Everything you need to know about an MBA at Business Schools in Europe

By Jennifer Weingarten -

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is very well regarded nowadays by employers and sought out by employees. Maybe you are among the ones considering an MBA degree but how much do you know about MBA programmes?

What is a MBA?

An MBA is by definition a general management degree designed to educate students in areas such as finances, human resources, marketing, strategy and operations management. What sets MBAs apart from regular Master programmes is the characteristic of peer-to-peer education involving successful business people and the networking among the students from diverse backgrounds. The MBA aims at a well-rounded business graduate, and not an expert in just one single aspect.

View and compare 1,144 MBA programmes in Europe

When and why should you do an MBA?

Studying an MBA has different rationale than opting for a regular Master. A significant difference is the fact that the Business Schools require work experience from the MBA applicants. This work experience ranges from two to up to seven years for the top Business Schools in Europe.

Graduating from one of the best MBA universities in Europe can be a great advantage when you want to:

  • advance your already existing career
  • change your career or switch industries
  • obtain a leadership position
  • want to deepen your passion about business.

MastersPortal can help you to search for the best Business School and the best MBA in Europe for you. The top Business Schools in the UK might be the most popular but also countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Norway or Finland can be the right place for your MBA and offer you great opportunities. Find out more about MBAs in Europe below.

What types of MBAs are there?

The decision of following an MBA becomes very complex when considering all the different types and forms in which the best Business Schools offer them.

  • The Full time MBA degree provides the student with a detailed view and understanding of how business works. The students attend all the courses, sessions, exams and networking events on campus and it implies interrupting work for the duration of the MBA studies. The full time MBA can be one or two years. The one year MBA is very intense, but it requires a smaller time and financial investment and a shorter interruption of work. The two year MBA enables much more reflection, consideration, better networking and very often an assisted internship in the summer between the two study years, which can of course lead to a job offer, later.
  • The executive MBA programmes are a sub-type of the full time form of MBA and it can be either one or two years. It is designed to meet the education requirements of the upper management level. The prospective student is expected to have at least five years of work experience and the contribution of the student to the program is also an important decision factor for the admission.
  • The part time MBA degree is much more of a challenge as it tests the students ability to successfully combine two focus areas, job and MBA, out of which at least the latter one is very demanding. With courses on campus in the afternoon, evenings or weekends, this format allows the student to keep his/her job, reducing the financial and security challenge of the full time MBA. Many companies appreciate the part time MBA even more than a full time one as it demonstrated the above mentioned ability to juggle and maintain the balance between the different responsibilities and requirements.
  • Distance learning MBA programmes are characterized by online courses and on campus exams and events while online MBAs(also known as e-learning MBA or blended learning MBA) have all their activity exclusively online and can be followed from anywhere in the world, without ever visiting the university. Both types have a longer duration of the program than the traditional full and part time MBAs. They are also not as well regarded by the employers as the traditional forms, but the ones offered by the top Business Schools in Europe are just as demanding with high admission requirements and workload as conventional programmes. These two forms have been however confronted with heavy press criticism, having been accused of lack of quality and wrong, profit oriented focus. This leads us to the next important issue about MBAs and the Business Schools providing them, the MBA accreditation. The accreditation is one of the best ways of ensuring you choose the best MBA and avoid any mall-intentioned MBA providers. Another way of checking the validity and quality of the desired MBA program is to follow-up on the alumni of that program and their current status.
MBA accreditation

An MBA requires an above-average commitment, dedication, diligence and financial effort and that makes the choice of the best Business School even more relevant. The criterion of accreditation is a significant one and can help the applicant form the correct opinion about the institution in question and place it on the right position in the quality scale.

The three most respected accrediting bodies are: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Accreditation from any of these three organizations confers a premium status to a Business School.

MBA Ranking

The MBA rankings or the Business School rankings are another good tool to assist the prospective student in making the best decision possible. Websites like Financial Times or topmba provide the latest rankings based on the MBA employers opinion and can also help in creating your own personal ranking based on the criteria relevant to you.

MBA Admission

The admission procedure for an MBA can be quite time consuming, demanding and complicated and thus has to be carefully prepared. Usually composed out of several stages, it always requires a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and an English Language Proficiency Test (e.g. IELTS). Some top Business Schools prefer to have an own admission test, in order to better reflect specific requirements that the institution in question has, but these tests are still quite similar to the above mentioned ones.

The next step in the admission process is the submission of an essay that is intended to depict the suitability of the prospective student for the desired MBA. This essay has to be very well directed towards the particular Business School and the MBA the applicant is addressing, and not a general essay that can be used for several applications. Letters of recommendation are very often a requirement of the admission process as well and an important mean of deciding between two applicants with similar profiles. The last step of the process is usually an interview conducted by the representatives of the admission office, alumni or business people.

MBA Costs

The fees for an MBA vary significantly from one Business School to another and from program to program. Starting with 10,000 Euros a year and going up to hundreds of thousands Euros a year, the average expenses per academic year have been calculated to be around 50,000. MBAs are to be regarded as investments rather than costs. If done for the right reasons and at the appropriate time in ones career, the return on investment for an MBA is very good. With an expected salary increase of 10,000 to more than 40,000 a year, an MBA can repay the investment in a few years.

Additionally, many employers will provide financial support for their employees to graduate from an MBA in return for a long term commitment to the company.

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