Each course attracts markedly different students so, with plenty at stake, you must ensure that you choose the right MBA for you

General MBAs

Teaching broad business management skills, a general MBA is applicable across numerous sectors and roles. They attract students who possess limited managerial experience, but want to quickly accelerate their career.

You'll often require at least three years' work experience, but some institutions may look for more.

Students typically have a global perspective, great team skills, high academic potential, and exceptional commitment, motivation and self-awareness.

Before enrolment, you may be required to complete the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) which analyses your numerical and written skills.

To find out what courses are available, search MBA courses.

Executive MBAs

These practical courses focus on improving students' leadership capacities and networking prospects. They are geared towards those looking to progress rapidly within their current company or find new opportunities within their industry.

Students are usually older, with most possessing at least ten years' work experience. The average student on Manchester Business School's Executive MBA is 36, compared to an average age of just 29 on the institution's general MBA.

As students are often working 40 hours a week and juggling family lives programmes usually fit around students' careers, with modules often taken in the evenings and weekends.

To find out what courses are available, search executive MBAs.

Specialist MBAs

Becoming increasingly-popular these courses are perfect if you've got some managerial experience and want to remain within, or enter, a particular sector.

Specialist MBAs teach general business and management skills, but with a focus on a particular industry such as aviation or healthcare. They attract students who feel that a general programme doesn’t meet their specific needs, or fails to understand the alternative commercial success markers of their niche industry.

Distance learning

An increasingly popular option, studying for an MBA via distance learning means that you study in your own time, using supplied material with support from a tutor. The Open University MBA programme is just one example of a distance learning course.

Even though you may not be required on campus, a distance learning MBA is still time consuming. You will need to set aside at least 20 hours a week for a programme of this type, according to the Association of MBAs.