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Linking Military Personnel with Business Schools

Men and women in the armed services have training and experience that makes them strong candidates for graduate business programs. They’re highly motivated, too—many military personnel find that the MBA can advance their career in the service or position them to transition into civilian careers.

Charlie Miersch, a retired senior associate dean from the University of Rochester William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, reports that interest in the MBA by military personnel is growing. Some 3,800 registrants for the GMAT exam last year indicated that they had a military background, and the Council’s website continues to log an ever-increasing number of hits.

Miersch consults on Operation MBA, a GMAC initiative established in 2005 to inform military personnel and veterans about the value of combining military experience and a degree in graduate management education. The program also provides information on choosing an appropriate program and school, applying, and gaining admission.

Since its inception, Operation MBA representatives have visited more than 30 military installations, where they have developed working relationships with service-based Education Service and Transition Assistance staff and related groups, including the Reserve Officers Association. They have also attended more than 50 job and education fairs to speak directly with military personnel.

Miersch urges b-school recruiters to take a closer look at military staff. An article on suggests strategies for targeting this special audience. They are a particularly attractive group for distance education. “This market is too small to be a panacea for meeting admissions goals,” Miersch says, “but because these students are so highly motivated and attractive they certainly warrant closer attention in marketing efforts.”

At, armed forces personnel and veterans can find the Operation MBA Planner, a toolkit for earning a graduate business degree, as well as a list of schools that welcome applications from military personnel and testimonials from their peers. A new narrated presentation, “The Value of Military Experience and an MBA,” is currently in the planning stage.

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