Studying for a postgraduate qualification at a top-rated UK business school can give your CV a boost and springboard you into a lucrative career
Careers in the business and management field are characterised by high starting salaries, rapid progression and early responsibility. A Masters degree in a related subject can open up all kinds of opportunities in a variety of sectors, such as accountancy, hospitality, IT, marketing, recruitment and HR and retail.
But with so many business schools in the UK, how do you know which one to choose?
Best universities for business and management
UK institutions consistently feature in prominent positions in university league tables such as those compiled by The Complete University Guide, the Guardian, the Financial Times and QS Top Universities. These rankings are often arranged by subject, to give you an idea of the best universities depending on your interests.
Institutions that regularly appear in the top ten of 2020 business school rankings include:
- Durham University Business School
- Lancaster University Management School
- Leeds University Business School
- Loughborough University School of Business and Economics
- University of Cambridge, Judge Business School
- University of Exeter Business School
- University of Oxford, Saïd Business School
- University of St Andrews School of Management
- University of Warwick Business School
- University of Bath School of Management.
Other universities to make frequent appearances in 2020 rankings include City, University of London Cass Business School, Imperial College Business School, The University of Manchester Alliance Business School, and the University of Strathclyde's Business School.
Business and management courses
These top institutions offer a variety of programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. As well as the standard accounting, economics, finance and management courses, you can also study more specific Masters programmes, such as:
- MSc Islamic Finance at Durham University Business School
- MSc Work Psychology at Loughborough University School of Business and Economics
- International Business MLitt at University of St Andrews School of Management
- MSc Business Analytics at University of Warwick Business School
- Enterprise and Entrepreneurship MSc at Leeds University Business School
- MSc Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management at Manchester Alliance Business School
- Masters of Studies in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School.
As well as Bachelors and Masters degrees, business schools also offer the Master of Business Administration (MBA). An MBA is an advanced postgraduate qualification which can be studied at general, executive and specialist level. An MBA qualification is highly valued by business employers and can lead to promotion and increased salaries.
However, MBA courses are expensive and the cost of programmes varies considerably depending on where you study. Make sure you research the different courses on offer before committing to a programme. Learn more about the best MBA programmes in the UK.
The majority of business courses are available to study on both a full and part-time basis, enabling you to tailor your timetable around work or family commitments. Each business school is responsible for administering its own scholarships and bursaries, so check what financial help is available.
Postgraduate loans can also help to lessen the financial burden. In 2019/20, you can borrow up to £10,906 to help towards tuition fees.
If you already have a job, consider employer sponsorship. Some business employers may be prepared to foot the bill for your course if it benefits the company in some way. However you'll probably have to sign an agreement tying you to the organisation for a certain length of time once your programme is complete.
How to choose a business school
Studying for a postgraduate qualification requires a huge investment of time, effort and money, so it's essential you make the right choice.
You've done some initial research and now have a list of top-rated institutions, but how do you narrow down your options? First, decide on a course and list all the institutions that provide it. To help you reach a final decision, consider:
- Location - would you prefer to study close to home or further afield? In a city or somewhere a little quieter? You also need to take into account the living costs at different universities, and how you'll cover them.
- Reputation - to discover more about an institution's reputation speak to past students, look at rankings and find out if the university has industry accreditation. Research its academic community. Is the faculty diverse? Are lecturers considered leaders in the business field? Does the faculty have industry connections? Does the faculty have global experience and business knowledge? Read more about universities and departments.
- Teaching methods - are class sizes big or small? Are classes flexible enough to allow you to meet other commitments? Is the programme curriculum as broadly or narrowly focused as you'd like? Will you have access to one-on-one time with a mentor? Will you have the opportunity to complete an industry placement? What are the assessment methods?
- Alumni - what is the school's employment record like? Take a look at alumni networks to find out what past students are doing. What jobs, sectors and countries do they work in? Do they work in prestigious roles? Do any work for high-profile organisations? Also check out the reputation of the school's careers service. How long after graduation is help and advice available?
To find out as much as possible about an institution, research and read through their promotional material including prospectuses, websites and social media channels. It's also crucial to visit schools and, if possible, sit in on classes to get a real feel of the course. Attend open days and events such as study fairs to talk to admissions tutors, course leaders and current students and graduates.
It's important to remember that while gaining a business degree from a prestigious university might look impressive on your CV, it's in no way a guarantee of employment. Weigh up all the pros and cons of an institution before deciding on the right one for you.
How to apply
To apply for a course at most business schools you'll complete an online application form. You'll need to create an account on the university website, answer a list of set questions and submit supporting documentation. Unlike undergraduate courses, you'll submit your application directly to the university, so make sure that you're aware of application dates and deadlines (as these can vary slightly) to give yourself plenty of time to complete it to the best of your ability.
The documents that you need to submit include academic transcripts and degree certificates, two academic references and a personal statement (sometimes called a statement of purpose). Some business schools may also ask you to submit samples of your work, a CV and a cover letter.
Upon completion you'll need to pay an application fee. Institutions set their own fees so costs differ, but they're typically in the region of £50-£60. Once your application is processed you'll receive an offer of a place, or may in some instances be invited to attend a postgraduate interview. In order to secure your offer of a place you'll need to pay a course deposit.
Find out more
- See what the business, consulting and management sector has to offer.
- Learn more about management courses.
- Find out why you should study international business.