Master classes

Want an MBA? There are many routes, writes Philip Schofield production

The first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was issued at the Harvard Business School in 1910. For the next half-century the MBA remained confined to North America, but growing numbers of would- be general managers from around the world made the two-year pilgrimage to obtain what had become a coveted qualification.

Europe's first MBA course was introduced at University College Dublin in 1964, followed by the London and Manchester business schools a year later. The development of the European Union was a catalyst for the setting up of business schools in Western Europe, which subsequently started to award their own MBAs. MBA programmes have since spread through East Europe, Asia and Australasia.

Thousands of managers, however, prefer to study for an MBA abroad, and Britain is the top provider although many Britons continue to study in the USA.

Are there any advantages in taking an MBA overseas? Certainly the increasing globalisation of business makes international experience valuable for many managers. Many Asian managers also study at British and US business schools because some of their local schools have yet to achieve an equivalent standard.

British managers who expect to do business in the US, or work for American- owned companies, will find an American MBA invaluable in introducing them to the US business culture. Moreover, an MBA from a top US school carries far greater credibility in business circles there than one from elsewhere. Executives doing business in Asia will also find American MBAs the most highly rated. Only the European Institute of Business Administration (Insead) in Fontainebleau and the London Business School are rated among the top 10 by Asian businessmen.

However, there is a down side to most American MBAs. The American MBA was designed as a two-year academic programme for recent graduates. This still applies to most full-time programmes. They aim to educate rather than develop managers. Although many claim to be international, they are primarily designed to teach the future managers of US companies while giving them a global perspective.

On average, European MBA students are five years older and have several years' management experience. All reputable European business schools expect students to have such experience. This enables then to make more use of seminars, workshops and discussion, which draws on that experience. They also make greater use of action learning.

Action learning is concerned with studying real-life work problems. Small teams work on organisation-based projects with specific learning objectives. Solving real-life problems and learning go together. Instead of academic staff providing case studies and simulations, students bring their own case studies from sponsoring employers.

European programmes are usually shorter than those in North America. One-year full-time courses have become the norm in Britain. Only London (21 months) and Manchester (18 months) offer longer courses. Other European MBAs vary from 10 months (Insead) to two years (Esade in Barcelona).

Relatively few managers in mid-career can leave their job for a year or more. Consequently most British MBA students now study on part-time courses or by distance learning.

American MBAs take longer and are more costly, especially taking living costs and fares into account. However, the Fulbright Commission has just started co-sponsoring up to 10 British MBA students a year at US business schools. (Prospective students should write to the commission in early summer at 62 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS, or visit its stand at the MBA Fair in London's Business Design Centre on 29-30 January).

Those with solely domestic interests are probably best off studying in the UK. Managers who expect to work in mainland Europe could benefit from studying there. Programmes tend to be the most international of all, although the emphasis is usually on the European Union states. Some schools, like Insead and the London Business School, have a multinational faculty and student body where no single culture dominates.

Other business schools operate in several centres. For example, the Paris- based European School of Management (EAP) also has a presence in Berlin, Madrid and Oxford. Some schools have formed partnerships that offer multi- centre MBAs. Strathclyde students can, for example, do six months' study in Glasgow and another six months with Groupe ESC Toulouse working in French.

A unique new part-time programme for senior managers is now being run by Lancaster Business School, Insead, Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, the Indian School of Management in Bangalore, and McGill University in Montreal. The programme includes two weeks' study at each school.

Although American MBAs are currently highly regarded in Asia, they give little feeling for the local business culture. Those wishing to do business in Asia and on the Pacific Rim would do better to study at one of the excellent business schools in Australia or New Zealand which now see this region as home territory. There are other business schools in the region, but they have yet to establish a world-class reputation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS)

£20000 - £30000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition