Student Profile: Business School for Career Advancement

Courtney Heath: "I'm going to do it 110 percent."

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Six years after finishing her undergrad degree, Heath had met most of her initial career goals. She was a regional sales manager for Z Corp., peddling 3-D printing equipment. At 28, she was essentially her own boss, set her own schedule, and managed a staff of three. "If you looked at what I wanted out of undergrad," she said, "that was about it." So in 2006, she began applying to full-time M.B.A. programs. "It was the right time, right place for me to go to business school."

Now finishing her final year at Northeastern University's College of Business Administration in Boston, Heath already has a job lined up in supply chain management with Raytheon.

Goal: Beyond a pay bump—she expects to take home 30 percent more than she did in her previous job—"I wanted to grow myself."

Why full time: A part-time program would have kept the income flowing, but Heath decided against it. She was a career changer, and part time would have prolonged the transition. Plus, she preferred the intensity of full time: "When I do something, I'm going to do it 110 percent."

Why Northeastern: She lived in the Boston area and wanted to stay local. She applied to five schools, but Northeastern had a special draw: Its co-op program lets students work during their degree program for longer than the usual three-month internship.

Finances: Tuition is $33,000, and living expenses are $25,000. Heath has managed with a small merit scholarship, savings, and student loans; she expects to owe $70,000.