Investing in an MBA is no joke. Degrees from top programs can set you back $100,000 or more. If you're going to take the plunge and target the best of the best, then you want to ensure your MBA is going to work as hard for you as you will for it. 

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, and the survey results of 3,698 employers, here are the top programs broken down by innovation and creativity, technical training, strength of brand, and reputation for entrepreneurship. I've added my personal recruiting perspective to each. 

Bloomberg asked recruiters which schools:

Produce the Most Creative Graduates

  1. Stanford 
  2. Yale 
  3. Georgetown (McDonough) 
  4. UC at Berkeley (Haas) 
  5. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 

When asked about their program, students and alumni from Stanford frequently attributed the creativity of the program to its talented student base, world-renowned professors, and a well connected and valuable alumni network. 

Although foundational skillsets and traditional business acumen are essential, the world of work is changing. To stay competitive, companies have to possess talent that can think outside the box and position their organizations for future success. 

Train Better Than the Rest

  1. Brigham Young (Marriott) tied with Georgetown (McDonough)
  2. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 
  3. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) tied with Yale 
  4. Columbia tied with INSEAD and Pennsylvania (Wharton) 
  5. IESE Business School 

When taking a look at their respective curriculums, Brigham Young and Georgetown focus on a comprehensive mix. Subjects include corporate financial reporting and decision making, leadership and communication, operations management and managerial statistics, strategic HR management and social intelligence, business strategy and ethics, and marketing management. 

When considering the goal of an MBA, it's important that graduates are exposed to a well-rounded curriculum that emphasizes the importance of organizational connectedness and collaboration. Leadership roles don't have the luxury of operating in vacuums, so leaders need the training to deal with situations across their organizations. 

Have the Best Brand

  1. Stanford
  2. Harvard 
  3. Pennsylvania (Wharton) 
  4. Georgetown (McDonough) 
  5. MIT (Sloan) 

Bloomberg defined brand as the ability of the school to give graduates a significant advantage in their careers and the school's overall reputation in the business community. 

If you're pursuing an MBA in hopes of landing a job at a top company or solidifying your expertise to attract customers, let's face it -- reputation matters. These programs have managed to build brands that are greater than the sum of their alumni networks. 

Are Known for Entrepreneurship 

  1. Stanford 
  2. Washington (Foster)
  3. UC at Berkeley (Haas)
  4. Georgetown (McDonough) 
  5. Rice (Jones) 

Entrepreneurship isn't just for the business owners and startups of the world. Now, large organizations are looking to formally trained entrepreneurs to help them reimagine their businesses, drive change management, and keep them relevant. 

An MBA is a once-a-lifetime thing. If you're going to target a top program and pay a premium, make sure that your degree delivers more than just a diploma and a designation.