Study for an MBA
If your CV includes an MBA, it’s likely to focus employers’ attention. It’s a highly respected qualification, sought after in a wide range of career sectors, and the routes to achieving it are eminently flexible. Make it your business to find out more …
MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. An MBA, which is a postgraduate degree, provides a route into top or senior management positions in both the public and private sectors. The qualification was introduced to attract people with scientific approaches to management as industrialisation began to grip the world in the early 20th century, but – these days – MBAs exist in a range of business-related areas, including economics, education, finance, global management, hospitality and tourism, IT, leadership and telecommunications. What’s more, it’s possible to take an MBA full-time, part-time or through distance learning.
With so much flexibility within this qualification, what’s the best way to make your choices?
Planning your study
- Know your end goal, then work backwards to ensure you pick the right content in your MBA. Although there are many programmes to choose from, not all are accredited – which is important if you are seeking funding (see ‘Cost’, below). Also, employers prefer accredited courses.
- You are normally expected to have between three and five years’ work experience and hold a degree before you can enrol on an accredited programme.
- Think about the best way for you to study. You will need to put aside around 20 hours a week on a distance learning course, or you may decide to enrol on a full-time programme, which can be very intensive.
What makes up an MBA?
Most MBAs deal with core management subjects (such as human resource management, financial management and strategy) that will deepen your understanding of how business works, elective modules that you can choose according to your career path, and a written or work-based project.
Why do an MBA?
An MBA will give you:
- a globally recognised qualification
- an insight into how business works
- an understanding of the tools that businesses use
- a professional, innovative and creative approach
- enhanced managerial and leadership skills
- a high degree of employability.
Length of study
- Full-time programme: this may take from 12 months to two years. The one-year course is the most common in the UK, but would mean giving up any other job in order to focus fully on study.
- Part-time programme: this would allow you to continue with any current work and the income you may already be earning, and could be a good option if you are looking to enhance your employment skill sets.
- Modular study: this requires you to direct your own study at a pace that suits you, tackling the modules in the order you choose. Typically, it would take around three years to complete, but can be combined with other paid work, making it one of the better options for those still serving.
- Distance/open learning: this allows you to study wherever you are, sometimes in conjunction with attending live tutorials, again making it a more suitable option for serving personnel. You will complete a fixed sequence of study, although you may be able to take breaks between each of the modules. It is possible to complete your MBA in around three years, although you could, in theory, take as long as you like.
- Executive programme: this allows you to deepen your knowledge and understanding while staying with the same employer (something to think about for the future perhaps, when you’ve secured your new job in the civilian workplace). Generally speaking, an employer nominates candidates and then supports them through the programme of study, which typically takes place on a number of weekends during a set period of time.
MBAs don’t come cheap, and a one-year study programme could cost anything from £10,000–£15,000 at the budget end, to £59,000 at Cambridge’s Judge Business School and £63,000 Oxford’s Saïd Business School. However, it may be possible to source funding, and a part-time or distance learning course will allow you to stagger the cost.
Using your ELC
You can use your ELC to take courses at level 3 and above (an MBA is level 7). This means you will receive funding provided your training is offered by an approved/accredited provider listed on the ELCAS website
Note that, while you cannot access support under the FE-HE scheme to commence studies at master’s level, you can use your ELC for study at this level.
Further information on accredited MBA courses can be obtained from AMBA – the Association of MBAs: www.associationofmbas.com
Its website also includes a very useful MBA guide: www.associationofmbas.com/mbaguide