What Is an MBA and What Are the Best Universities for MBAs in the UK?

MBA (Master of Business Administration) degrees are some of the most popular courses in the UK and internationally. They are a great way to level up your knowledge of key business practices and allow you to take successful next steps in your career.

However, with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know what the different types of MBAs are, which universities are the best, and where you should apply to study. That’s where this guide comes in!

Using expert knowledge from The Profs’ Founder and MBA admissions expert, Richard Evans, we’ve put together this guide to MBAs and what you need to consider when applying. Richard has helped students get into MBA programmes at top universities including London Business School, Oxbridge, Imperial, LSE and Bayes Business School.

95% of our students receive offers from their first or second-choice universities. For professional, one-to-one help with your MBA application, get in touch with our experienced team today.

What is an MBA?

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a popular postgraduate qualification that allows professionals to develop the broad set of skills required to succeed in senior management-level positions. MBAs usually cover concepts, theories and strategies spanning multiple disciplines, including Economics, Marketing, Finance, Accounting, and Management.

Unlike many other postgraduate courses, most MBAs require applicants to have at least a couple of years of professional experience in the industry before applying. It is very unusual for students to study an MBA directly after their undergraduate degree. In fact, the average number of years of experience of entrants to the most competitive MBAs is 5-7 years.
Some universities also allow flexible and part-time course options to allow students to study an MBA around other commitments, such as professional work.

What is an Executive MBA (EMBA)?

Executive MBAs (also known as EMBAs) are designed for professionals with an existing wealth of experience working in business or management roles. They cover higher-level concepts and strategies and typically require applicants to have more than 10 years of experience in order to be considered.

Some universities offer EMBAs as well as regular MBAs, while others only offer one or the other. It’s important to research this before applying to a university, as the courses are very different from one another and have vastly different entry criteria.

How much does an MBA cost?

Typically, MBAs are some of the most expensive postgraduate qualifications you can undertake. MBA courses are almost always more expensive than MiMs (Master’s in Management) and in the US can regularly move into six-figure fees. MIT Sloan is currently the most expensive MBA in the world at $241,984. In the UK, the average cost of an MBA is £10,000 to £15,000, however top MBA programmes such as those at Oxford and Cambridge can cost up to £45,000.

However, the price is worth it for some professionals as they are valued highly by many employers and can lead to a better salary and an expanded network of business contacts. Typically, the cost of any postgraduate course, including an MBA, can also be paid back over a long period of time, so don’t worry if you haven’t got the money up front!

Some universities also offer scholarships and/or grants to help aspiring MBA students fund their courses. For example, Imperial offers a range of scholarships, awards and bursaries, including the Black Future Leader Award, Imperial Excellence Scholarship, and the Advisory Board Scholarship, that students from a range of backgrounds may qualify for.

What are the entry requirements for MBAs?

As well as typically requiring multiple years of professional experience, MBA courses also usually require applicants to have a good university degree (2:1 or above) in any subject. Most top business schools also require MBA applicants to take either the GMAT or GRE admissions tests.

See the table below for more details on the entry requirements of each of the top universities for MBAs in the UK. Many universities also have dedicated MBA coordinators whom you can reach out to if you are unsure whether you meet the entry requirements.

What are the GMAT and GRE?

GMAT and GRE are two common admissions tests required by postgraduate business courses, including MBAs. Both tests are designed to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills.

Most MBAs require applicants to take the GMAT or GRE in order to qualify for entry, as well as some other postgraduate Business and Management courses. The table in the section below shows whether a GMAT/GRE is required (or recommended) by each of the top universities. Always check with your chosen university directly to confirm if you are required to take the GMAT or GRE in advance.

Our team of dedicated GMAT tutors and GRE tutors can help you prepare for your admissions test and get into a top business school. 95% of our students receive offers from their first or second-choice universities, so you’ll know you’re getting the very best support. Reach out to our MBA team to find out more.

What are GMAT waivers or exemptions?

Due to the months of preparation and a range of other factors, many applicants are unable to take – or dread taking – challenging entrance exams like the GMAT and GRE. Though rare, a few universities offer GMAT waivers or exemptions for MBA applicants. Imperial has a form applicants can fill out, while London Business School also accepts requests for GMAT waivers, but only after you have submitted your CV for review: “If we believe the programme is a good fit for you, we may then give our view on your test options, however in most cases, we will need to assess a full application before making a decision on whether to grant you a GMAT/GRE waiver.”

Best universities for MBAs in the UK

The top universities for Business Management, according to the QS World University Ranking, that offer MBAs can be found in the table below alongside their respective entry requirements.

UK rankingUniversityGMAT/GRE required?Average GMAT score of successful applicantsAdditional requirements
1London Business SchoolYes, a valid GMAT or GRE score is required.708 (GMAT)
  • A one-page CV
  • Two 500-word essays answering questions on your post-MBA goals
  • A transcript of your grades from each university you have attended (if you are made an offer)
2University of CambridgeYes, a strong GMAT or GRE score is required.687 (GMAT)
  • A minimum of 2 years of work experience
  • A good 2:1 honours degree
  • A personal statement answering questions on your post-MBA career plans
3University of OxfordYes, a competitive GMAT or GRE score is required.690 (GMAT)
  • A one-page CV
  • Have at least two years of full-time work experience
  • Provide your university degree academic transcripts
  • A 250-word supporting statement
4University of WarwickYes, a well-balanced GMAT score or a valid GRE score is required.658 (GMAT)
  • A 2:1 honours degree
  • At least three years of post-graduation professional business experience
5University of ManchesterYes, a GMAT or GRE result is required.630 (GMAT)
  • Typically a first-class or 2:1 honours degree (and in the top 25% of your class)
  • Minimum of three years of post-graduation work experience with strong consistent career progression and achievement
6Imperial College LondonYes, a valid GMAT or GRE score is required.638 (GMAT)
  • A minimum of three years of continuous relevant full-time work experience after graduation
  • A good undergraduate (typically at least a 2:1) degree from a recognised university Or full membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in the UK or Ireland (ICAEW, ICAS or Chartered Accountants Ireland), Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA), or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
    Or Associateship or Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
7Bayes Business School – Formerly Cass Business School
(City, University of London)
Yes, all applicants are required to take either the GMAT or GRE.630 (GMAT)
  • A minimum of five years’ full-time work experience, gained after graduation.
  • A good university degree (2:1 or above) or appropriate professional qualification. Alternatively, at least six years’ relevant business experience if you do not have a degree.
  • A one or two-page CV
  • Application questions
8Lancaster UniversityAll successful applicants are required to provide either a
Alternatively, applicants can provide a Lancaster Admissions Essay in lieu of a GMAT score.
601 (GMAT)
  • A 2:1 honours degree (UK or equivalent) in any subject
  • A minimum of three years of professional work experience since graduation.
  • Your CV
  • A detailed personal statement (minimum 500 words)
9University of BathYou do not need a GMAT score to apply to Bath’s MBA, but it may help you stand out and will be taken into account if submitted.610 (GMAT)
  • At least three years of full-time, post-graduation work experience with evidence of career progression
  • A 2:1 or above undergraduate degree or international equivalent. Bath may also consider candidates who don’t hold a degree but do have considerable work experience
10University of LeedsNot requiredN/A
  • At least three years’ work experience, including appropriate management experience and evidence of career progression
  • A good Bachelor’s degree (2:1 or above) or an acceptable professional qualification

Does LSE offer an MBA?

No, LSE does not offer an MBA. Instead, it offers a prestigious Global Executive MBA (EMBA) in partnership with NYU Stern and HEC Paris (known together as Trium). LSE itself also offers an MSc Management course as well as a 2-year Global MiM (Master’s in Management). Read our guide to the best universities for Business and Management for more information on what courses are offered by LSE.

How can we help?

The Profs’ admissions consultants are true experts in helping students get onto the best university courses in the UK. Our network contains dedicated Business and Management tutors who can help you prepare for everything from the GRE and GMAT to the most demanding business school interviews at the likes of London Business School, Imperial and LSE. Get in touch with our team for support with your MBA application today.

FAQs

What is the difference between an MBA and other postgraduate degrees?

There are several differences between MBA (Master of Business Administration) programmes and other postgraduate degrees, such as MiMs (Masters in Management).

Firstly, MBAs usually require students to have 3-5 years of work experience as a minimum. MiMs and other business-related Master’s degrees, in contrast, usually require students to have a maximum of 2 years’ experience. In addition, MBAs almost always require applicants to take a test (GMAT or GRE) while this is less common among other types of Master’s.
Typically, MBAs are also more competitive than other management-focused postgraduate courses. MBAs are also more focused towards international candidates in the UK.
MBA courses are almost always more expensive than MiMs and in the US can regularly move into 6 figure fees. MIT Sloan is currently the most expensive MBA ($241,984).

Is an MBA worth it?

Although MBAs are among the most expensive postgraduate courses, having one on your CV can be highly valuable. Not only can an MBA help you learn the most effective and up-to-date management strategies, but it also provides invaluable links to top industry experts. An MBA from a top business school can also help you stand out from other applicants to competitive jobs and companies. In a poll by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the global association of business schools, 82% of respondents said an MBA increased their earning power and around 70% of recent full-time MBA graduates said they could not have got their jobs without their degrees.

Is the IELTS required for MBAs in the UK?

If you’re applying for an MBA in the UK, it is common for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) to be a requirement. Typically for UK business schools, an IELTS score of at least 6.0-6.5 will be required.

What job can I get with an MBA?

An MBA can give you access to management-level roles in a range of industries all over the world, including:

  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Consulting
  • Technology
  • Transport
  • Non-Profit
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • And more.

An MBA is often used as a way to accelerate your existing career, but it can also be a way to pivot your career into a different sector as well.