USC vs. UCLA MBA





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Discus: College Search and Selection: March 2004 Archive: USC vs. UCLA MBA
By Socalguy (Socalguy) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit

I'm plan to enter a part-time MBA program at either USC or UCLA. I've already been accepted to USC, but I haven't been notified by UCLA yet. Is there anyone out there who has any good advice on the graduate business programs at the two schools? USC seems to have a really solid program, but is lower in rankings than UCLA. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...

By Massdad (Massdad) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 12:37 pm: Edit

Both are solid locally recognized programs. I think you are splitting hairs to be concerned about reputation, as it won't really make any difference for you - what matters is YOUR background and ability.

Unlike highly competitive nationally ranked and recognized day MBA programs, where there's a lot of credentialling in the admissions process, most part time programs give you a knowledge set and a ticket punch, but no more. In other words, if you don't have a "name" MBA, it does not make a great deal of difference. So go with the one that has the program most attractive to you.

By Socalguy (Socalguy) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 01:06 pm: Edit

"part time programs give you a knowledge set and a ticket punch"

Could you please explain? I'm not sure what you mean. What does the day program provide that the part-time program does not? If it's all the same degree and networking opportunity in the end, what's the difference? Also, am I correct in assuming that the two schools aren't really that prestigious?

Thanks..

By Massdad (Massdad) on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 10:04 pm: Edit

Here's the scoop on MBA programs. And just so you know, I went to U. Chicago, a few years (decades?) back. We had a lengthly discussion in one class about why graduates from some programs (like Chicago or Harvard) get recruited heavily at good salaries while grads of some programs (UCLA?) don't do nearly as well. Academics have concluded that to some degree, businesses rely on the screening that goes on for admissions to the programs, as much as the course content and learning that occurrred.

What this means is that grads of relatively nonselective programs, and most part time programs are nonselective, lose a big part of the advantage. The knowledge gained in an MBA program may well be useful (as it still is for me) but the degree itself does not signal as much - it does not signal that you made it through a highly competitive admissions process.

So to gain the most value from a part time degree, you must show an employer that the knowledge gained increases your performance and value to the employer. A Stanford grad does not need to prove this. It is assumed.

By Socalguy (Socalguy) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 09:49 am: Edit

That makes sense. I appreciate your thoughtful posts. Thank you.

I've been thinking about a MBA as a means to switch careers. I was a liberal arts major in college, and I feel I have missed out on some important skill sets in my undergraduate studies. While I've been successful as a post graduate (in a creative field), I feel that a good grounding in a field like, say, finance might be beneficial. Plus, going to school part time will allow me to eliminate some of the debt that goes along with business school and leverage the contacts I make in my current job for use later.

Just thinking out loud..

By Massdad (Massdad) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 05:57 pm: Edit

An MBA coupled with something like an art/performance background can be interesting if you want to move into the business side of the creative industry. For instance, orchestra managers are often musicians who went on to get an MBA and focus on the business side.

So, I think your direction makes a lot of sense. Few creative types seem to move in the business direction, so I think you'll find competition a bit less.

By Chitownsfnst3 (Chitownsfnst3) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 06:56 pm: Edit

i don't know if this helps at all, but ucla mba grads are more likley to work outside of CA than usc grads, if they want. on the flip side, however, i've heard that usc networking, with getting jobs, is extremely helpful, especially if you want to stay in the area. again, on the other hand, ucla mba grads earn about 15 grand more after their first year of working, but more usc grads find jobs after the first three months of graduation (the strong networking probably has something to do with that).

anyhow, if i were in your shoes, i'd choose ucla.

By Shitakirimusume (Shitakirimusume) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 06:45 pm: Edit

>Here's the scoop on MBA programs. And just so you know, I went to U. Chicago, a few years (decades?) back. We had a lengthly discussion in one class about why graduates from some programs (like Chicago or Harvard) get recruited heavily at good salaries while grads of some programs (UCLA?) don't do nearly as well.

This is not true.

By Shitakirimusume (Shitakirimusume) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 07:03 pm: Edit

http://rankings.ft.com/rankings/mba/rankings.html

Considering the price index, West coast living
is cheaper than East Coast living.

W Salary

Harvard 163834

Chicago 140310

Stanford 150191 (SF's price index is high)

Duke 122244


UCLA 126388
Berkley 120379
USC 107117

By Massdad (Massdad) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 07:44 pm: Edit

Shitaki,

Do you REALLY mean to say that living in San Francisco or LA is cheaper than, say Boston? Or Chicago for that matter?

You also miss the KEY point: Graduates of the top programs are recruited nationally, so regional cost of living differences have NOTHING to do with starting salaries offered.

Nice try, though.

By Shitakirimusume (Shitakirimusume) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 08:03 pm: Edit

Since I have lived in NY, Boston, SF and LA, I know the difference.
(as I mentioned above SF is very expensive.)
Anyway I used the following Webpage to calculate the
difference.


http://www.bestplaces.net/html/cost_of_living.html

National Ave 100

NYC 234.6

SF 187.1

Boston 143

LA 130.1

Chicago 111.1
(But most of U of Chicago B-school Grads like you
live in East Coast.)

By Shitakirimusume (Shitakirimusume) on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 09:23 pm: Edit

>You also miss the KEY point: Graduates of the top programs are recruited nationally, so regional cost of living differences have NOTHING to do with starting salaries offered.

It's safe to say that majority of Fortune 500
corporate headquarters locate in East Coast.


(Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley cover west coast Corporations.)

By Socalguy (Socalguy) on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit

Can I ask for a little more advice....?

What is a good concentration to focus on? Now that I've been out of my undergraduate school for about six years, I'm starting to think education should focus more on good hard skills as opposed to soft skills. For business school, I'm thinking a focus the develops "hard skills", susch as finance, is better than one that develops "soft skills", such as marketing. What do you think.

Thanks again everyone for your advice...

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit

Here's my experience: after 20 years in business, I returned to school and received my MBA from
San Diego State.

Yes, a "no-name" school nationally but the skills and contacts I made locally during the program allowed me to start my own business and switch fields somewhat. Was it worth it? Yes, absolutely.
I didn't get my MBA to be recruited. I got it because I wanted to fill in the gaps in my business knowledge and strengthen the knowledge I already had.

In my case, the gaps in my knowledge were in the hard side of business so I loaded up on finance, accounting, and IT courses. But I also found that it was very valuable to take "soft side" classes in marketing and management. In some cases, these classes confirmed what I already knew; in other cases they gave me a new perspective and new tools to use.

Nearly all MBA programs will give you a mix of hard and soft skills - that is, after all, the purpose of an MBA: to give you an understanding of the big picture of business. In most programs, you'll only take 3-4 classes in your concentration so it doesn't necessarily give you the same depth as someone who majored in that area as an undergrad.
Still, choose your concentration according to the direction you'd like to move in your career.

I've never had any of my clients ask me where my MBA was from or what my concentration was so if you're returning to school, I'm not sure it really matters where you go AS LONG AS you go to a program that provides solid coursework and has a strong academic focus. Both USC and UCLA will give you that. Now, if you were looking at getting your MBA from U of Phoenix or Chapman, etc. that would be a different story.

One other thought: if you have a choice between doing a thesis and just taking a final comprehensive exam in your MBA program, think very seriously about doing the thesis.
While doing a thesis was much more time-consuming, I found it was the most valuable part of my MBA program. It allowed me to tie what I'd learned together, gave me valuable research skills, helped me make some strong connections with professors who became mentors and referred me to their clients after graduation. My thesis has also attracted attention from prospective employers (I describe the topic and research on my resume) and was a valuable stepping stone when I switched careers.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 03:07 pm: Edit

Carolyn gives excellent advice, and a much better summary of the value of a good MBA education than I did in my feeble attempt above.

Interestingly, in my career, I've found the finance/accounting background no more or less useful than the marketing courses I took. Both have been extremely useful, even now, 20 years later.

In my case, I think the key was that I took enough courses in both these areas to get beyond the intro into classes of greater substance.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

An MBA program should be viewed much like a liberal arts undergraduate program. Set a broad base with introductory/general courses and then in this case, I'd specialize based on the projected job market, your interests and your talent (as others see it), in that order.


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