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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor