Studying an MBA could be your passport to a successful career as a business leader, entrepreneur or management guru, and it remains one of the most popular programmes globally for students seeking to improve their skills and employability. The salaries enjoyed by successful MBA graduates are good, but realising your dream to complete your management education at postgraduate level can be a challenge. Successful MBA graduates have matched their skills with their ambition, so are you ready to join them and take the next step on your journey?

What is an MBA?

An MBA (Masters of Business Administration) is a postgraduate course structured around programme content such as financial management, marketing, international business strategy, project management, leadership, digital innovation, sustainability etc. Concepts such as these are studied intensively, and assignments are supported with real world examples, sometimes in partnership with outside organisations.

MBA courses are usually completed in one year full-time or two years part-time, so with a shortened study period (compared to an undergraduate degree) the student will be fully immersed in the learning experience.

Who studies for an MBA?

An MBA requires people with experience from the workplace at a supervisor level as well as proof of academic competence. The study themes in the programme are applied through the assignments that are set, so candidates need experience of how the models work in the workplace as well as from the research theories. Most MBA students are mature in experience, it’s a good idea to reflect on your study and career path to date before deciding that an MBA is right for you.

What does it cost?

MBA programme fees can be very expensive, with accommodation and living costs extra, but there are excellent programmes available in UK business schools and universities that are more reasonably priced. The UK government offer a Postgraduate Masters loans scheme. Postgraduate loans of up to £10,906 are available to eligible UK/EU students (under the age of 60).

Many part time programmes are delivered online through blended learning, and this can be very cost effective because students can adapt their study around their work and other priorities. Remember the experience and salary dividend that you can enjoy as an MBA graduate more than compensates for the fees.

Where do I study?

Lots of UK universities include a School of Management where business and finance or marketing is offered at postgraduate level, and an MBA programme is usually included as part of the range of courses, however students often choose to study at a recognised business school which can either be part of a university, or a separate establishment.

There are business schools offering Masters business courses and MBAs across all corners of the globe, and they vary widely in terms of content, accessibility and fees. Most of them can be compared with each other using a set of four criteria, and this is what we recommend for candidates looking for schools to choose: –

  • Reputation = quality

Many of the most successful business schools work hard to achieve recognition in the global quality ranking surveys (QS, Financial Times etc). These are annual surveys that measure the performance of the business school according to a number of indicators. Business schools that are seeking to attract top students invest in teaching facilities and student support to achieve a good position on these tables.

In addition, there are three main organisations that strive to improve the quality of the taught experience, particularly US, EU and UK business schools, and these are AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUISS (EFMD Quality Improvement System) and AMBA (Association of MBAs). Business schools with all three- ‘triple accredited’ status are very competitive and places are highly sought after. Masters Compare features a number of these.

In the UK, universities that are research intensive attract world leading professors and academic students. These institutions measure the quality of the research outcomes through the Research Excellence Framework (REF). This survey is undertaken every five years, so universities with good REF scores are often the most successful as far as the quality and relevance of their research activity.

  • Location = access to top employers and research opportunities

Studying an MBA will include networking opportunities with organisations that have a relationship with the course, and these are important opportunities for candidates to take advantage of during their programme and in the period after graduation. There will be external speakers invited in to present to the MBA cohort, and visits to major employers, possibly overseas form part of the programme.

Many schools will include an Advisory Board which is made up of regional business leaders that have an interest in the MBA programme, and they offer advice on the structure and content. It will be useful to explore these partnerships because you may prefer to study at a campus that has that links with the sector that you are most experienced in.

  • Teaching style= full time, part time, online and blended.

The style of teaching you choose is important, particularly if you are returning to education after a break. In a campus or school environment traditional lectures, workshops and tutorials will be normal. There will be individual and team assignments with presentations required, and your organisation and leadership skills will be tested.

For students who opt to study online part-time you will use blended learning techniques, where you work on your assignments through a virtual study portal, and these are growing in sophistication with most candidates having access to high speed broadband. Studying remotely is not the same as studying alone – you will always be connected to your tutors and fellow students, and there will be opportunities for classroom interaction during the course.

  • Significant Alumni= can you see yourself as one of them in the future?

Universities and business schools will feature stories on their websites regarding former MBA students who have gone on to enjoy successful careers. This is important and it can be helpful following the social media feeds of the school or named individuals for a while to get a feel for what drives them and how the business school has contributed to their future ambition. Their stories are shared so that you can get a sense of the environment that you could be entering, and to show what the school expects – how far could you go in your career if you are as committed as they have been?

How do I find out more about the MBA I want to study?

Look online for Open Days that are scheduled, or take advantage of virtual visits if you are unable to travel. Often the MBA recruitment and admissions staff will attend recruitment fairs in major cities so these are a good place to compare a group of providers all under one roof. There are admissions tutors in all MBA departments who will be available to answer your questions or arrange opportunities to meet with programme leaders.

Find the MBA programme for you