The MBA explained

GB's 60 second guide on what the MBA involves


The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most highly coveted qualifications in the world, but also one of the most keenly debated; some believe it an essential passport to business success, others an expensive waste of time.
What is the MBA?

The MBA is a postgraduate course which was first introduced in Britain in 1965, and which aims to equip students with advanced, relevant business skills.

The average age of an MBA student is around 27, so it’s not designed for someone fresh out of undergraduate study. In fact, many courses expect you to have two or three years’ work experience before you begin.

Business schools across the country offer the MBA course, and all circumstances are catered for. Whether you plan to study full-time, part-time, or take a distance learning course, you should be able to find a suitable, convenient programme.

The course is accredited in the UK by the Association of MBAs, and the qualification can help you secure a senior managerial role in the business community. However, critics believe would-be applicants are better served learning their trade in a full-time job.

The structure

In Britain, most MBA programmes last a year; however in other countries, such as America, the course can take closer to two years. If you choose to study part-time, it will probably take longer to complete your MBA.

The MBA is designed to give students a step-by-step overview of business and management, covering the core disciplines such as accounts, marketing, human resources and operations management.

Most universities break down their MBA course down into modules. For example, Warwick University’s MBA features seven key modules: Accounting & Financial Management, Economics of the Business Environment, Market Analysis, Modelling & Analysis for Management, Operations Management, Organisational Behaviour and Strategic Advantage. Many courses also offer you the chance to take a number of elective modules – specific courses in a particular area, which can be taken overseas.

Several schools offer exchange programmes, allowing students to gain experience in overseas institutions; indeed, the London Business School currently has 32 international exchange partners.

The requirements

It’s not cheap to do an MBA. Some schools charge as much as £15,000 in tuition fees for their course, although the cost will depend on the prestige of the course provider, and the duration. Part-time and distance learning courses will probably be cheaper than the full-time version.

There are also rigorous entry requirements in most cases. Many schools require applicants to pass the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the GMAT exam – a stage which can demand up to three months’ preparation.

Although qualification requirements vary, most will expect a decent university degree, and good references – one of which should be from a recent employer.

It is prudent to apply well in advance – if the course starts in September, you should get the application in by March at the latest. Many students choose to apply to several schools, enhancing their chances of acceptance; however, it is imperative that each application is unique and personal, and multiple applications can prove particularly time-consuming.

Apply and find out more

Several MBA fairs are held in London each year, giving you ample opportunity to find out more about course fees, content and requirements.

You can also source further information from the Association of MBAs website – www.mbaworld.com. The Association publishes an annual guide, which offers a comprehensive rundown of MBA tuition in the UK.

A number of publications including the Financial Times, the Economist and Business Week publish annual ranking tables for MBA courses; these can offer a valuable instrument for weighing up the merits of individual schools and course providers.

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