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Hot Tips for a Graduate Degree in Business

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Group study at Chicago's Graduate School of Business.

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Smart Choices

Real Estate. Forget the recent housing downturn; interest in this specialty is surging. The Wharton School at Penn offers a real-estate major; classes include Real Estate Development and Urban Real Estate Economics. Healthcare. B-schools including Columbia offer courses in this growing sector.

Insider Tip

The University of Chicago's business school is one of several that require candidates to follow an honor code stating their application material is their own work. But admission consultants, whose services include essay help, aren't necessarily off limits. "Anyone who works with us can say it is their own work," says Graham Richmond, chief executive officer of Clear Admit in Philadelphia. His consultancy, which charges at least $200 an hour, doesn't write essays, and others shouldn't either. Find advisers who have agreed to follow ethical practices at aigac.org.

Reality Check

Mean annual starting salary for '07 B-school graduates: $80,452 Mean number of job offers for full-time M.B.A. grads: 2.4% · Top job category for new hires: marketing/sales · Mean reimbursement in '06 by companies that help employees pay for part-time M.B.A. programs: $9,767; for executive M.B.A.'s: $27,374; for online programs: $4.042 · Increase in number of GMAT registrations in '07 compared with '06: 12% · Share of full-time M.B.A. grads (2000-06) who say they "definitely made the right decision" about the school they chose to attend: 54%

Source: Graduate Management Admission Council

Getting In

Don't Hold Back. The majority of full-time M.B.A.'s who graduated in 2007 had more than three years' work experience before business school, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, but 24 percent had less. If you're younger and have something remarkable to offer, apply. The University of Rochester's Simon Graduate School of Business actively seeks "early leaders," and students zero to three years out of college make up a third of entering classes.

Take an Exam. The GMAT is still the reigning standardized test for B-schools, but a growing number, including MIT's Sloan School of Management, accept GRE scores.

Be Honest. Don't fib about your salary, employment dates, grades, or other information on your application. And don't fabricate your references. Some schools, including the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, run verifications on everyone who enrolls full time.

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