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Choosing An MBA

Choosing an MBA shouldn’t be too hard! Surely most of them are very similar and it’s the dissertation/major project that is the individual part? This couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are over 150 different MBA programmes which are accredited by AMBA (Association of MBAs) alone, which is the best place to begin your search.

Some of these are specialist MBAs, e.g healthcare but 90% of them are general MBAs, although many of these have a key industry focus and are linked to local industry specialisms.

Banking is an example at the London Business School where as the energy industry has a focus at Warwick Business School.

To decide which MBA to choose you need to review several key attributes of the MBA and then decide which ones fit your requirements and which order you want to prioritise them in.

  • What are the entry requirements for your MBA? Is it just a first degree or equivalent or do you need x number of years of management experience as well?
  • What is the student to staff ratio on your MBA and how does this compare to other MBAs?
  • What level of expertise do your MBA tutors possess and how often will you have access to them in group and one to one sessions?
  • How does your course content keep abreast of current management theory and its application in the workplace?
  • How is the course content monitored and evaluated to ensure it’s of a high quality?
  • Who are the MBA alumni network and how, when and where does the network communicate? This is important if you want to develop your network of contacts to progress your career
  • Where does the MBA sit in league tables (please be aware that league tables can be based on all MBAs at a business school and not broken down by individual courses)

Once you’ve answered the above questions, you should have a much clearer idea of which MBA you want to choose.

It’s now time to start thinking about whether you want to study full or part-time and where you want to study.

There are a few different options. This will depend on what your key motivations are for wanting to study an MBA as well as your personal circumstances. Are you hoping to progress your career and need the MBA for promotion? Are you looking to change career into a new industry or do you want to move into a specialist job role within your industry?

Your personal circumstances, including being single with few commitments, being a parent of small children, caring for elderly parents, or seeking travel opportunities for your work and social life can also impact both the time you have available to study each week and where you study.

Most business schools will offer both full-time and part-time MBAs (although the times will differ enormously with evenings, weekends etc.).

However, you may also wish to consider distance and online learning MBAs where the need to physical travel to a location is only needed very infrequently or not at all. This may suit your lifestyle enormously but you should also consider that this may limit your access to dedicated MBA centres within business schools.

These can comprise of high tech base rooms, internet cafes, specialist seminar rooms and breakout/chill out areas etc. It’s wise not to underestimate the need for face to face contacts and networks.

Some of the larger business schools also offer the opportunity for you to study your MBA at any of their centres which can be across the UK, in Europe or the Far East, giving a global perspective to your MBA.

Lastly, once you’ve decided which MBA you want to study, please have a couple of back up ones ready as well, in case your first choice has been over-subscribed, as the popular ones can be.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if your MBA fees seem quite daunting that there are grants and scholarships to help you pay for your MBA. In addition, it’s a great idea to talk to your employer about whether they will sponsor your MBA.

The choices for your MBA are very wide ranging but with research, planning and asking the right questions, finding your perfect MBA can be easier than you thought.