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The Different Types of MBA Courses: Which Should I Choose?

Studying an MBA is a big decision due to its commitment in terms of time and money.

Most full-time MBA programs in the UK take a year to complete, and the course may also require you to find a relevant work placement or internship to successfully graduate. Part-time and online MBA programs can take between two and six years to complete.

MBA tuition fees start at around £11,000 for the year for a Home student at a UK university, for example at the University of Wolverhampton. However fees can increase to more than £60,000 at some of the more prestigious London-based business schools – for example at Imperial College Business School the full-time MBA program costs £61,500. In addition to the tuition fees, you will also need to fund your living costs.

Before starting your course, it’s important to think about the reasons why you are considering studying an MBA. Do you want to advance your career? Do you want to change your career altogether? Are you looking for a higher salary? By answering these questions, you will be able to narrow down your MBA options. For example, if you want to advance the career you are already in, it may be more suitable to study the MBA via distance learning or as a part-time course, so you can continue working in your career at the same time. If you want to change career and be an entrepreneur, you might want to consider an MBA that focuses on entrepreneurship, for example the MBA in Entrepreneurship at the University of East London.

In this article we are going to look at the different types of MBA courses on offer at universities and business schools in the UK, including General MBAs, Executive MBAs and specialist MBAs. We will also consider the best mode of study – full time, part time, online and blended learning.

By fully considering all your options you should be able to find the most suitable MBA program.

Types of MBA

Different types of MBA courses

There are three main types of MBA program – these are General MBAs, Executive MBAs and Specialist MBAs. Let’s take a look at each of these in further details.

General MBAs

A General MBA provides students with broad knowledge of business and management, resulting in a well-rounded business education. This is a good option for those who know they want to advance their career in the business world, but are yet to find their niche. By studying a General MBA, you will develop skills that can be applied to a variety of different industries and business-related fields, offering you extensive business knowledge on which to build your career.

General MBA core modules

Core modules on a General MBA will usually include the following:

  • Accounting

  • Economics

  • Business Analytics

  • Management

  • Marketing

  • Corporate Finance

  • Strategy

  • Project Management

  • Leadership

Pros & cons to studying a General MBA

There are pros and cons to studying a General MBA.

The biggest advantage is that it keeps your options open. By studying a General MBA, you will get a broad knowledge on a range of essential business- and management-related topic, enabling you to enter the business world at a higher level than you may have done before gaining the qualification.

An MBA also signals to future employers that you are capable of studying at a high level, making you an appealing candidate for the role. You are also likely to meet and network with many relevant people withing the business community over the duration of your studies, and this too could provide you with plenty of great career opportunities.

The disadvantage of studying a General MBA over a specialised one is that it may not be specialised enough. Therefore, rather than leading you directly to a new career or field of business, it could be a bit too broad and mean that you may have to spend more time and money studying a more focussed area of business or finance once you have completed the MBA course.

Overall, a General MBA is a popular option because it means students don’t need to decide which area of business to focus on at the start of their MBA. Instead, a General MBA provides students with the opportunity to explore and discover various different fields before honing in on a specialised topic.

Does an MBA result in a particular profession?

An MBA can boost your career prospects as well as your earning potential, but does it lead to a specific profession? The answer is no – it doesn’t necessarily lead to a particular profession. However, it will open doors in the general areas of business and finance. By gaining a General MBA, some future career options include:

  • Finance Manager

  • Management Consultant

  • Project Manager

  • Chief Executive Officer

  • Marketing Executive

  • Chief Technical Officer

  • Human Resources Manager

Executive MBAs

An Executive MBA – also known as an EMBA – is designed for people who are already further along in their business careers and want to continue working whilst studying their MBA program to enhance their current career.

This means the structure and study schedule of the EMBA is more flexible and tailored to accommodate working professionals, by, for example holding lectures in the evenings or at weekends. Much of the teaching content is likely to be online for students to access at a convenient time.

An Executive MBA isn’t superior to an MBA, it is just targeted at a different type of student, ones that are already working in the business arena and want to boost their career potential in their current field and maybe even in their current role.

Executive MBA core modules

The core modules of an EMBA are similar to those of a General MBA and usually include:

  • Accounting

  • Economics

  • Marketing

  • Strategy

  • Corporate Finance

  • Operations Management

  • International Business

Pros & cons to studying an Executive MBA

Because an Executive MBA is designed for those who want to study an MBA alongside their current career, the major pro and con both stem from the same issue.

The pro to studying an Executive MBA is that you can study this masters program alongside your current career with the ultimate goal of enhancing and improving your career. Therefore, you don’t need to put any aspect of your life on hold to study the postgraduate course.

The con to studying an Executive MBA is the amount of time it takes and how potential intrusive it can be on the rest of your life, especially as you are likely to still be working full time in your chosen career whilst studying his challenging course. This can leave little time for anything else in your life.

An Executive MBA offers students the opportunity to gain a prestigious MBA qualification whilst maintaining their career.

Does an Executive MBA result in a particular profession?

An Executive MBA can help progress your career, particularly within your current organisation as they are specifically designed for working business professionals to maintain and advance within their existing careers.

An EMBA will provide students with valuable new leadership and management skills to enable them to get ahead in their companies and forge their business careers.

Types of MBA – specialist MBAs

Specialist MBAs 

Specialist MBAs differ from General and Executive MBAs in that, although they cover the basic knowledge and relevant skills within the business world, they also focus on a specific business-related area of interest, for example Entrepreneurship, Human Resources Management or Technology Management.

Specialist MBA programs are ideal for students who know what area of business and finance they want to work with and are keen to advance their career in this specific field. By choosing a Specialist MBA you will gain key knowledge and skills in that area, making you a sought-after professional in that field. 

Pros & cons to studying a Specialist MBA

The advantages to studying a Specialist MBA is that it can lead you directly to advancing your career in your chosen business-related area. By gaining the key skills and knowledge within this field you will have a proven interest in that area making you a desirable employee.

The major con to studying a Specialist MBA is you may restrict your area of study a bit too much, thereby not gaining enough knowledge in the broader aspects of business. This means you may find the need to study further to advance your business career if you decide you want to diversify in another direction.

Does a Specialist MBA result in a particular profession?

The resulting career of studying a Specialist MBA will depend on the specialism studied. For example, if you study a Specialist MBA with a Human Resources Management specialism you could end up working at a high level within a Human Resources career.

Different specialisms within MBAs

Here we will look at some of the more popular MBA specialisms and what they mean.


Marketing is concerned with the promotion and selling of services or goods, including researching into the value of these services and goods as well as advertising them to the target customers.

A Marketing MBA will provide students with the skills to become leaders in the field of marketing by developing their marketing research and strategy skills. Project management experiences and internships are also likely to form a key part of a Marketing MBA.

Students on a Marketing MBA will gain the experience and expertise to embark on managerial roles in marketing. They will also gain transferable skills that will make them an invaluable asset to any company or business.

Discover Marketing MBAs

Human Resource Management

The phrase ‘human resources’ usually describes the department of a large organisation that is responsible with the hiring, training, happiness and supervision of staff, as well as any necessary administration for the company’s employees.

An HR manager will have excellent people and organisational skills and will be someone people will turn to for help and assistance in the workplace. People who work in HR will sometimes need to deal with issues of conflict.

A Human Resource Management MBA will give students the knowledge and understanding to excel in HR, with modules likely to include:

  • Human Resource Management

  • Finance Management

  • Leadership Development

  • Management Practice

  • Organisational Resources

  • Strategy


On completion of a Human Resources Management MBA, students will be equipped with the skills to work in a wide range of people-focussed roles within the business community, particularly within the HR sector. Skills that the Human Resource Management MBA graduate can bring to their new career will include team-working skills, analytical abilities and a good understanding of management.

Discover Human Resources Management MBAs


Entrepreneurship is the act of creating a new business, particularly when this also involves new opportunities and products. An entrepreneur is a person who sets up such a business and they will usually take financial risks with the hope of ultimately reaping large profits.

An Entrepreneurship MBA will present the student with real-world business problems and projects, giving them skills in management, leadership, communication, sales, marketing and organisation.

Students of an MBA in Entrepreneurship will graduate with the ability to set up and promote their own new business or project. They should have gained entrepreneurial and leadership skills on their MBA to help them seize new opportunities in the business world.

Discover Entrepreneurship MBAs

Analytics Intelligence

Analytics intelligence uses machines to interpret and analyse data to enable people to understand research results better. Artificial Intelligence (AI) software will play a part in analytics intelligence, and students with a good grasp of this topic will be able to apply for key roles in software companies and other major organisations, particularly those specialising in IT and computing.


A Finance MBA is an ideal choice for people with a business-related degree background who want to develop their expertise and further their professional careers, particularly those with experience in the financial sector.

Finance MBAs will often include the ability to gain a professional qualification – for example the MBA Finance at Bangor University which includes the choice to follow the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) pathway. Finance MBAs are also often accredited by professional financial organisations – like the MBA Finance at the University of Greenwich which is ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) accredited.

Graduates of a Finance MBA will develop excellent financial management skills and be able to seek employment in the banking and financial services industry.

Discover Finance MBAs

Health Care Management

The health care industry is massive, straddling the private and public sector and including hospitals, drugs manufacturers, medical insurance companies, equipment manufacturers and many other organisations.

There is plenty of scope for management and leadership opportunities within the healthcare industry, making a Health Care Management MBA a great choice for people who want to advance in this field.

A Health Care Management MBA is suitable for health care leaders who want to explore, examine and advance existing health care systems and practices worldwide, as well as having a keen interest in the benefits of innovations and technological advances.

Health Care Management MBA graduates will have a good grasp of managerial skills, including strategy, marketing, finance and leadership. They are likely to have faced several real-world challenges and will be able to apply for senior roles in the health care industry as well as in other industries and organisations.


Consultants offer advice to help businesses and organisations to help them improve their business performance. The act of consulting involves examining a business’s overall operations including their strategy, management, finance, marketing and human resources.

The MBA modules that will help with a career in Consulting include:

  • Business Strategy

  • Marketing Strategy

  • Consulting

  • Corporate Strategy

  • Supply Chain Management

  • Leadership

  • Management


Working in consulting will use a wide range of transferrable skills gained on an MBA program, including research, communication, project management and team building skills.

Consulting is a popular career choice for MBA graduates and is also among the highest paid careers in the business world.

Operations Management

Operations management is concerned with the operating system of a business or organisation. Good operations management is essential for companies to operative effectively and efficiently as it controls all the processes of the company’s operating system, handling issues including design, maintenance and improvements.

MBA topics that would help with a career in Operations Management include:

  • Strategic Management

  • Operations Systems Design

  • Product Design

  • Project Management

  • Systems Maintenance


To pursue a career in operations management you should have practical knowledge of the current philosophies, techniques and technologies for the operation and control of operations systems. Graduates also need to have a keen interest in quality control as well as product improvement and innovation.

Engineering Management

Engineering management is the combination of two different disciplines – engineering and management. This role combines the problem-solving skills of engineering with the organisational and leadership skills of management. 

Relevant modules of study for those interested in Engineering Management are likely to include:

  • Engineering Analysis

  • Project Management

  • Supply Chain Systems

  • Leadership


MBA programs that have a focus on Engineering are designed to provide engineers with leadership skills within their field as well as to prepare them for leadership roles within technical organisations.

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Technology Management

The field of Technology Management is concerned with getting people and technologies to work together for the best of the company or organisation. People with an interest in this field will have a keen interest in up-to-date technology as well as the relevant skills to manage staff that work with these technologies.

By studying Technology Management, you will learn key skills such as project management, communication skills, IT skills and quality control.

A good understanding of Technology Management can lead to well paid and fulfilling careers including IT management, computer systems analysis and database administration. 

Discover Technology MBAs

Different types of MBA courses

Types of MBA study modes

Because an MBA is a career-advancing qualification, many programs are designed to be flexible so they can fit around the student’s current working life. Although many full-time on campus MBA programs are available, students can also opt to study their MBA part time or via distance learning.

Here are some of the different study modes in more detail.

Online MBAs

Online or distance learning MBAs are popular because they are such a flexible option, allowing the student to fit the course around their work and life commitments at a time that suits them. Lectures and tutorials will be conducted online with the student able to take full advantage of their university’s resources from the comfort of their own home.

With an online MBA there may be the occasional need to visit the university of business school campus – but this is likely to be over a weekend or during an evening so it will be of minimum disruption to the student’s working life.

An online MBA will usually take between two and six years to complete, and the pace of the program is usually determined by the student.

An MBA is a demanding qualification and it can be difficult to juggle a career alongside your studies. It is important to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed when studying an online MBA, so make sure you keep in regular contact with your supervisor.

An online MBA is ideal for someone who wants to continue work whilst studying their course, either for financial reasons or to keep advancing their current career.

Discover online MBAs

One-year full-time MBAs

In the UK, most full-time MBA programs take one year to complete – this can be up to two years in the United States and at some European business schools.

Most full-time MBA students won’t be expected to study on campus all day every day, however it is estimated that you would need to dedicate around 40 hours per week to your course.

An advantage to studying your MBA full time is that you will be able to fully immerse yourself in the course and take advantage of all the networking opportunities that it has on offer. You are also more likely to find good internship placements and will have the time to participate in these properly when studying a full-time program.

A full-time one-year MBA is the quickest way to gain the qualification so it is a good option for those in a rush to change or progress their career and who don’t want any hold ups.

It is important to make sure you have adequate funding in place if you are studying a full-time MBA, though, as it is an intensive course and you will have little spare time for part-time work to help fund your living costs and tuition fees.

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Two-year full-time MBAs

A two-year full-time MBA is a common option in the United States. In fact, when a US MBA program can be studied full time in just one year it is often referred to as an Accelerated MBA as the two-year version is the norm.

The benefits of studying an MBA full time over two years is that not only are you able to fully immerse yourself in the course and all of its demands, but you will also have time to undertake key internships and work experience placements. Internships are a great way to network with career professionals and advance your career in your chosen business-related field.

Discover full-time MBAs

Part-time MBAs

Part-time MBAs are usually studied over the course of between two and three years in the UK.

The classes and tutorials of a part-time MBA are often conducted in the evening or at weekends to allow the student to continue with full-time or at least part-time employment whilst undertaking their studies. There are also often options to study some of the modules online rather than on campus, thereby allowing for even more flexibility.

By studying an MBA part time, students are able to take advantage of the networking opportunities offered at a university while continuing with their career and to earn money whilst they’re learning.

Discover part-time MBAs 

Global MBAs

A Global MBA is an MBA program that has a focus on international business management, equipping students with the knowledge, skills and training to enable them to pursue a career on a global scale.

Global MBAs are a great idea for students wishing to pursue an international career in business and who are also looking for a large salary increase.

Business schools all over the world offer Global MBA programs, and these can usually be studied over one or two years depending on the institution.

This table shows the top 20 Global MBAs according to the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2021.


Business School


Weighted salary (US$)

Salary increase







London Business School





University of Chicago, Booth





Iese Business School





Yale School of Management





Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management










HEC Paris





Duke University, Fuqua School of Business





Dartmouth College, Tuck





University of Virginia, Darden





SDA Bocconi School of Management





New York University, Stern





National University of Singapore Business School





Cornell University, Johnson





University of Cambridge, Judge





Georgetown University, McDonough





University of Oxford, Said





International Institute for Management Development (IMD)





Esade Business School





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