Study an MBA in the UK

In the case of most postgraduate qualifications, you can move straight on from a first degree to a postgraduate course. While it is not absolutely impossible to take an MBA in this way, it is certainly inadvisable.

Why do an MBA?

As Mike Jones, Director General of the Association of MBAs says “The MBA is focussed on themes and techniques applicable to the business world and demands that students bring to it some business theory and experience.

What distinguishes it from other business-led masters degrees is that it is both a postgraduate and post-experience qualification,” so apart from a minimum of two years work experience, what qualifications do you need to be accepted by a UK business school?

How to start

The Association’s Salary and Careers survey reveals that around 80 percent of MBA students studying part-time or full-time held a first degree and had achieved a first or upper second. So a good first degree can be said to be the norm.

Applicants are also usually required to take an entrance exam, and one criterion of how choosy the different schools are is the GMAT score they require applicants to achieve.

GMAT comprises tests in numeracy, literacy, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Non-English-speaking applicants are also required to take an English language test.

Most, but not all, business schools academic years run from September or October. Although the deadline for applications is generally April/May it is advisable to get your application n at the beginning of the calendar year in which you wish to begin studying.

Part-time and distance learning MBAs tend to begin in January so you should think about applying for these about six months prior to that.

Many prospective MBAs see the qualification as a passport to change jobs or move between companies, business functions and industries. MBAs can also look forward to a big leap in salary once they have graduated.

In fact, our latest Salary survey shows that average starting salaries for graduates have risen by 72 per cent. However, an MBA is a huge investment in both time and money and there are many factors to consider before taking the plunge.

Types of course

The first step is to decide which type of the multitude of courses available is most suitable for you. The MBA programmes can be full-time, part-time, and modular or use distant learning.

Full-time programmes usually last a year, while part-time programmes, which offer students the chance to integrate studies with employment, average two or three years.

More than 10,000 students opt for distance learning, which is the fastest growing method of MBA study. Distance learning provides a viable alternative for students who are unable to fit in part-time attendance, or who do not have access to a school of suitable standing. The course takes an average of three to five years to complete.

Additionally, a prospective student needs to consider a range of factors including the size and culture of the school, programme content, quality of faculty and student body, facilities and location.

The official MBA handbook is the Association of MBA’s Guide of Business Schools, published by Financial Times/Pitman Publishing at a cost of £29.95.

It offers the budding student information on choosing a school, the salary and career prospects open to them once they have obtained their qualification, as well as comprehensive details of programmes and schools.

Other topics covered include studying overseas, different methods of study, how to apply, financing an MBA and the impact turning to study may have on families and your social life.

The guide also includes a StudyLink MBA CD Rom which highlights programmes accredited by the Association and lists of hundred of others around the globe.

The Programme

Whatever type of MBA you opt for, the core programme will consist of basic business skills (about one-third of the course) and electives (which you choose).

As a general rule, core courses should cover managerial economics, financial and management accounting, marketing, quantitative methods, human resource management, operations management, information systems and business strategy. Increasingly schools are offering specialist MBAs but these core subjects still form the meat of the programme.

Selecting a school

Competition among business schools to attract prospective students is fierce and choosing a provider is not an easy task as there are now over 114 schools in the UK.

The reputaion of the institution from which the MBA is gained is crucial. Employers do not simply ask whether an applicant has an MBA, they also want to know where it came from.

Although Europe is beginning to establish league tables of business schools, the process of accreditation that has been carried out by the Association of MBAs for more than 25 years offers clearer, more specific guidance and gives an indication of the quality of a schools programmes that is rather better than that given by the school itself.

Programmes at 32 British business Schools and 18 schools on the continent and elsewhere carry accreditation by the Association on full-time, part-time, modular and distance learning programmes.

Accreditation by the Association gives an indication of the standing of the business school involved and also means that students are eligible for the Association’s loan scheme, which is designed to help individuals paying their own fees. Since the loan programme started in the 1970’s £130 million has been made available to students.

The rewards

Company sponsorship is the most popular method of taking an MBA. Our Salary Survey shows that 50 per cent of MBA students have all fees paid by their employers, and only 16 per cent report no financial assistance.

The decision to take an MBA cannot be taken lightly – but, as our survey demonstrates, for those who graduate the prospects, both in terms of personal development and career progression, are bright.

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