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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 4, 2010
Special section - Education
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Schooling for Managers
February 4, 2010 By Michal Jeziorski   
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The first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program in Poland was launched in 1991. Today, depending on what criteria you apply, you can find as many as 60 programs offering various forms of MBA courses. The return on this investment in education is very quick.

An MBA degree coupled with professional experience is a powerful item on any CV. For most managers, it is a springboard to success. An MBA course places a great emphasis on case studies, teamwork and presentations. Another regular element is an aspect of healthy competition among groups-students are split into several-person groups working together on assignments. The opportunity to establish exciting contacts and exchange experiences is an added value. Friendly relations with other graduates are useful in pursuing any business career.

Anyone interested in an MBA course in Poland can choose from around 60, most of them taught in two languages-Polish and English. A course lasts 18 or 24 months. Classes are provided mainly as programs for working professionals, in groups of under 20 students. The courses look much the same at first glance, but differ in what specializations are offered. Apart from the standard MBA program, specialist courses teach extra subjects covering a specific sector of the economy.

At leading schools, the teachers are not just university academics but also professionals with practical experience, such as management board members from large corporations. This type of class enables students to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge as well as-perhaps most importantly-specific skills. They learn "hard" skills from the fields of marketing, finance, accounting, law as well as "soft" skills-in conducting negotiations, human resources management and psychology, for example.

Diverse range
The range of MBA programs on the Polish market is extremely diverse in terms of price, location and curriculum. The largest number of MBA programs is offered by schools in Mazovia province, where candidates can choose from 12 courses. Wielkopolska province comes in second with five MBA programs, and Ma³opolska, £ód¼ and Lower Silesia provinces tie for third place with four programs each to choose from.

Courses are not the same everywhere. The best MBA programs are those that have accreditation from the FORUM Association of Management Education, offer students a degree from both a Polish and a foreign school and guarantee the participation of foreign faculty. There are schools, however, where a course takes just one year, there is no cooperation with a foreign partner and classes are taught by the same teachers who teach bachelor's courses. For some MBA courses, the link between the Polish and foreign school is reduced to copying the latter's curriculum. Sometimes the foreign school is only used to raise the Polish school's profile instead of being a genuine partner involved in the teaching process.

The standard of an MBA course will certainly be reflected in its price. In any case, this is still a pricey investment. The average fee for an MBA program in Poland is almost zl.40,000. The three most expensive MBA programs are offered in Warsaw, with prices reaching zl.112,000. The three cheapest courses range between zl.7,500 and zl.12,500 and are available in £ód¼, Poznañ and Warsaw. The price reflects not only the school's overall prestige but also the curriculum, the number of class hours, availability of foreign lecturers, accreditation, and the opportunity to take part in regular classes at the foreign partner school.

Selection of candidates
Most schools, but especially those offering the more highly regarded MBA programs, target their courses at people holding master's degrees, and often require a degree in a field linked to business and economics. A minimum one year's professional experience is likely to be required as well. Some schools, on the other hand, accept a freshly obtained bachelor's degree in any field and do not even bother to ask about the student's experience. In such cases, though, the main goal is to make money and not provide specialist knowledge. This is why MBA courses are no longer a 100-percent guarantee of a good job. You should not graduate from just any MBA course. You need a good MBA course.

In the latter case, recruitment is much more than a formality. To protect their good reputation and high standards, schools put candidates through a rigorous exam procedure. Tests can include math problems and tasks checking analytical thinking skills. There are also language tests, interviews, tests checking personal predispositions for a managerial position, and even requests for references from the candidate's workplace. This student selection process is a guarantee of high quality
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