M.B.A. Programs That Get You Where You Want to Go

tiWith some 13,000 graduate schools of business across the globe, the M.B.A. degree has clearly become a commodity.

Even among elite schools, courses and case studies are pretty much water from the same well (i.e., finance, operations, marketing, accounting). So how do you choose? By using the rankings? Which ones? The Economist’s? Businessweek’s? The Financial Times’s? And if you do, how do you tell the difference between a school ranked No. 6 and a school ranked No. 7?

Don’t ask us. Don’t ask the schools, either. Their slick brochures try to be everything to everybody, and in the process they obscure rather than illuminate.

Conventional wisdom will tell you that Harvard is for Fortune 500 jobs, Wharton for Wall Street, Kellogg for marketing and Insead for multinational entities. There’s truth to some of it, but times change, and so do employers’ recruiting preferences. The smartest move might be to choose your business school by focusing on a very specific outcome and, assuming a good fit personally, going to the one with an impressive record of helping students achieve the same. Period.