Careers in the business and management field are characterised by high starting salaries, rapid progression and early responsibility. A Masters degree in a related subject can open up all kinds of opportunities in a variety of sectors, such as accountancy, hospitality, IT, marketing, recruitment and retail.
Deciding where to study is never easy and with so many different options how do you identify the best business school in the UK?
Best universities for business and management
UK institutions consistently feature in prominent positions in university league tables such as those compiled by The Complete University Guide, the Guardian, the Financial Times and QS Top Universities. To give you an idea of the best universities depending on your study interests, these rankings are often arranged by subject.
Institutions that regularly appear in the top ten of 2023 business school rankings include:
- Imperial College Business School
- Lancaster University, Management School
- London Business School
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
- Loughborough University, School of Business and Economics
- Kings College London, Kings Business School
- University of Bath, School of Management
- University of Cambridge, Judge Business School
- University College London (UCL), UCL School of Management
- University of Exeter Business School
- University of Glasgow, Adam Smith Business School
- University of Leeds Business School
- University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School
- University of Oxford, Saïd Business School
- University of St Andrews, School of Management
- University of Warwick, Warwick Business School (WBS).
Business and management courses
These top institutions offer a variety of programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. As well as the standard accounting, economics, finance and management courses, you can also study more specific Masters programmes, such as:
- MSc Entrepreneurship and Management at University of Bath School of Management
- MSc Business Psychology at Manchester Alliance Business School
- International Business MLitt at University of St Andrews School of Management
- MSc Business Analytics at University of Warwick Business School
- MSc Economics and Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School
- MSc Global Strategy and International Management at University of Leeds Business School.
Search postgraduate courses in business and management studies.
The majority of business courses are available to study on both a full and part-time basis, enabling you to tailor your timetable around work or family commitments. Each business school is responsible for administering its own scholarships and bursaries, so check what financial help is available.
Postgraduate loans can also help to lessen the financial burden. In 2023/24, you can borrow up to £12,167 to help towards tuition fees.
If you already have a job, consider employer sponsorship. Some business employers may be prepared to foot the bill for your course if it benefits the company in some way. However, you’ll probably have to sign an agreement tying you to the organisation for a certain length of time once your programme is complete. Explore more postgraduate funding options.
As well as Bachelors and Masters degrees, business schools also offer the Master of Business Administration (MBA). An MBA is an advanced postgraduate qualification, which can be studied at general, executive and specialist level. An MBA is highly valued by business employers and can lead to promotion and increased salaries.
However, MBA courses are expensive and the cost of programmes varies considerably depending on where you study. Make sure you research the different courses on offer before committing to a programme. Bear in mind that MBA courses usually have ranking’s of their own so if you’re looking for top ranked MBA courses check those out. Learn more about the best MBA programmes in the UK.
How to choose a business school
Studying for a postgraduate qualification requires a huge investment of time, effort and money, so it’s essential you make the right choice.
You’ve done some initial research and now have a list of top-rated institutions, but how do you narrow down your options? First, decide on a course and list all the institutions that provide it. To help you reach a final decision, consider:
- Location – would you prefer to study close to home or further afield? In a city or somewhere a little quieter? You also need to consider the living costs at different universities, and how you’ll cover them.
- Reputation – to discover more about an institution’s reputation speak to alumni, look at rankings and find out if the university has industry accreditation. Research its academic community. Is the faculty diverse? Are lecturers considered leaders in the business field? Does the faculty have industry connections? Does the faculty have global experience and business knowledge? Read more about universities and departments.
- Teaching methods – are class sizes big or small? Are classes flexible enough to allow you to meet other commitments? Is the programme curriculum as broadly or narrowly focused as you’d like? Will you have access to one-on-one time with a mentor? Will you have the opportunity to complete an industry placement? What are the assessment methods?
- Alumni – what is the school’s employment record like? Take a look at alumni networks to find out what past students are doing. What jobs, sectors and countries do they work in? Do they work in prestigious roles? Do any work for high-profile organisations? Also check out the reputation of the school’s careers service. How long after graduation is help and advice available?
To find out as much as possible about an institution, research and read through their promotional material including prospectuses, websites and social media channels. It’s also crucial to visit schools and, if possible, sit in on classes to get a real feel of the course. Attend open days and events such as study fairs to talk to admissions tutors, course leaders and current students and graduates.
It’s important to remember that while gaining a business degree from a prestigious university might look impressive on your CV, it’s in no way a guarantee of employment. Weigh up all the pros and cons of an institution before deciding on the right one for you.
How to apply
To apply for a course at most UK business schools you’ll complete an online application form. You’ll need to create an account on the university website, answer set questions and submit supporting documentation. Unlike undergraduate courses, you’ll submit your application directly to the university, so make sure that you’re aware of application dates and deadlines (as these can vary slightly) to give yourself plenty of time to complete it to the best of your ability.
The documents that you need to submit include academic transcripts and degree certificates, two academic references and a personal statement (sometimes called a statement of purpose). Some business schools may also ask you to submit samples of your work, a CV and a cover letter.
Upon completion you’ll need to pay an application fee. Institutions set their own fees so costs differ, but they’re typically in the region of £50-£60. Once your application is processed you’ll receive an offer of a place, or may in some instances be invited to attend a postgraduate interview. In order to secure your offer of a place you’ll need to pay a course deposit.
Where is the Best UK University for Business?
The best UK university for business largely depends on your specific goals, interests, and priorities. However, some institutions consistently rank high in business-related programs, including:
- London Business School (LBS): LBS is renowned for its global perspective, rigorous curriculum, and a strong network of alumni. It frequently ranks among the top business schools in the world.
- University of Oxford, Saïd Business School: Known for its prestigious reputation and excellent faculty, Oxford offers a top-notch MBA program.
- University of Cambridge, Judge Business School: Cambridge is equally prestigious, offering a diverse, collaborative environment for MBA students.
- Imperial College Business School: Imperial is highly regarded for its STEM-focused MBA programs and strong connections with industry.
- Cass Business School, City, University of London: Cass offers a range of MBA options and boasts strong connections with the financial and business sectors.
Which Ranking is Best for MBA in the UK?
When evaluating rankings for MBA programs in the UK, consider those from authoritative sources such as:
- Financial Times (FT) Global MBA Rankings: This is one of the most respected sources for assessing MBA programs worldwide, including in the UK.
- QS World University Rankings: QS provides comprehensive rankings for universities and business schools, offering valuable insights into the reputation of UK institutions.
- The Economist: The Economist’s MBA rankings provide a different perspective on MBA programs, focusing on factors like career opportunities and diversity.
How Do I Choose a Business School in the UK?
To make the right choice for your MBA program, consider the following factors:
- Program Specialization: Look for universities that offer MBA programs aligned with your career goals, whether that’s finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, or other areas.
- Location: Consider where you’d like to live and work after graduation. London offers diverse opportunities, but other cities have their unique strengths.
- Faculty and Research: Investigate the faculty’s expertise and the school’s research activities. High-quality faculty often translate into a better learning experience.
- Internship and Networking Opportunities: Evaluate the school’s connections with local and global businesses, as these can significantly impact your post-graduation opportunities.
- Tuition and Scholarships: Ensure the tuition aligns with your budget and explore scholarship options to alleviate the financial burden.
How Do I Get into Top Business Schools in the UK?
To get into top business schools in the UK, focus on the following:
- Strong Academic Record: Most schools require a strong undergraduate GPA. Aim for a minimum of 3.0, but higher scores improve your chances.
- Work Experience: Gain relevant work experience. Many top MBA programs prefer applicants with at least two to five years of experience.
- GMAT/GRE Scores: Prepare for and excel in the GMAT or GRE exams, as these scores are important admissions criteria.
- Compelling Essays and Recommendations: Craft persuasive essays and secure strong letters of recommendation that showcase your qualifications.
- Interview Preparation: Prepare for interviews, as some schools may require an interview as part of the application process.
What GPA Do You Need for an MBA in the UK?
While GPA requirements vary between universities and programs, it’s generally recommended to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Some competitive programs may require a GPA of 3.5 or more.
Which MBA is Most in Demand in the UK?
MBA specializations that are currently in demand in the UK include:
- Technology Management: With the growth of tech companies and startups, expertise in technology management is highly sought after.
- Finance: The UK is a major financial hub, and financial expertise is always in demand.
- Sustainability and Environmental Management: As environmental concerns grow, there’s a demand for professionals with expertise in sustainability.
Is It Better to Study Business in the UK or US?
The choice between studying business in the UK or the US depends on your career goals and personal preferences. Both countries offer prestigious institutions and a diverse range of programs. Consider factors like program specializations, location, and post-graduation work opportunities to make an informed decision.
Which Business School is Easiest to Get Into?
Easier admission often depends on the specific MBA program and your qualifications. Some part-time or online MBA programs may have less stringent requirements than full-time programs at top-tier universities. However, remember that easier admission doesn’t always equate to the best quality education.
How Many Years Does It Take to Study Business in the UK?
The duration of an MBA program in the UK typically ranges from one to two years. Full-time programs are usually one year, while part-time or executive programs may extend to two years, allowing students to continue working while studying.
In conclusion, selecting the best UK university for your MBA involves thorough research, considering your academic and career goals, and evaluating factors like location, faculty, and reputation. Make an informed decision based on your unique needs and aspirations, and take the necessary steps to meet the admission criteria of your chosen institution.