Sound decision-making is key to a successful business career, and the first critical decision an aspiring businessperson must make involves selecting the right school. Here are 10 key attributes to consider when choosing an MBA program.

1. Reputation

Brand names have substantial influence. That’s as true in education as in retail. As Forbes reported, two studies conducted 16 years apart each revealed that incoming students consistently valued prestige above all else when selecting a business program.

2. Faculty

In its list of “Top Eight Things to Look for in a Business School,” StudyLink listed “Inspiring Faculty” as number one. The better schools tend to have a diverse, talented staff drawn from around the world and provide role models for the business leaders of tomorrow.

3. Proximity to a Business Cluster

The “business cluster” phenomenon has been well-documented. Successful industries of a certain type tend to aggregate in specific geographic regions. Ancillary businesses and advanced education programs develop in support of that specialized industry.

4. Track Record

One reliable measure of an MBA program’s success is the average starting salary of its graduates. That figure should be easily accessible, and you should look it up before applying to a program.

5. AACSB Accreditation

Founded more than a century ago, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is the world’s largest business education network. The organization’s primary goal is to assure applicants that business school programs are of a high quality. As such, AACSB accreditation should be one of the first things you should look for when choosing an MBA program.

6. Competitive Tuition

It can cost up to $141,740 a year to attend a top business school. Clearly, that’s beyond many students’ means. Fortunately, many solid MBA programs around the country cost substantially less.

7. Relevant Curriculum

A relevant MBA curriculum should include standard concentrations such as accounting, finance and international business along with specialty concentrations such as strategic leadership, entrepreneurial studies and information technology tailored for students with more specific career goals.

8. Extracurricular Support

Be sure to choose an MBA program that provides benefits beyond classroom instruction. Mentors, career coaches and internships should be part of the overall education package. Typically, mentors are available for an entire school year. U.S. News & World Report valued mentorships almost as highly as classroom instruction.

9. GRE or GMAT Required

Not long ago, many MBA programs required all applicants to take the GMAT. Many schools now accept either a GMAT or GRE score. But in general, GMAT remains the gold standard at top MBA programs. The Economist has noted that many companies still evaluate GMAT scores as part of the hiring process.

10. Reciprocal Interest

Schools with good MBA programs evaluate the potential contributions of their students. Students who can demonstrate that they will add value to the program have a higher likelihood of acceptance.

If you’re trying to choose an MBA program, consider a Master of Business Administration from the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics at the University of Delaware. To learn more, visit the website.