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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about getting in to the Skoll program? Still not sure if the program is right for you? Here are some of the questions our admissions team is frequently called up on to answer. If you don't see your question here, feel free to contact us to ask!

Wouldn't it be better if I joined the workforce to gain a few years' experience and then came back for an MBA?

Virtually every student asks this question before applying. It is a good question in the sense that joining the Skoll Program is a Big Decision - one that should be considered very carefully. In another sense, however, it is an odd question. These same engineering students never seriously considered "joining the workforce and gaining a few years' experience" after secondary school and then "coming back for a BASc." Young lawyers don't usually spend a decade in the workforce before studying law, nor do aspiring physicians hang around doctors' offices for a few years before entering medicine.

Another factor to consider is that plans to do a degree "later" are all-too-often made impractical by the responsibilities of life that come along after graduation: marriage, children, mortgages, a demanding position, etc. Better to exploit the opportunity while it is available.

Still, one can think of two possible explanations for the "work now, come back later" concerns. First, some students feel that they have just spent four or five years (and tuition fees) studying engineering and they wonder how it makes sense for them then to switch into management without ever practicing as an engineer. Here it is good to keep in mind that "management" is not replacing engineering in the student's career. It is being added. The most fundamental premise of the Skoll Program is that in combining the skill-sets of engineering and management, one Is enabled by a whole capability that is greater than the parts. The need for such people is very strong at present, and growing every day. Most engineers, in practice, tend eventually to perform administrative and management activities; why not hit the ground running, move up faster, and have an even more exciting career?

A second possible explanation for the "work now, come back later" viewpoint is that the MBA is felt to be almost a special case pedagogically, where experiences are exchanged as part of "class participation." Since the non-Skoll stream of MBA students entering Rotman have about 5.5 years of experience, won't this give them an advantage in MBA course classes? Not necessarily. Sometimes, "two years of experience" is really just "one year of experience, twice." In other words, one must also look at the variety, quality, and level of the experience. Then, too, one mustn't forget that Skoll students have16 intense months of experience themselves - the PEY - not to mention summer jobs and other miscellaneous activities in which Skoll students tend especially to become involved. Experience with the first Skoll cohorts is already showing that they can compete with the non-Skoll MBA students. They get on the Dean's Honor List; they get great summer (mid-MBA) jobs; and they find exciting positions on graduation.

In any case, each student must judge these alternatives for him- or herself. In doing so, however, a word of caution, as illustrated by the diagram below. In comparing the Skoll path to the "traditional" path, one must make the comparison at a fixed age. Comparing a freshly-graduated Skoll student (at, say, age 25) with a freshly-graduated "traditional" MBA student (at, say, age 30) is quite unfair. Both careers should be compared at age 30. (Or any other common age.) When this is done, the Skoll Program starts to look like a great head start on a great career.

How can I possibly afford to do an MBA?

Tuition fees at the Rotman School are indeed challenging to one's budget. Students considering an application to the Skoll Program have just gotten used to the idea of paying the fees at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering for four years, and now must contemplate even higher fees at Rotman for a further two years. 

What is the cost? And, what is the benefit?

While the details of such contemplation will vary from student to student, the essentials of the cost-benefit analysis are common to all.

Apart from the pleasure that comes from an exciting career, in purely financial terms the higher levels of compensation lead to a payback in a very few years. There is also a strong foundation of financial assistance, some of which is targeted exclusively at the Skoll Program. In fact, every Skoll student thus far has had an annual scholarship while studying at Rotman. While this cannot be absolutely guaranteed every year in the future, these scholarships go far to mitigate the financial load of tuition fees and other expenses.

Clearly, however, the most fundamental benefit is to combine an engineering degree from Canada's strongest engineering school with a management degree from Canada's top business school (according to the Financial Times of London), thereby positioning oneself for senior leadership in today's technically-intensive business world.

It's difficult to improve on the wording of a recent Skoll Program applicant, who concluded one of his essays this way:

I have concluded that the pursuit of an MBA degree is something that I would very much like to do, but the question remains, why now? Well, if the opportunity presents itself now - through a program such as the Skoll Program - then the question might very well be, why not now? By getting started on my MBA degree earlier, by being able to focus on my studies without the burden of mortgages, bills, and other such responsibilities which come at an older age, and perhaps most importantly, by being able to graduate with two top-notch degrees at an age much earlier than many of my peers, the Skoll program is indeed a program which very well makes sense. The question is more appropriately phrased as, “Why not now?” for then, the answer is obvious: There is no reason to wait at all.

Contact UsSkoll BASc/MBA

For more information, please contact:

Ally Morrow
Assistant Director, Full-Time MBA program

Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto


105 St.George St, Toronto, ON M5S 3E6


Tel: (416) 978.2551