What should I look for in an MBA school?
You cannot separate the search for the right MBA program and the right business school in which to take your MBA. Passing an MBA course and getting the letters after your name is one thing, but achieving that on a course at a recognized business school is a different matter. The respect and recognition of your program is inseperable from the respect and recognition of the business school at which you go it.
Firstly, find out how well known the business school is. Don't just ask one person, check on it in as many ways as you possibly can. Ask around in the communities of interest to you. So if you plan to get a job in a particular sector or industry you should ask people already in that sector or industry about which business school would be best for you to get an MBA in.
Many business magazines publish rankings of business schools. These rankings are all over the world but should always be taken with a pinch of salt as they have different ways to rank business schools. Take it as read that if a business school is at the top of most of these rankings then it is a very very good school. In general, anything in the top 75 schools in the world is going to be very good, but top 10 obviously helps.
You should find out how long the school has been established. Be careful when you do this as school's change names sometimes. This is usually because they have received a very large donation from a benefactor. So, City University Business School, also known as 'CUBS' is now called Cass Business School, due to a donation it received from the Sir John Cass foundation which helped it build a new building in Moorgate.
Look in the press - many journals and papers carry a regular feature on management education, and you should find out how many times that business school is mentioned. An online search of the major journals and papers will probably do the trick.
It's not just how well the school is known, it's also whether it is well respected. People should tell you what they think of a school. If you just look at rankings you may find that the criteria that they use is not relevant for you. Is the school accredited by the major bodies? Is it part of a grouping of major schools and does it have exchanges with major schools?
Then you should check on the school's reputation in research and publications. The faculty of the school may be engaged in prominent research in their subject area. The faculty should have authored some well known books at least.