Postgraduate programmes: Business and finance

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Postgraduate programmes in business and finance

How to make an impact in the world of Business and Finance

In the fast-changing and increasingly competitive world of business and finance, a first degree might no longer be enough to launch you into a top job in this field. Therefore postgraduate programmes in a range of business- and finance-related areas are rapidly becoming the best way to help students start out on a dynamic, high-salary career.

Visit for more information on business-related postgraduate programmes.

Postgraduate programmes in business

The MBA (Masters of Business Administration) is the primary post-experience postgraduate programme in business. It is an intensive course of professional development aimed at ambitious graduates with at least three years of work experience in a managerial position, offering them an opportunity to accelerate, enhance, or re-route their career.

In general an MBA is more practical and project-based than a specialist master’s course, and it offers a comprehensive general background in management. A full-time MBA normally lasts between a year to 18 months – but there are usually plenty of part-time and distance-learning options, and even modular courses sponsored by an employer. All of these different options mean it’s a flexible and robust way of giving a kick-start to your career path.

An MBA tends to be characterised by the intensity of its teaching and a focus on networking, intended to offer its participants new opportunities and to develop transferable skills. The overall purpose of this qualification is to improve your employability and prestige in the workplace, as well as to prepare you for a high-level job.

Most MBA courses emphasise a wide-spanning programme – aiming not to specialise too much, but rather to train young professionals in a variety of key areas of management, including communication and leadership skills.

An Executive MBA (EMBA) runs along similar lines – but is more intense as it is designed for graduates with more than 10 years of work experience.

A DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) is a high-level business qualification aimed at global executives looking to undertake doctoral level research into a business issue without putting their career on hold. DBAs tend to run as part-time degree programmes lasting 4-6 years, for example the International Executive Doctorate offered by Cranfield University.

Find out more about postgraduate programmes in International Business.

Postgraduate programmes in finance

If you’re looking for a more rigorous approach to financial and economic theory, in contrast from the more general management-based framework of an MBA, then an MSc (Master of Science) in Finance is a good option. This kind of business-related programme is geared towards training up professional specialists and analysts in the financial sector. In these kind of postgraduate programmes, students gain practical skills and knowledge in the practice and principles of finance which they can then transfer directly to the workplace.

An MSc in Finance is likely to be rather quantitative and analytical in content, with a strong bias towards pure mathematics, it can also lean more towards lecture- and theory-based learning than some other business-related courses. However, many business and finance programmes combine core taught modules with elective opportunities and project-based or dissertation work – so you should be able to find a course tailor-made to suit your needs. Also part-time and distance learning options are often available. There are also some business programmes that are geared towards a specific industry or area, such as investment or international banking.

Master’s programmes in finance are highly competitive, particularly those offered by the most prestigious UK universities. You’ll normally need to have a First or 2:1 in finance, economics or mathematics – or another very relevant subject – to be considered for a place. Unlike a post-experience degree like an MBA, work experience is not always necessary – however work experience in a relevant field may well boost your application. A full-time master’s programme in finance usually lasts a year if taken full time.

If you’re interested in a career in research, you’ll find that most business schools offer doctoral programmes in finance. A full-time PhD in finance generally lasts three years, consisting of supervised individual research.

Business students: case studies

Bram, 23, from Antwerp, studied an MSc in Accounting and Financial Analysis at Anglia Ruskin University. He says, “Studying finance really marks you out from other business students because it helps you develop a specific set of skills. It was a tough year for me, tougher than I expected, but it’s worth it for the difference it made to my CV.”

Anja, 27, is studying an MA in Educational and Competence Management, she says, “I’m doing it because I want to specialise more later on in an area which will be very important for companies later on… I think it will help me in the future, because it’s something that plays a role in every business… I enjoy what I do, not least because it’s a well-structured course at my university. We often get to discuss practical examples, so it’s applicable to real working environments.”

Find the perfect UK programme

Search for the perfect UK postgraduate programme for you using's comprehensive course search. You can search the comprehensive database of UK postgraduate programmes by subject, type of course (taught or research), study mode and UK location.

You can also find out more about UK universities and colleges using the A–Z institution listing.

Fees and scholarships

Fees for specialised master’s programmes can vary between less than £10,000 to over £30,000 a year, and international fees are often substantially higher than for Home and EU students. Costs for an MBA are high – often upwards of £30,000 per annum – with the 18-month long MBA at London Business School costing £57,500 for students in 2012. These high fees are often justified by the long-term career investment, given the considerable salary boost that an MBA can bring. 

Read our section on Fees and Funding for general information about tuition fees and scholarships for postgraduate study.

Tips for business and finance postgraduate study

In the cut-throat world of business, reputation is important so make sure you put time into researching the right degree at the right university to get you where you want to be.

  • Keep your goals in mind. It is in your best interest to start thinking about your career path early on.

  • Be vocal! It’s never too early to start networking. Get to know people. Talk to your professor s and your fellow students –and as the course draws to a close make sure you stay in touch with people. You never know which connections might be important to you in the future.

  • Get to know your own abilities and how to push yourself. Be realistic about your capabilities but above all, keep ambitious – nobody’s going to hand you a job on a plate!

Looking for funding for postgraduate studies? Check out the exclusive bursaries on offer from Postgrad Solutions.

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University of Birmingham Business SchoolUniversity of Birmingham Business School
Univeristy of Glasgow, College of Social SciencesUniveristy of Glasgow, College of Social Sciences
Sheffield University Management SchoolSheffield University Management School
Kent Business SchoolKent Business School