Studying for a postgraduate qualification at a top-rated UK business school can give your CV an edge 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 job opportunities in a variety of sectors such as accountancy, hospitality, IT, marketing, recruitment and HR and retail.
But with so many business schools to choose from, how do you identify the best?
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 also often arranged by subject, to give you a general idea of the best universities depending on your area of interest.
Institutions that regularly appear in the top ten of 2019 business school rankings include:
- Durham University Business School
- Lancaster University Management School
- Loughborough University School of Business and Economics
- University College London School of Management
- 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 2019 rankings include the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School, Imperial College Business School, Leeds University Business School, the University of Exeter's Business School, 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:
- Islamic Finance at Durham University Business School
- Work Psychology at Loughborough University School of Business and Economics
- International Business at University of St Andrews School of Management
- Business Analytics at University of Warwick Business School
- Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Leeds University Business School
- Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management at Manchester Alliance Business School
- Studies in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School.
As well as Bachelors and Masters degrees, business schools across the country also offer the Master of Business Administration (MBA). MBAs are an advanced, prestigious 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 fully research the necessity and relevance of the qualification to your career and the different courses on offer before committing to a programme. Discover more information on 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 study timetable around work or family commitments. In terms of funding, each business school is responsible for administering its own scholarships and bursaries so check what financial help is available at your chosen institution.
Masters loans can also help to lessen the financial burden. In 2018/19 you can borrow up to £10,609 to help towards tuition fees. If you already have a job, another funding option is employer sponsorship. Some business employers may be prepared to foot the bill for your course if your postgraduate qualification will benefit the company in some way. However, bear in mind that 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 when it comes to picking a business school.
You've done some initial research and now have a list of top-rated institutions, but how do you narrow down your options? First you need to decide on a course and list all the institutions that provide it. To help you reach a final decision you'll need to 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 cost of living at different universities and how you'll cover your living costs.
- 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. Do some research into 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 your 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 for?
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 is in no way a guarantee of employment. It's important to 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 need to 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.