For many applicants, getting that prestigious name on their resume is one of the many reasons why they want an MBA from a top school.
But does the brand of your MBA really matter? Like many aspects of b-school, admissions, recruiting, etc. — it all depends.
In essence, the pedigree of your education matters more the less experienced (read: younger) you are. It matters if you’re looking to work in specific industries like management consulting and banking – where these firms do most of their recruiting at select schools.
If you’re in your early to mid-20s and you’re not particularly sure about what you want to do post-MBA, then going to the school with the best overall reputation is likely your best bet. But if you’re pretty sure about what you want to do and it doesn’t involve investment banking or management consulting, then you want to focus far more on the specific strengths or geographic location of the school.
Also, if you’re in your 30s and beyond, you already have an extensive body of work that employers will look at no matter how hard you try to run away from it. Of course, there’s a difference in opportunities between say an online degree and Darden, but there’s not really going to be a huge difference for you whether you got to Darden, Kellogg, or Stanford — because as a seasoned professional, you will be judged on your entire body of work. In fact, depending on your circumstance, it may not even matter whether you go to a top30 vs. a top16 school.
Pedigree matters for kids because they don’t have much else. Experience matters for adults – even if such prior experience is not related to your current career aspirations. And other than banking or consulting, just about every other industry values experience above all.