MBA in Seattle | TopMBA

Seattle, Washington, in the US Pacific Northwest, is the pre-eminent alternative city, the birthplace of alternative rock, where Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam emerged and the place where Starbucks first brought European coffee culture to America. In addition, it’s an alternative Silicon Valley, where Amazon and Microsoft first came to life.

Known as the Emerald City, Seattle is picture-perfect and there’s nowhere better to get a view than the iconic Space Needle observation deck, a hallmark of the 1962 World’s Fair. This lovely city will charm aspiring MBAs, who want to be in a progressive place, rich with opportunities and ripe with resources.  

The interesting economy is another draw. Business in the state is a good mix of more established industrial companies such as Boeing and new, innovative technology and green firms. Big name employers and innovation make the city a good fit for hungry MBAs.

In 2017, the website Wallet Hub ranked Washington as the top state in the United States for its economy. The calculation included factors such as the number of patents filed, available technology jobs, gross domestic product, and exports per capital. Seattle greatly contributed to that result. So, it’s no wonder the city, which is located on the Puget Sound, is like a siren for MBA aspirants.

Despite the exceptional economy, Seattle isn’t the first city that comes to mind when considering graduate business education. However, the tech sector is calling, and there are decent options to be found here for earning that MBA.

The best known business school in Seattle is the University of Washington Foster School of Business, which is ranked 64th in the world in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018. City University of Seattle, Albers School of Business and Economics, and Seattle Pacific University are other options.

University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business

As you would imagine, Seattle is attracting a diverse group of people and so is the Foster School. The Class of 2018 is composed of 39 percent international students and 43 percent women. A class with that kind of make up is a statement about the future of work, which can be quite appealing to young, ambitious people.

Known by its current name since 2007, the business school actually dates back to 1917. At the time, the nation was experiencing economic growth, and people were eager to educate themselves to take advantage of what was happening in the economy. The same is still true today.

On the school’s website, the dean promotes the close relationships the community has with important employers in Seattle, including Costco and Nordstrom. There’s a sense that the school makes a distinct effort to be part of the surrounding community. Clearly, students have access to local opportunities.

The school’s goal is to be the best public business school in the United States. By outlining its values – “integrity above all, excellence in all we do, and inclusiveness and respect for others (we>me)” – on their website, the school sets itself apart. Along with its commitment to diversity, these values are a way to define the culture and this uplifting approach to business fits nicely with the progressive nature of the greater city of Seattle.

Foster’s curriculum is a good match for those with an interest in global strategic management. There’s an emphasis on global business, strategy and leadership. In the second year, in addition to electives, students still have two core courses to take – ethics and macroeconomics. Teaching methods include hands-on experiences, study abroad, and leadership and teamwork development.  

City University of Seattle

The MBA program at City University of Seattle offers students a solid, localized education. How this school sets itself apart is by offering flexible options, such as an online MBA and intensive weekend programs, and small class sizes that allow for a more personalized experience.

In addition, the school stresses that its courses teach taking advantage of business trends, implementing strategies, developing relationships, and making the most of diversity in domestic and global markets.

There’s a real sense that the curriculum is aimed at being practical, passing on the kind of skills that will allow students to swiftly apply theory to practice. There are a number of specializations from which students can choose, including change leadership, entrepreneurship and even a specialized study.

Seattle University Albers School of Business

Among the Northwest’s best options for graduate business school, Albers puts great emphasis on ethics, a nod to the school’s Jesuit tradition.

The university dates back to 1937, and what would become the business school launched 10 years later. Today, it’s one of the best schools for working professionals in Seattle with convenient programs, such as a part-time MBA, one-year Bridge MBA for recent college graduates, and master’s programs in accounting, finance and certificate programs.

In the summer of 2018, the school is adding a master’s in sports administration and leadership. It will include internships with industry professionals and is another differentiator. US News and World Report ranks the part-time MBA program, which is the school’s flagship, as the second best in the Northwest.

Seattle Pacific University School of Business, Government, and Economics

Seattle Pacific University is also a Christian school. As a result, it too emphasizes ethics. Administrators stress that its graduates should be scrupulous leaders, saying on their website: "Deeply grounded in Christian faith and values, we develop leaders who advance human flourishing through service in business, government, and civil society."

Known for its small, tight-knit community, the school focuses on ethical leadership, strategy, general management and communication skills. What is interesting is the school suggests MBA students can better manage work/life balance after going through the program.

Like Albers, this school targets working professionals by allowing people to complete the MBA program on a part-time basis. It allows for the possibility of customizing coursework, so that you can incorporate challenges you’re facing on the job. This way, you can immediately apply what you learn.

One of the unique offerings is mentorship. Students can connect with business professionals from a large swath of industries as a means of networking and getting advice to navigate their careers. 

More than half the Class of 2017 at the Foster school entered roles in technology companies. Among the firms hiring Foster graduates are Amazon, Dell Inc., Facebook, Google, IBM, and Intel. Consulting took a distant second place among the most popular industries with 23 percent of grads going into that field. Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, KPMG, McKinsey, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers are among the employers who hired Foster grads.

Financial services and pharmaceuticals only hired six and eight percent of the grads respectively, which is an indication of the city’s unique economy and employers. It’s also a sign of the times as financial services gains more competition from a number of industries for MBA talent.

What is most remarkable about the Foster career stats is that the majority of graduates hired are taking on marketing/sales roles as opposed to consulting. More than 30 percent of the Class of 2017 took on a marketing/sales role, whereas 27 percent accepted a consulting position. It’s a small difference, but many MBAs are sought for consulting, so this is interesting.

Seattle, like most cities, can be expensive, but MBAs are paid well for their work in most cases. The Foster school does not share a total average or median for its graduates’ salaries, but you can find high and low salaries for various industries and functions. The Class of 2017 saw the highest salary, $156,000, for consulting. The lowest salary is listed in that same field as $82,500.

The salaries in the most popular industry, technology, are less spread out. The average in technology is $120,408, while the high is $150,000 and the low is $97,000.

Clearly, Seattle just might be one of the most underrated bastions of business education and employment. Aspiring MBAs should pay attention to the innovative companies that are leading the world into the future and calling the place home. The city offers localized MBA programs that can help people find success in their own backyard.

Many of the programs are also practical and convenient, which allows people to keep working while pursuing more education. All this amounts to plenty of reason to give Seattle a chance if you’re considering an MBA.