Overwhelmed by so many business schools worldwide and the diversity of MBA degrees? Sceptical about which one you should choose because you’re not sure which suits your goals, schedule, and professional or personal commitments?
Finding the perfect MBA degree is a tricky business but just consider it the first step in developing valuable managerial skills, such as analytical thinking and complex problem-solving.
To give you a small hint, here are the most common ways to study a Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme at top business schools abroad: full-time MBAs, part-time MBAs, distance-learning or online MBAs, EMBAs, joint MBAs and more.
So, what are the main ways to study an MBA degree, in detail?
1. Full-time or part-time MBAs
When it comes to traditional MBA programmes, you can either choose a full-time or a part-time format. Full-time MBAs take between 1-2 years to complete. A full-time MBA at a top business school is quite intense, meaning the class schedule will hardly allow you to take a job.
Part-time MBAs usually take twice the time of a full-time MBA to complete, but you can find several part-time accelerated MBAs that allow you to finish the course in one year and a half. During a part-time MBA degree, you can successfully combine study and work, as classes take place in the evening and during weekends.
Most MBA courses are dedicated to students with at least one or two years of work experience, although some business schools will also accept students with no professional experience.
2. Blended distance learning MBAs
A distance learning MBA often uses a blended format, meaning you will attend online classes, but you will also have to be present on campus for lectures or meetings. Campus attendance is usually required during weekends, and they are the perfect occasion to meet your classmates and professors, exchange ideas and discuss more freely and open about any topic that can’t be covered completely in an online format.
The online part of a distance learning MBA covers video conference sessions, forum discussions, webinars and online tests and exams.
3. Fully online MBAs
Some Masters of Business Administration programmes are offered fully online. Specifically targeted at working professionals or students who simply don’t have the time to attend classes on-campus, not even in a distance learning scheme, online MBA degrees answer the current trends and needs in education.
Offering a flexible schedule and learning environment, and most times, even lower tuition, online MBAs are preferred by an increasing number of students. Additionally, an online MBA degree encourages students to become independent learners and develop time and project management skills.
And no worries! Employers acknowledge online MBAs and traditional MBAs equally.
4. Executive MBAs (EMBA)
Executive Masters of Business Administration are designed for working professionals with five to ten years of work experience, and most commonly, for students with a mid or top-level management background. EMBAs are delivered in a part-time format and can be completed in one or two years, depending on the specialisation.
Discover more about the differences between MBAs and EMBAs.
5. Joint MBAs
A joint MBA is a degree offered by two or more partner universities. Students who enrol in a joint MBA will follow one curriculum, which is divided into courses given by professors from different academic institutions.
Enrolling in a joint MBA means you’ll have to juggle with a lot of workloads and travels, but you will also develop a large and diverse network of professional connections and experience different business perspectives.
In a joint MBA, you attend lectures and conferences, participate in workshops or even engage in internships at regional and international companies. Joint MBAs can be delivered by 2-6 partner institutions.
Check out the benefits of a joint Master's degree.
6. Double Degree MBAs
Unlike a joint MBA, which is a single degree, a dual or double MBA means you will take on two study programmes at the same time. These programmes can be offered at the same institution or by two different universities.
A dual MBA is more difficult due to the amount of effort required to complete the assignments for two degrees. If you add in the fact that most people who pursue an MBA already have a career, it’s easy to understand why double MBA degrees aren’t for everybody. They represent a huge commitment, and you’ll need to plan things well if you want to cope with the academic demands.
Dual MBA degrees are especially popular in the United States.
7. Modular EMBAs
A modular EMBA degree is similar to a part-time MBA, except for the fact that you won’t attend classes in the weekend; instead, you will have to join lectures, seminars and practical courses for one or two weeks once every few months.
Overall, you will complete a modular EMBA in one or two years and some cover exchange periods of study, so you might travel and gain different business knowledge.
During one or two weeks, you will complete a module, a certain topic or specialisation of your choice; it can be Finance, Accounting, Marketing, etc.
MBA rankings offer good insights into the best MBAs
The MBA or the business school rankings are another good tool to assist you in making the best decision possible. Specialised sources like Financial Times or QS World University Rankings provide the latest rankings based on the MBA employers’ opinion and these can help you create your own ranking according to the criteria relevant to you.
Check MBA programmes offered by some of the best business schools:
- IE Business School
- Nottingham Trent University Online
- Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
- WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
- Geneva Business School (GBS)
- University of Birmingham Online
Making sure your MBA is accredited
The criterion of accreditation is a significant element when choosing an MBA, especially in terms of the credibility of the business school and the quality of the course it offers.
The three most respected accrediting bodies are:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
- The Association of MBAs (AMBA)
Accreditation from any of these three organisations confers a premium status to a business school.
Different ways to study an MBA can mean different admission requirements
The admission procedure for an MBA can be quite time-consuming, demanding and complicated and thus, has to be carefully prepared. Usually composed of several stages, it always requires an average Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) of 500 or a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) of 300 and an English Language Proficiency Test (most commonly IELTS).
Check the common admission requirements in European business schools.
Consider other international destinations for an MBA degree