Differences Between Reach, Target & Safety Schools

Laveta Brigham

Veritas Prep Best Fit Checklilst Finding the right MBA program is tough. Typically, the rule of thumb is to apply to roughly five to seven programs. Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed how applicants can think strategically about the MBA school selection process by organizing schools into three […]

Veritas Prep Best Fit Checklilst
Veritas Prep Best Fit Checklilst

Finding the right MBA program is tough.

Typically, the rule of thumb is to apply to roughly five to seven programs.

Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed how applicants can think strategically about the MBA school selection process by organizing schools into three categories: reach, target, and safety.


Prestigious schools such as Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School often make applicants’ list of “reach” schools.

These b-schools often boast single-digit acceptance rates making them notoriously competitive to gain an acceptance letter.

Blackman says it’s important for applicants to ask themselves why they want to pursue an MBA when selecting schools to apply.

“Is getting an MBA degree your top goal? Or, is getting an MBA from a specific school what really matters most?” Blackman writes. “If you’d truly feel at peace with never getting an MBA if you didn’t get into School X, then you can move forward by focusing all of your efforts solely on your dream school or schools.”


Schools that fall into the “target” category should be based on how closely your candidacy falls when compared to admitted students.

“As a general guideline, take a look at MBA programs you like where your profile falls within the top 10 percent of admitted students,” Blackman writes.

Take into consideration data such as undergraduate GPA, GMAT/GRE score, years of work experience, and industry when comparing to accepted applicants.


Safety schools, according to Blackman, don’t necessarily mean “bad or less desirable” schools.

Rather, when determining whether to apply to safety schools, Blackman suggests applicants to ask themselves how important it is for them to attend b-school next year.

“Maybe you have a compelling reason you need to exit your job and make a move to grad school ASAP,” Blackman writes. “If so, including safety schools among your targets is a smart strategy. If the need is immediate, then definitely include a range of schools of varying degrees of competitiveness.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

McGill MBA students

McGill University is launching a newly-redesigned MBA program focused on preparing students for the evolving business environment

The redesigned Desautels MBA program aims to give students a competitive edge with flexible and personalized specializations in emerging fields such as financial technology and data analytics, PR Newswire reports.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, what works today will not always work tomorrow,” Professor John-Paul Ferguson, Academic Director of the MBA program, tells PR Newswire. “At the Desautels Faculty of Management, we are in close communication with industry leaders who are searching for candidates to help them build more resilient, future-ready companies. Our newly-designed MBA program gives students the right blend of skills and experience to answer the call.”


An MBA can offer a pathway to something new.

And today, more so than ever, reasons for pursuing an MBA can vary – from making a career switch to capitalizing on business opportunities.

McGill’s redesigned MBA program aims to meet the evolving needs and demands of students.

“Our redesigned MBA responds to changing student needs as well as to market demand,” Ferguson tells PR Newswire. “The average MBA student has changed significantly in the past 15 to 20 years.”

For instance, the university offers both one- and two-year programs – giving students the option to decide which is more fitting for their career goals.


Social responsibility has taken grown increasingly popular at b-schools across the world.

“Our students aren’t just thinking about how to climb the corporate ladder,” Ferguson tells PR Newswire. “They want to leverage their skills to make a real change in their communities.”

The redesigned Desautels MBA program focuses on sustainability themes in its core class offerings. Each MBA student will be expected to learn themes such as environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

“To lead in this uncertain economic climate, our students need to be equipped to develop business practices that are viable and beneficial in the long term,” Ferguson tells PR Newswire.

Sources: PR Newswire, P&Q, P&Q

The online MBA is booming.

B-schools such as the University of Illinois Gies College of Business, the Jack Welch Management Institute, and Washington State University have all reported record growth in applications to their online MBA programs over the past few years.

But what exactly makes the online MBA so enticing?

Michael Oliva, a Guest Contributor at Big Easy, recently discussed a few of the top reasons behind pursuing an online MBA degree.


The biggest, and perhaps most obvious, benefit of the online MBA is the flexibility it offers when compared to the traditional MBA.

“With the option of online courses, your routine can be a little relaxed, which in turn can be beneficial for your mental health, professional, and personal life,” Oliva writes. “It’s a lot easier to maintain a study-work-life balance and multitask.”


One misconception behind the online MBA is that the instruction may be of lesser quality when compared to the traditional, in-person MBA.

However, as b-schools continue to double down on their online MBA offerings, many online MBA programs are actually taught by the same faculty as the traditional MBA programs.

Additionally, many online MBA programs offer a holistic approach to content.

At the USC Marshall Online MBA program, courses are taught by faculty teams giving students a multitude of perspectives on any given topic.

“Faculty members, each an expert in a different discipline, teach the course together, providing students with multiple perspectives that may include, for example, marketing, accounting, data analytics and communication. This holistic approach to learning mirrors 21st century global business practices,” Miriam Burgos, associate professor of clinical marketing and the academic director of the online MBA program, tells Stacy Blackman Consulting.

One of the biggest draws to an online MBA is the lower price tag.

However, cost can vary from program to program depending on which b-school you’re attending.

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell Manning College of Business offers a fully remote MBA program for just $19,650 – the only b-school among 35 in P&Q’s ranking to offer an online MBA below $20K.

At a prestigious b-school, like Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, the tuition price for the online MBA hits $137,200.

On average, according to Affordable Colleges Online, the tuition cost for an online MBA ranges from $35,489.27 for in-state students to $39,842.20 for out-of-state students.

Sources: Big Easy, Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q, Affordable Colleges Online



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