Illinois iMBA

John Pierpont's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,031

Primarily what I see on WSO is M7 or gtfo.

Does anyone have any thoughts or insight into Illinois' iMBA program? Here's a Poets & Quants article for some background.

My impression is that once you get out of the M7 range, ranking doesn't matter so much. This is to say that #37 isn't all that different from #53.

Why I'm thinking about it:

  • I don't have the means (read: funds) to attend a full time program. With this program, I can continue to work full time while earning an MBA and have my bank pay for part of it. The tuition package my bank offers requires a prorated payback if you leave the bank within 1 year of the tuition payment. I don't plan to leave but prorated payback isn't that big of a penalty regardless.
  • I don't want to change industries. I'm happy with my current role/path in banking but an MBA will not only cause a pay bump, but act as a differentiator down the line when competing for management positions.

Comments (8)

Feb 7, 2019

I think your assessment is right on and I would run to the iMBA program.

To have your employer actually kick in some $$$ is amazing and it will certainly do for you what you think it will, being a real differentiator and give you a pay bump. Of course, it is a lot of work but you knew that.

Another pro is that Illinois is a great school, and Gies has a really active alumni network. So by getting your iMBA you are really getting access to a huge group of people that can connect you and help you get to the places you want to go. (Not every alumni will be so helpful but more than enough will be.)

With regard the ranking, I find it terribly misleading because it doesn't reflect the fact that lower ranked schools are actually great regional schools that get people jobs where they are. If you are in Chicago, you are FAR better off getting an MBA from Illinois rather than from a Foster or Tepper or some other far away school that could be ranked significantly higher than it. Assuming you are going to stay in Illinois, or nearby, I think it is an easy decision to go get your iMBA.

Harold Simansky
Senior MBA Admissions Counselor
Stratus Admissions Counseling
[email protected]

If you wish to speak to me directly through a free consult click

    • 1
Feb 7, 2019

Thanks for the input. Sometimes it's nice to have the reassurance that you're thinking about things the right way. I'm on the east coast so the regional boost won't be in play here.

I'm shooting for Fall 2020 admission so I have a bit of time to go over all options. [email protected], UNC's online MBA is another option but the $120k price tag is a tough pill to swallow. Thanks again for your reply.

Most Helpful
Feb 11, 2019

I would caveat that you ensure you are comfortable with online learning. If you have the opportunity, register for a formal online class or extension class taught by some university or MOOC, and make sure you like the format and style. Some people really take to it and love the flexibility - being able to watch lectures when convenient, posting on message boards to discuss things with classmates, etc. - and some students become very unmotivated by the relative lack of face-to-face interaction. Both can be useful, but as the brofessor might say, Know Thyself.

There is also the option of part-time MBA programs, though those can be more costly, they provide a mix of online/offline components and often your classmates are all currently working. If I were in your shoes, I would apply to several different programs and carefully consider the difference among them. Try some reach schools and some safety schools.

Finally, although it is not required by the iMBA program you are looking at, I would recommend taking the GMAT and seeing where you shake out. The GMAT acts as an effective (but not perfect) filter for students that may not take their MBA program seriously. If you are able to get into a more rigorous program that requires the GMAT, you may find the incremental cost worth it. It also might earn you a scholarship at some schools which helps the ROI.

Hope that helps. I did a Full Time MBA at a top 15 program for reference.

    • 3
Feb 13, 2019

Excellent comment on the online learning style. I did a large portion of my undergrad through online classes, and it was... meh. I found that with material I enjoyed I would be much more willing to study on my own and self teach the curriculum. However, with classes that I wasn't interested in, my effort was the bare minimum at best. I would think that I am more likely to be interested in MBA courses than I was during undergrad gen ed classes, but it's still a factor to consider.

For the part-time programs, I have found a few that are interesting but fact of the matter is that I will likely be moving in 2020 and then again a few years after. The timelines would have to line up but there are a couple schools I'm considering.

I took the GMAT last year with a score of 690. I could probably study and boost it 20-30 points to get into a more serious scholarship range.

There are a lot of factors in deciding, as I'm sure all candidates have. Thanks for taking the time to reply

    • 2
Feb 11, 2019

It depends on where you're trying to go. If the end goal is ibanking or private equity, its truly M7 or nothing (as with everything, there are outliers, but they are just that-- outliers). Hedge funds don't give a shit, and even look down on MBAs in some cases. If you work in commercial banking for a regional lender, an MBA from anywhere will suffice. At that level's, its just a check-the-box formality.

A friend of mine works at a top PE firm in the Midwest, and he told me that someone with an MBA from Saint Louis University was trying to break into the industry. Unfortunately, it just made the guy look oblivious at best, naive at worst.

    • 1
Feb 11, 2019

Can you possibly checkout Indiana's MBA program? They have an online version as well, and the extra $$ you spend might be worth it given the program's reputation as a solid top 25- top 30 program

Feb 12, 2019

Chicago hosts two of the world's top 5 part time MBA programs. They'll serve you better, especially in Chicago, than Illinois. But if you're looking for an MBA to check the box to advance your current career Illinois would be a solid option outside of Booth/Kellogg.

Feb 19, 2019