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Despite the increasing range of management qualifications on offer, the reputation of the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) as the leading international business qualification continues to grow.

An MBA as part of your professional development

Since 1994 the number of MBAs graduating worldwide has increased by over 25% a year and, despite economic uncertainty, a recent survey by the Association of MBAs shows steady growth in MBA student enrolments. The survey indicates that over 75,000 students applied to MBA programmes offered by the Association’s 150 accredited business schools in 2007.

Many European business schools have advanced their international reputations – ten years ago only three European Business Schools ranked among the top twenty global MBAs, now eight have a place in this group. However, emerging markets in Asia, India and South America are increasingly important. In this context ambitious individuals – some at an early stage in their career and others already in senior positions – are seeing the MBA as a critical part of their professional development.

What you need to get onto a course

The London-based Association of MBAs, whose reputation as the advocate for the MBA is internationally recognised, provides impartial advice and information to anyone who wants to know more about the qualification. Founded in 1967, the Association’s mission is to advance post-graduate business education. We stand for the highest level of professionalism and quality in management education and our positioning as the international accreditation body for MBA programmes (we currently accredit MBA programmes in 66 countries) is unrivalled.

The Association represents all those with an interest in the MBA and our select membership (a global network of over 9,000) includes students, graduates, business schools and employers. Accreditation is independent and rigorous, involving the external scrutiny of faculty, curriculum, assessment and student services. Do not rely on rankings alone as your guide to business schools – they are a useful indicator of quality but, unlike accreditation, do not represent a truly comprehensive validation of the many highly respected MBAs on offer.

Given the significant investment involved in MBA study it makes sense to spend time researching what’s available before selecting your business school and programme. For admission to an accredited MBA you will need to have a first degree and at least three years relevant work experience. Most business schools will also require you to complete an admissions test – either their own or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) which assesses quantitative and written skills.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees can range from £15,000 to £60,000 depending on the business school’s location and position in the rankings – and clearly this fee can be spread across two to three years for part-time programmes. The Association of MBAs offers a preferential loan scheme for students resident in the UK and most business schools will have scholarships and bursaries available to support students with financial difficulties.

Want to know more about MBA’s?

The two year full-time MBA is no longer the norm. In Europe, part-time courses are increasingly popular and, if accredited, have the same recognition and value as full-time programmes. Other learning options, such as combining distance learning with face-to-face coaching, are offered by many business schools, allowing students to work and manage other commitments while they study.

The qualification now appeals to a wider and more diverse student market and one of the key benefits of MBA study, particularly in Europe, is the experience of working with a group of like-minded people from a mix of countries, cultures and organisations. To take full advantage of this benefit and to help develop cross-cultural business skills, much of the learning on today’s MBA programmes will focus on group work, student collaboration and the development of behavioural and interpersonal skills. It is important to bear in mind that the MBA is positioned as a post-experience qualification, designed to build on and enhance experience gained in the ‘real world’. This is what makes it unique in comparison with other management programmes.

MBA students are expected and encouraged to bring different experiences to the course, to share them and apply them to different business contexts. So the course offers a powerful mix of structured learning and the practical application of knowledge, skills and experience.

Studying for an MBA is an enriching experience. You will be intellectually challenged by engaging with top academics and students. On an accredited MBA programme the student cohort will typically include individuals from over 25 different countries. You will also be able to plug into new business networks: MBA graduates say that the contacts they make at business schools and through membership of the Association of MBAs are among the most valuable and important benefits of the MBA experience.

Above all, you will learn more about yourself, and will have time to reflect and experience the excitement and stimulation that comes with new learning in a challenging environment.

Employers continue to value the MBA as a guarantee of an individual’s all-round business skills and knowledge at a strategic level. High quality leadership skills are in short supply and, in the face of risk and uncertainty, many companies are prepared to pay a high premium for people with practical experience, a thorough grasp of business and ability to lead and inspire others.

The MBA, delivered by the world’s best business schools, continues to provide the solution.

About the Author

  • About Jeanette Purcell: Jeanette Purcell is Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs, the international quality standard for the MBA, providing impartial information and support to students and graduates, business schools and employers.

Jeanette Purcell

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