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MBA in the UK

Written by Kirenjit Kaur

The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is a prestigious postgraduate qualification that employers value extremely highly. Taking an MBA in the UK can greatly boost your salary, professional reputation and networking opportunities. Students will gain an overview of key business practices, and develop skills in areas such as management, marketing and accounting. An MBA is often a route to promotion or a career change. In the UK, full-time MBAs tend to last 12 months, starting in September, although some universities also have a January intake. Programmes vary but generally consist of core compulsory modules, electives and a dissertation or work-based project. Many courses will also offer the opportunity for work placements or study periods abroad. In addition to networking opportunities and an overview of the business world, an MBA will teach you how to: carry out operational management; develop a marketing strategy; do strategic planning; lead a team; and read and assess financial reports.

It is important for prospective MBA graduates to consider the independent accreditations awarded to particular institutions and programmes. Accreditation is an indication of quality control and consistency and suggests that the course meets certain international standards.

The main accreditation bodies are AMBA, AACSB and EQUIS.

  • The Association of MBAs (AMBA) is a global organisation founded in 1967 which focuses primarily on international business school accreditation and membership. Based in London, AMBA is one of the three main global accreditation bodies in business education and styles itself as the world's impartial authority on postgraduate management education. It differs from AACSB in the US and EQUIS in Brussels as it accredits a school's portfolio of postgraduate management programmes but does not accredit undergraduate programmes.
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) promotes quality management education worldwide through accreditation, thought leadership, and value-added services. It is a global, non-profit membership organization of educational institutions, businesses, and other entities devoted to the advancement of management education. Established in 1916 in the USA, AACSB provides its members with a variety of products and services to assist them with the continuous improvement of their business programmes and schools. In addition AACSB strives to identify challenges and trends facing the business education industry through research and various initiatives. The association also educates students, parents, employers and counselors about accreditation and how to choose a quality business degree programme that will fit their needs.
  • The EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) is a school accreditation system. It specializes in higher education institutions of management and business administration, run by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD).  The accreditation is awarded to business schools based on general quality. The process also takes into account the business school's level of internationalization, which is not a strict requirement for accreditation by the other two major international accreditation bodies: AACSB and AMBA.


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Entry requirements

  • Undergraduate Degree

    For a general MBA, a 2:1 undergraduate degree is required, although a 2:2 is sometimes accepted. If you do not have a degree, you may be able to get a place if you have extensive professional experience.
  • Working Experience

    Business schools will often expect you to have three years of relevant work experience, increasing to between five and ten years minimum for executive MBAs.  It is rare that schools will accept a candidate immediately following completion of their undergraduate degree. As such, you will need to get at least one person who knows you well in a professional capacity to provide a reference letter. This should contain information about your personality, work ethic, leadership potential, academic record, professional experience and career accomplishments.

  • Admission Essay

    Your MBA application may require you to complete as many as three admissions essays. Essays may be in the style of a personal statement, or the business school may ask you to respond to a specific statement. Both styles of essay will serve to provide the school with information about how your values and goals have guided your professional and academic life so far.

  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

    MBA applicants must take the GMAT and submit their score as part of the application process.The GMAT is a test designed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, often used by business schools as an admissions criterion for graduate management programmes. It assesses a person’s analytical, writing, quantitative and verbal skills. The test comprises four sections:

    1) Quantitative – this section assesses the candidate’s ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems.

    2) Verbal – this section assesses the candidate’s ability to read and comprehend written material from  areas such as social sciences, history, physical sciences and business.

    3) Integrated Reasoning – this section assesses the candidate’s ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources.

    4) Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) – this section assesses the candidate’s ability to produce a written analysis of an argument, including a critique of said argument.

    score ranges between 200 and 800. The average intake of the world’s top business schools have a GMAT score anywhere upwards of 700.
  • Graduated Record Examination (GRE)

    Most schools now accept a Graduate Records Examination (GRE) score in lieu of a GMAT score. The GRE contains more of a focus on definitions and vocabulary as oppose to the GMAT’s emphasis on logic and reason.

As of January 2017, 77 business schools in the world hold the "triple crown" accreditation from the most sought-after international accreditations: AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS. There are 20 universities in the UK that have Triple Crown accreditation. 12 are IDP Clients: 

Adam Smith Business School
University of Glasgow, Glasgow

Aston Business School
Aston University, Birmingham

Birmingham Business School
University of Birmingham, Birmingham

Bradford University School of Management
University of Bradford, Bradford

Durham University Business School
Durham University, Durham

Henley Business School
University of Reading, Henley-on-Thames and Reading

Lancaster University Management School
Lancaster University, Lancaster

Leeds University Business School
University of Leeds, Leeds

Loughborough University School of Business and Economics
Loughborough University, Loughborough

Newcastle University Business School
Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne

University of Sheffield Management School
University of Sheffield, Sheffield

Strathclyde Business School
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow


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