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Business administration master’s degree guide

Whether you’re looking to boost business profits or understand management in a global context, this guide will give you relevant information for finding a business administration masters (or another course) to enhance your business capabilities.


What is a business administration master’s degree?

Business administration is a broad degree that covers areas such as:

  • Analytics
  • Decision making
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Strategy

To study the subject is to explore issues relevant to businesses on a regional, national and global scale. Courses help you become reflective and constructive thought leaders in your area of expertise. You have practical opportunities that help you understand theories and create insights into the business world.

Courses suit people from various backgrounds who are looking to advance their careers. This includes senior professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, managers and consultants.


Why do a master’s degree in business administration?

A degree in this area will enhance your career and help you in leadership roles. You’ll be taught by business experts and practice in industry-standard facilities. You’ll learn how to find original and socially responsible solutions to business challenges, while discovering how to bring sustainable impact to an organisation.

The business administration skills you’ll develop include an ability to research, interpret and apply business data, international marketing and risk management. You’ll also develop transferable qualities like:

  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Interpersonal and people management
  • Numeracy and IT literacy
  • Persuasive written and oral communication
  • Strategic analysis and research

Courses are often approved or accredited by organisations like the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). They offer membership, career development and networking opportunities.


What qualifications can you get?

Qualification options include masters, doctorates, certificates and diplomas in business administration. Each has a slightly different focus and style of teaching.

Masters in business administration (MBA/MSc)

The most common masters in this subject is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). It’s a popular, globally recognised business qualification usually studied by people with business experience. Courses provide fundamental knowledge and skills, preparing students for leadership careers. Tuition fees are often a lot more than most master’s courses.

Some universities offer a Master of Science (MSc) in the subject, a similar but less-intensive course.

Doctorate business administration (PhD/DBA)

Research degrees include the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), where you undertake an in-depth original piece of work.

Another option is the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), a step up from the MBA. It combines research and business practice. Both options open doors to a wide range of careers.

Certificates in business administration (PGCert/PGDip)

Postgraduate certificates (PGCert) and diplomas (PGDip) are shorter versions of the master’s qualification. They help deepen your knowledge without having to commit to a full MBA.


What jobs can you do with a master’s degree in business administration?

Graduates work as managers and leaders in organisations in various sectors worldwide. Employers include Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Citi, HM Treasury and the Financial Times. Examples of job roles are:

  • Accounting manager
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Chief marketing officer (CMO)
  • Chief operations officer (COO)
  • Finance analyst
  • Financial controller
  • HR manager
  • Information technology manager
  • Management analyst

Research graduates often continue their studies in international universities or organisations in the private and public sectors.


What are the business administration master’s degree requirements?

Business administration master’s courses usually require the following qualifications:

  • MBA/MSc – second-class honours (2.1) bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) and at least two years of relevant professional experience

You might be eligible if you have enough professional experience in a managerial or directorial role.

For other postgraduate courses, you’ll usually need:

  • PGCert/PGDip – same as for a masters
  • PhD/DBA – same requirements as a master’s, along with merit in a relevant master’s degree (or equivalent). You may need to submit a research proposal


What business administration master’s courses are there?

Examples of postgraduate business administration degrees available in the UK:

  • Business Administration MBA/PGCert/PGDip
  • Business Administration PhD/DBA
  • Business Administration (Digital Technology Management) MBA
  • Doctor of Business Administration DBA
  • International Business Administration MSc

What do you learn in a business administration master’s degree?

Potential module topics and research themes include:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Banking strategy
  • Corporate governance
  • Decision making and analytics
  • Financial reporting (IFRS)
  • Internationalisation of businesses
  • Management of nonprofit organisations
  • Organisational behaviour and leadership
  • SME strategies in developed and developing countries
  • Strategic human resource management


How will you be taught and assessed?

Taught courses, like the MBA, usually have structured teaching. You learn through lectures, seminars, group projects, tutorials and workshops. You’re assessed by exams, coursework, presentations, essays, reports and a business research project.

On a research degree, such as a PhD, you’ll work with expert supervisors but receive less support than on a taugh t course. Assessment is usually through an independent research project and oral exam (viva).

If you’re studying for a DBA, your teaching and assessment will be a combination of the methods used on taught and research courses.


How long is a master’s degree in business administration?

The length depends on what course you choose. Usually, courses are:

  • MSc – one to two years
  • MSc – one to two years
  • PhD/DBA – three to four years
  • PGCert – around 15 weeks or one term
  • PGDip – around 30 weeks or two terms

Part-time courses can be twice as long.


Similar subjects to business administration

Other subjects you could study that are like business administration include:

  • Accounting
  • Business economics
  • Business information systems
  • Finance
  • Logistics

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