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Choosing what to study

What's an MBA?

Everything you need to know about the Master's of Business Administration, the world's most popular professional degree programme.

Students in an MBA class


  1. What does an MBA involve?

  2. What are MBA accreditations?

  3. Why do an MBA?

  4. How well are women represented in MBAs?

  5. How much does an MBA cost?

  6. How do you choose an MBA?

  7. What’s the MBA application process?

What does an MBA involve?

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate qualification that teaches you key business practices. Accredited MBA courses and business schools prepare you for senior management roles in business by exposing you to all areas of business including accounting, finance, marketing and human resources.

Unlike other postgraduate courses (which provide further specialisation in a specific field), an MBA degree is interdisciplinary, drawing from the fields of psychology, sociology, economics, accounting and finance.

The MBA gave me a leg up. I learned so much – strategy, financial skills and marketing. It provided a great overview of so many different disciplines.

Helen, MBA student

What to expect from an MBA course

You can expect at least one major project with a real 'client' (25,000 words is common), company visits, exchange programmes and other real-life simulations. Most programmes have an entry requirement of 3–5 years of management-related experience before enrolment.

MBAs are often available as distance-learning, part-time and full-time programmes, or as double qualifications that allow you to spend time in more than one place.

What are MBA accreditations?

An MBA involves a considerable commitment of time and money. Because of the competitive marketplace of MBA providers, it's important for prospective MBA students to consider the independent accreditations awarded, as well as the programmes. This will show whether courses meet international standards.

Why do an MBA?

  • High earning potential – according to AMBA, MBA graduates earn over £80,000 on average
  • Career development – an MBA can open up new avenues and give you new (and often transferable) workplace skills
  • Networking opportunities – from tutors to guest speakers to your fellow students, you’ll likely get to meet some great business minds

How well are women represented in MBAs?

There are more women doing MBAs today but there’s still a disparity between how much they earn after qualifying compared to men.

According to AMBA, the proportion of women enrolling at their accredited MBA programmes globally is rising. The latest AMBA Application and Enrolment Report found that 38% of those who enrolled in 2018 were women, compared to 32% in 2013.

Despite this positive shift, the research states there’s still further to go to reach gender parity. It suggests more effort needs to be made to encourage and support women studying MBAs.

Person on laptop choosing MBA options

How much does an MBA cost?

Fees for many MBAs are expensive (£18,000+ is common for AMBA-accredited schools). But you tend to get what you pay for in terms of career progression, salary, student support, knowledge and networks.

How do you choose an MBA?

The best place to start is the Association of MBAs (AMBA), which accredits over 150 UK and global programmes. Other global business school accreditation bodies are AACSB (in the US) and EQUIS (in Europe).

Go to open days at business schools, meet with current students and alumni and find out which school is the best fit for you. Understand the commitment that you will be making and decide which type of course will work for you.

Mark, MBA student

What’s the MBA application process?

To get a place on an accredited MBA course, you’ll have to go through a fairly rigorous application process. Business schools generally ask for:

  • An undergraduate degree – this doesn’t necessarily have to be in a business-related subject
  • Professional work experience – it’s rare for a school to accept a candidate immediately after they’ve completed their undergraduate degree
  • Admissions essays – these may be in the style of a personal statement, or you may be asked to respond to a specific statement
  • A Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) – this assesses your analytical, quantitative, writing and verbal skills

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