The difference between University of Washington’s four MBA programs

uwblue One question I get asked a lot is, "Which of UW’s MBA programs is the best?"  UW has four different programs which have very different benefits and drawbacks.  When I was trying to decide which program to attend I put different options into Excel (including some Silicon Valley options), and weighted them fairly scientifically before deciding on UW’s TMMBA program.  After gathering all that information I can speak to the subject pretty well.

Quick overview:

Program

Duration

Average age

Total cost

Cost after MSFT reimbursement

Full time MBA

2 years

29

40k

n/a

Evening MBA

3 years

30

50k

20k

Tech Management MBA

18 months

36

58.8k

43.8k

Executive MBA

2 years

39

67k

52k

Full time MBA

This is the typical MBA program.  Many students are fresh out of undergrad, the classes are mostly daytime and you are discouraged from working, the program is 2 years long, and there’s a lot of partying – um, networking I hear ;).  I would not recommend this program to anyone over 30 or who isn’t already independently wealthy.  Unless your parents pay for it, your student loans are going to be large and the opportunity cost of not working just won’t make it worth the amount of debt.  Plus, you lose the opportunity to apply what you learn in your daily life at the office and the benefit of using your work colleagues and resources.

Evening MBA

This program is tempting if not simply due to the cost savings.  There’s a big difference between $20k out of pocket (Evening) and $44k out of pocket (TMMBA).  Both of those figures are for MSFT folks, post-reimbursement; MSFT reimburses $7500 per calendar year and the Evening program spans over 4 calendar years while the TMMBA program only spans 2 calendar years. That, along with the increased academic freedom compared to TMMBA’s lock step curriculum, made the Evening program appealing enough for me to go through the application process.

In the end, I decided the Evening MBA was not for me.  3 years is a long time to be juggling both full-time work and school, and classes are on the main campus in Seattle which would be a drag for an Eastsider. I also left the group interview day feeling that the student population was a little too young for me.  Or maybe I’m too old. 😉

Technology Management MBA

An MBA in 18 months.  How?  By drinking from a fire hose!  This is a full time program – 6 quarters with 3 classes apiece, one month off in the middle.  It’s intense, but in a good way.  You can do anything for 18 months – 3 years was unappetizing.  But the cost!  Well, to me it was worth it.  The student body is older and more experienced which turned out to be a huge deciding factor to me. The curriculum is more rigorous – we hit the ground running, move fast and don’t waste a lot of time on things we already know from our work experience.  The program has a technology focus which is beneficial because I work in tech, love tech, and love tech people.  The program is all-inclusive, including catered meals, textbooks, and an orientation at Semiahmoo Resort.  The Kirkland campus is very convenient (it’s by the Burgermaster near 520 at the Bellevue Way/Lake Washington Blvd exit) and aesthetically pleasing (dark wood, leather reading chairs, nice art).  It feels more like a professional seminar environment than a university.

The main question I had about this program was whether a technology-focused MBA would have less value than a general MBA if I moved into a non-technical field.  What if I bought a marina or a llama farm?  I was assured that the concepts taught are universal and that there is very little of the program that only applies to the tech industry.

Executive MBA

I didn’t consider this program because it’s geared towards executives and is ungodly expensive.  Definitely not targeted to me, but maybe someday I’ll fit their profile 🙂

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