Błoński Ph.D., director of the Wisconsin-La Crosse University and the Łazarski School of Commerce and Law MBA Program:

The dark clouds looming over the global economy have not dampened interest in MBA programs from either students or professionals. On the contrary, MBA programs are more popular than ever.

We have been witnessing a curious phenomenon these last few years. The worse things look for the economy, the more MBA applications there are. I call this the reverse economic cycle. The reason for this lies in the fact that favorable economic conditions lead to higher salaries which people do not want to spend on education whose opportunity cost increases correspondingly. Conversely, people invest more in education when salaries are stagnant or on the decline.

Completing an MBA almost always brings an immediate increase in salary. MBA graduates in Britain earn almost three times more three years after completing the course. Most British MBA graduates are given an instant pay rise of around 40 percent and their average salary is 64,000 pounds a year. MBA graduates earn even more in the United States. Harvard Business School graduates earn $173,000 a year on average, Stanford University graduates $168,000, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) graduates $163,000, and University of Chicago graduates $158,000.

Other statistics reveal that three years after completing one of the world's top 100 MBA programs, graduates earn around $120,000 per year in North America, $125,000 in Europe and $130,000 in Asia. The average salaries of MBA graduates are steadily increasing. In fact they have risen by around 20 percent over the past four years. Upon completing their courses, 1 percent of graduates are immediately appointed chairman, managing director or CEO and 13 percent are made senior managers.

What about the Polish situation? The average monthly salary of an MBA graduate was zl.8,500 in 2006 according to an online survey conducted by Sedlak & Sedlak. This was three times the salary of a university graduate without an MBA. Given the considerable salary increases last year and so far this year, MBA graduates probably earn between zl.11,000 and zl.13,000.

The first MBA program was set up about 100 years ago at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Many other U.S. universities and colleges soon followed. MBA programs were launched in Europe and other parts of the world following World War II. The first Polish MBA program was set up in 1991. Thirty-one U.S. schools were included in the Financial Times MBA Rankings for 1999. Of the rest, 16 were from Europe and three from other parts of the world. This year's Financial Times MBA Rankings listed 57 schools from the United States, 28 from Europe and 15 from other parts of the world. Some of these, like Ceibs in Shanghai, which produces around 200 graduates a year, are ranked very highly although they are not elite in the U.S. or European sense. It is estimated that 47 percent of graduates from the best MBA schools come from the United States, 22 percent from Europe, 18 percent from Asia, 8 percent from South America, 2 percent from Africa and 1 percent from the Middle East.

There are now around 50 MBA programs offered in Poland. These can be rated as better or worse depending on the standard of universities providing them, the reputation of their foreign partner schools, the teaching skills of their lecturers, the content of their programs, the standard of their case studies and simulations, the language of instruction, the number of classes and the educational level of their participants. Much of this, in turn, depends on their entry requirements, systems of study and accreditations. Generally, programs run by reputable universities in conjunction with schools from English-speaking countries, where management training is well organized and has a long tradition, are better. Most new business management tools and techniques first emerge in English-speaking countries, especially the United States. Those programs that have good academic teachers with real-world business experience tend to be better, as do those covering a lot of subjects in all spheres. The better MBA programs also number those that require their students to acquaint themselves with the latest literature from leading publishing houses, those that use case studies and simulations from reputable companies, and those which let their participants spend as much time as practicable at their partner school.

Warsaw has more than half Poland's MBA courses. The overwhelming majority are general, non-specialized, programs. Eleven programs are conducted exclusively by Polish schools and 29 in conjunction with foreign schools, most of them American or British. English is the only language of instruction for almost a quarter of the programs while Polish is the only language of instruction for another quarter. The remaining programs are conducted in these two languages albeit in different proportions. Practically all Polish MBA programs are extramural with classes on weekends and sometimes on Fridays. It is rare to find a program conducted differently. Only one MBA program offers an extended study period abroad. Several schools accept candidates with bachelor's degrees and no prior work experience. The remainder require that candidates hold a master's degree and have from two to five years of work experience. All programs require that candidates be proficient in the language of instruction. The total cost of an MBA course in Poland varies between zl.4,000 and zl.95,000.

Compiled by K.J.

Did you know...
There are at least three types of MBA studies:
  • Executive MBA (EMBA)-a program that involves intensive, two-year extramural courses for higher-level managerial staff. EMBA courses require more professional experience than the typical MBA program. Abroad, the minimum requirement is usually six years, while in Poland it is a maximum of four years.
  • International MBA (IMBA)-These are usually one-year full-time courses that focus on multiculturalism and globalization (students come from different countries).
  • Specialty MBA courses-Increasingly popular, they are designed for medical personnel, engineers, human resources managers, financiers and IT managers, which means people who have no intention of changing the business sector they work in.

Did you know...
Before you choose the MBA studies that are the most appropriate for you, you absolutely have to check the reputation of the Polish college and its foreign partner and find out if the MBA course provider holds a prestigious accreditation, such as EQUIS (The European Quality Improvement System), AACSB (The International Association for Management Education) or AMBA (The Association of MBAs).
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