NEWS | A to Z Guide to Business Education

Published On: Friday, 1st Jul 2022


There are many things to research and options to consider before choosing how and where to study for your MBA. Our MBA jargon buster explains some of the more common terms you may have come across already and includes links to helpful articles to help you learn more.

Admissions Essay: The Pre-MBA essay is your chance to sell the person behind your CV. It should pull all parts of your business school application together and create a comprehensive picture of who you are, what you have done, and what you can offer. Here is an excellent roundup of the best MBA essay tips.

Business Schools: Business schools are high-level educational institutions that teach students a range of business skills including strategy, management, finance and marketing. Featuring over 250 business schools, this year’s full-time MBA rankings provides an extensive list of the best places to study an MBA. You can access the QS Global World University MBA rankings 2021 here.

Coursework: All schools provide a foundation of skills in finance, accounting, strategy and strategic management, leadership and teamwork, marketing, economics, operations, business law and business ethics. The content and method of teaching will vary from school to school, so it’s important to consider this when choosing. Schools use a diversity of teaching methods including submitted coursework, exams, group assignments and presentations (all schools use presentations for the development of key communications skills). In addition to the core business administration subjects, business schools also offer different levels of either specialisation or elective courses.

Diversity: Many students say that working alongside students with widely differing backgrounds from across the world is one of the major benefits of doing an MBA at one of the top international business schools. This diversity is not only about students having interesting cultural differences but about having divergent careers and world views. Students bring to the classroom very different ways of looking at problems. Seeing challenges through many different lenses helps students realise that there are multiple ways of solving a problem.

Entrepreneurship: An MBA in Entrepreneurship is a traditional MBA programme with a concentration in entrepreneurship. To earn this degree, you will take a full MBA course load, of which your non-core courses will concentrate on topics related to entrepreneurship, such as venture capital and small business management. The course is designed to prepare graduates to start their own business, knowing everything from how to write a real-world business plan, to how to manage a business at the international level.

Executive MBAs: An executive MBA programme, also known as an EMBA programme, is mostly designed for students who are further along in their careers and wish to continue working full-time while in business school. While a conventional MBA may prepare someone to enter a management career or change career path, an EMBA is intended to teach a current leader how to be a more effective manager.

Funding: Given the high cost of a full-time MBA (especially at the top international business schools), it is no surprise that securing MBA funding is a priority for many prospective students. Students are extremely resourceful in financing their MBAs. Many will have been thinking about their MBA for a while and will have saved funds while working, others will seek loans or receive assistance from their family. In addition to private funds, there is financial support by way of grants and scholarships from different sources to help with tuition fees and living costs. Read our article on MBA funding options.

Full-time MBAs: The full-time MBA is the traditional MBA degree format; the vast majority of the world’s top business schools offer this mode of MBA education. Depending on which school you choose, a full-time MBA will be either 1 or 2 years (though we have heard of some courses being completed in 10 months! In terms of the popularity of one and two-year courses, research by in 2014 reported that a majority of applicants in the US and Canada (58%) prefer the two-year format and a majority of those in Europe (60%) prefer the one-year version. Which you choose will depend on your circumstances and career goals.

GMAT™ (Graduate Management Admissions Test): The GMAT exam is the first and only standardised exam specifically designed for admission to graduate business and management programmes. It sets the standard to predict your academic performance in today's graduate management programmes and most importantly, schools trust the exam. You can assess yourself against the GMAT Mini Quiz.

Graduation Ceremony: A celebration of the achievement of completing your MBA degree, when you don the school’s cap (or mortarboard) and gown and attend a prestigious ceremony where you are presented with your degree scroll. Take a peek at Wharton Business Schools Class of 2022 Graduation video to get a flavour of what’s to come for your future!

Hiring in the UK: In the Business Statistics Briefing Paper of July 2020, it was stated that the UK was currently home to almost 6 million private sector business organisations. With this huge market available, finding a job after MBA should be straightforward (though of course, the COVID pandemic will have had an impact on hiring). Universities offering MBAs in the UK may not provide direct internships or placement services, but they will have career advisors and departments to help students with their career direction.

Internships: Learners typically complete internships in roles that are best aligned with their specialisation. Interns usually start with entry-level work but usually progress to more challenging tasks rapidly. In some cases, businesses take MBA interns as a precursor to offering full-time jobs to those who shine during the placement. Full-time MBA programmes often require students to complete an internship in the summer between their first and second year of study. Full-time MBA internships take 10-12 weeks to complete.

Intensity: Most students who study at the top international business schools report that the pace of work is intense and involves long hours, but that they thrive in this environment. There is a wide global selection of MBA programme options available, not just in terms of curricula, electives, and location, but also in length, delivery and intensity. It is important to research the different options thoroughly and select a programme that matches your learning style. Our article MBA Expectations Versus Reality gives some insights into the business school experience.

Journey: It is best to think about an MBA programme as the start of an exciting journey rather than the final destination. The MBA will introduce you to many facets of business and you will gain a foundation that enables you to confidently delve deeper into a wide range of subjects required for your work. With this solid business education framework, it will be easier to understand business issues and explore them at a deeper level and, most importantly, communicate with the most senior level management in more commercial language.

Knowledge Transfer: After graduation, students will have learnt many skills that are useful across diverse types of companies. This makes those with an MBA valuable employees in terms of knowledge transfer, bringing many benefits, including improved company culture, improved quality of service, faster business processes, increased efficiency, and better use of business technology and resources. This article, Why Do Employers Prefer MBA Graduates highlights why MBA graduates a so highly valued.

Leadership: Leadership is covered in MBA courses, but it is also possible to select a course that is dedicated to this topic. Developing leadership skills is important for a successful business career, whether you are the CEO or a leader of a team. There are different styles of leadership, and the MBA will provide you with insight and grounding in leadership strategies and techniques to help your career flourish. Also, by learning how to engage with and listen effectively to a diverse range of students, you will enhance your leadership skills.

MSc in Management: MBAs are not the only way to acquire an excellent business education. There is also the option of studying for a variety of Masters of Science in Management. In terms of content, they are similar to the MBA degree as they contains general management courses. In general, the MSc degree is seen to be more theory-oriented with a younger audience, and some programmes do focus on a specific skill set development for managers, while the MBA degree can be more practice-oriented and financially focused. Which you choose depends on your preferences and personal circumstances, but a good starting point is this article.

Mentoring: Run by many business schools, a mentorship programme is designed to pair MBA students with senior industry executive mentors for networking and relationship building. MBA mentees will proactively interact with seasoned mentors who provide guidance and share their industry knowledge and leadership experiences to support students' personal and professional development.

Networking: For MBA students and graduates, networking is an especially important job-search tool; surveys show that 50% to 60% of MBA graduates have found a job by networking. Building reciprocal relationships with other students and maintaining these relationships post-graduation is incredibly valuable, both on a personal and professional level. Former classmates and alumni will become lifelong friends and helpful ‘advisors’ on all manner of career challenges, opportunities and decisions that will arise in the future.

Online MBAs: Typically, online MBA programmes take two years to complete but many schools/universities also offer accelerated timelines, where students can graduate in 12-18 months. Online MBA programmes are popular with students who want to study part-time whilst working full-time.

Overseas Experience: You can choose to pursue your MBA in a school that is based overseas, or a school that offers exchange programmes or has a campus in multiple countries. Graduates from those programmes routinely state they learnt as much from living and operating in the foreign environment as they did from the actual course, so it can be an effective way to maximise the value of your MBA experience.

Part-time MBAs: For those who are unable or prefer not to pay fees in advance for a full-time MBA course, a part-time MBA, while continuing to work, is an attractive option. Nowadays many institutions offer excellent part-time MBA courses which cover a diversity of business topics and provide you with an MBA degree, often without the intensity and pressure of learning associated with the full-time programmes.

Qualities: The five key qualities of successful MBA applications according to are:

  1. A leadership history
  2. Displaying quantitative competency
  3. Exhibiting excellent communication skills
  4. Set realistic post-MBA career plans
  5. Get enthusiastic recommenders

Consider how you can evidence these qualities when writing your MBA essay and filling out the application form.

Recruiters/Recruitment: If you are planning to do a full-time MBA programme, you are highly likely to be seeking a different career after you graduate, as opposed to returning to your previous employer (though of course, some graduates do return to their employer, especially if their MBA has been sponsored by them). When you start your job search, you may choose to use your network of contacts and independent recruiters to help secure a new position but remember that you will also have the might of the business school’s recruitment system at your disposal. Many schools have sophisticated recruitment systems which include blue-chip companies visiting the schools to showcase their opportunities and interview candidates.

Return to Employer After MBA: Returning to a former employer post-MBA is certainly an option if the organisation can offer a position that makes the most of the graduate’s new skills and experience and is something worth examining closely before you embark on your MBA. Some employers will invest in their highfliers by sponsoring the cost of the MBA and in such circumstances, they are most likely to make the sponsorship contingent on you returning to the organisations. More typically, freshly qualified MBA graduates from the top schools use their newly acquired skills to widen their horizons by choosing challenging new careers where they can be effective within their organisations and in wider society. Here is an article on one of our Sainsbury Management Fellows whose MBA was sponsored by her employer and it allowed her to return to Bain & Company and take up a strategic role.

Scholarships: MBA scholarships make it possible for students to pursue a degree and offset some or all of the cost of their MBA. Removing or reducing the burden of the cost of the MBA means graduates have more freedom to choose their next role because repaying the cost of a full MBA is not a pressing priority. Read our article on funding an MBA for ideas of where to seek funding/scholarships.

Soft skills: According to research, the skills that employers look for the most in MBA graduates are interpersonal skills: communication, self-awareness, and teamwork. They are also known as soft skills. Employers have said book smarts are not enough to prepare people for a fast-changing and complex work environment. You can read about how an MBA will increase your soft skills here.

Time in the Classroom: The amount of time you spend in the classroom will depend on the type of programme in which you enrol. If you choose a traditional, full-time, two-year MBA programme you may average as little as two or three hours a day in school. If you choose a more intensive, accelerated MBA programme, you may spend as many as six hours a day in class. Part-time MBA programmes require more limited attendance.

Unleash your Potential: Studying for an MBA develops innovative thinking and problem-solving in groups. Students will collaborate with entrepreneurial leaders in small class sizes, within a diverse international student body and have access to faculty members who are leaders in their field. Throughout their MBA journey, students will gain access to networking opportunities, business consulting projects and the chance to study overseas.

Valuable Experience: Studying an MBA brings you into contact with students with broad and diverse professional and personal experiences and this will help you to analyse problems through different lenses, as will your experience add value to your classmates’ learning. This way of learning will enrich your MBA experience and give you new perspectives to take into your new job/career. Furthermore, the valuable experiences gained through studying for an MBA leads to exciting new opportunities and considerably higher salaries.

Women in Business: Data from the Forté Foundation, which improves women's access to business education, shows that 95% of MBA female graduates said the programme improved their confidence, which is crucial for success in the workplace. The study also found that MBAs increase earning potential by up to 65% over five years, a big step forward towards women achieving equal pay to their male counterparts.

Xenophiles: The diversity of the MBA courses tends to appeal to people who are especially interested in foreign cultures, languages, and people. This usually develops through education and research of other cultures, particularly useful for those looking to work overseas in the future or for a global company.

Yourself: "Tell Me Something About Yourself." is the most common opening question across all types of interviews, including MBA interviews. As such, it is a crucial question to understand, if you are to have a successful MBA interview. You can read good advice on how to prepare for this question here.

Zest: Zest is a good word to consider when thinking about applying to business school. It means approaching a situation, or life in general, with excitement and energy. People who are high in zest are excited to get up in the morning, and they live their lives like an adventure. Zest is a dynamic strength that is related to physical and psychological wellness. If you have zest, you will not approach tasks or activities half-heartedly – great qualities for a future MBA student.

The Sainsbury Management Fellows MBA Scholarship is open to professional working engineers – each year £50,000 is awarded to ten engineers with leadership potential. Find out how to apply.

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