An Introduction to MBAs in the UK

MBA stands for Master in Business Administration and is a post graduate qualification taken by those who want to further their skills, knowledge and expertise in business. MBAs are generalist courses covering all aspects of business in detail, within which students may choose to specialise in a particular area such as finance, management or HR; specialised courses will generally be longer in duration.

Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, more people rely on higher education certifications to find a job and as a result, more people will study and receive degrees. Consequently, it is more challenging than ever for people to give themselves the best possible chance in the employment marketplace and so many pursue even more specialised qualifications, such as an MBA, to distinguish themselves.

It is common, and in many cases required, to commence study of an MBA after having spent some years working and gaining experience in the business sector; the MBA is generally considered a way to further and accelerate an existing career rather than a path to pursue immediately after finishing a degree.

A full-time MBA will usually take one to two years and alternatively, part-time courses are available. Duration will depend on the level of specialism and courses will cover the following areas of training: Specific, functional skills in economics, quantitative analysis, finance, marketing, operations, management and accounting as well as exercises in strategic awareness and critical evaluation will be explored in detail. Additionally, more general techniques will be developed such as leadership, people-management and decision making. What's more, the experience itself - working and learning with students from diverse cultural and employment backgrounds - will afford students invaluable and applicable knowledge.

The practical training and life-skills developed through taking an MBA will build confidence and competence in business functions to a higher level of detail. As such, having an MBA is widely considered a good way of progressing to a higher level such as a senior management position, increase salary or build the confidence and network of contacts necessary to start a new, successful business.

It is important to note that pursuing an MBA can be expensive and applicants should consider the price of the course itself as well as the potential cost of not working for one or two years- although some employers will sponsor their employees to take the MBA. Having said that, it is possible for MBA graduates to earn £10,000 - £30,000 more per year than bachelor degree holders. The difference may depend on prior experience, location or sector of employment sought and how high demand for jobs in those areas is or the reputation of the graduate school.

As with a degree, importance is placed on which institution has awarded the MBA. The UK is the world's leading provider in MBAs and while excellent courses are available in non English speaking countries, they do not tend to be as highly regarded as British institutions.

It is useful to know which courses will offer the best training and which institutions are best respected. The Association of MBAs provides an accreditation system which validates bodies that award MBAs. This acts as a quality control for applicants seeking valuable qualifications, although it is worth noting that an MBA from an unranked programme may just as successfully cover the areas necessary to progress in an existing role or company.

Examples of institutions offering accredited MBA programmes in the UK:

London Business School
Regent's Park, London, NW1 4SA
020 7000 7000
www.london.edu
Part time executive MBA, duration: 20 months

Warwick Business School
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL
024 7652 4100
www.wbs.ac.uk
Full time on-site MBA, duration: 12 months
Part time executive MBA, duration: 3 years
Distance learning MBA, flexible study

Manchester Business School
Booth Street West, Manchester, M15 6PB
0161 306 1320
www.mbs.ac.uk
Full time MBA, duration: 18 months.
Part time Global and specialised MBAs with are available on an accelerated or flexible basis, duration 2-5 years

Imperial College Business School
Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ
020 7589 5111
www.imperial.ac.uk
Full time MBA, duration: 12 months