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What Is An MBA (Masters of Business Administration)?


A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate qualification awarded to students who have demonstrated high levels of knowledge and skill in business management. The MBA course is designed for students who already have appreciable management level experience, gained in the workplace, but wish to develop their leadership skills. The MBA is highly valued by employers worldwide and, according to the University of Essex, is currently the most popular professional degree program in the world.

Entry requirements for an MBA program

Relevant work experience is a prerequisite for any MBA program. In the case of a regular MBA, business schools typically require a minimum three years’ work experience, but for an executive MBA – primarily designed for working business leaders – they may require a minimum of five, or even ten, years’ worth of experience. Candidates also typically require an undergraduate degree, at 2:1, or possibly 2:2, level and may be required to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The GMAT provides candidates with an opportunity to showcase their business skills and demonstrate their academic ability.

Why study an MBA?

There are many reasons to study an MBA program. It is designed for working professionals who wish to progress an established career, or switch careers. As such, the MBA course exposes candidates to all aspects of business, including accountancy, finance, marketing and human resources, at graduate level and prepares them for senior management roles. The MBA is a respected business qualification worldwide and can open up new career opportunities, at home and abroad, for the holder. According to the Association of MBAs (AMBA), MBA graduates can typically expect to earn over £80,000 per annum.

Study modules 

Study modules vary from program to program, but the MBA course typically consists of core compulsory modules, voluntary modules and at least one major project, or dissertation, with a ‘real world’ client. Many MBA courses offer opportunities for company visits, exchange programs and work placements, while assessment takes the form of examinations, essays and group activities.

Length of study for an MBA program

The length of time it takes to study for an MBA depends on whether the candidate studies full time, part time, or via distance learning. In the United Kingdom, a full-time MBA course typically takes a full calendar year to complete, while a part-time MBA course typically take two or three years, but possibly up to five, to complete. Candidates lacking time or access to a suitable business school may like to consider an MBA by distance learning, which typically takes between two and six years to complete.

Cost of an MBA program

The cost of tuition fees for a Masters of Business Administration varies from institution to institution. In the United Kingdom the course will typically range from £10,000 and £40,000 for a full-time 12-month course. In the United States, tuition fees between $45,000 and $65,000 are not uncommon.

Self-funding is one of the most popular methods of paying MBA tuition fees. Using savings, indeed working whilst you're learning, are popular ways to pat your tutition fees. Other possible options for funding a Masters of Business Administration include employer sponsorship, loans and scholarships. 

Where to study an MBA program

Thousands of universities and business schools confer MBA qualifications, but the Association of MBAs (AMBA) is the best starting point when you’re looking for the best MBA program for you. AMBA accredits over 150 MBA programs, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, based on entry requirements, access to leading academic staff and other criteria. In Europe, the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) similarly accredits MBA programs, as does the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in the United States.

Career benefits of an MBA program

Tuition fees for MBA courses are high, but so, too, is the return on investment. Research has shown that MBA graduates from institutions in the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings in 2016 increased their salaries by between 55% and 111%, but financial gain is not the only career benefit of an MBA. Qualifications from business schools in the United Kingdom, in particular, are well regarded around the world and can lead to an international business career, in the same or a different industry.


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