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Accelerating your business career – which programme is right for you?

Pursuing a postgraduate business qualification is one of the most popular ways that professionals can fast track their careers.

A masters level degree gives students the knowledge and expertise they need to boost their strategic thinking and develop their practical management skills.

As well as gaining more responsibility at work – and often a higher salary – a business qualification is an important step in your professional journey toward taking more senior positions in the future, as it hones your practical skills, empowers you take on the demands of modern business and enhances your ability to perform at the highest levels in global business.

However, there is no standard route to gaining a postgraduate qualification in business. There are many different courses on offer that are tailored to your individual aims, learning styles and career stage.

At the University of Birmingham, we offer an Online MSc International Management and an Online MBA. Offered 100% online, both are perfectly suited to professionals who need to balance their study with their existing work and personal commitments. 

Both are also a masters level qualification – so how do you know which programme is right for you?

Whether you choose to study the MSc or the MBA course, you will gain valuable skills and knowledge that you can put into practice within your current role – as well as prepare you for senior management and leadership positions.

“One of the primary differences between the MSc and the MBA are the types of learners that will get the most out of the course delivery” says Dr James Blackmore-Wright, Programme Director of the Online MSc International Management.

“The MSc is aimed at more recent graduates who still readily have the ability to undertake the triangle of learning – the research, theory and practise – that they need in order to understand the ‘why’ of what happens in business and management. Whereas an MBA student tends to be further along in their career and require a more hands-on approach, which is more suited to their level of practical experience and the implementations they’ve already been part of in the workplace.” Tutor expectations also vary between the two courses, as well as the types of assessments. The Online MBA dissertation leans toward a practical study or company project, whilst the Online MSc dissertation is often research based, allowing students to further explore the theory of business and management in more depth.

Additional support and guidance is also given to MSc students, as they tend to be at an earlier stage in their career.

“The MSc is a really accessible programme which helps students to step up into a management level. We help students understand the practicalities of business as well as having a focus on soft skill development. MSc students also have access to a wealth of resources and careers support from the University to help them take their career forward” says Dr Blackmore-Wright.

For students who already have significant management experience under their belts, the Online MBA can help them to build their professional network and progress their career into a senior leadership role, often within a specific area. 

“Students on an MBA often have more leadership exposure and the course delivery and discussion focus reflects that. MBA students are also able to choose elective modules to help them tailor their study into a more niche area such as marketing, change management or finance” says Dr Solon Magrizos, Programme Director for the Online MBA.

The entry requirements are also different between the MSc and the MBA.

“On the MSc, as well as the standard entry criteria, we also look at students who fall outside of the traditional framework. Ultimately, I am looking for motivation and an ability to engage with problem solving and decision making. We are looking to take students out of the junior management level – that is always the ultimate objective of the MSc” says Dr Blackmore-Wright.

The MBA is a very practical course and so students typically have several years of work experience behind them that they can apply to their learning and discussions.

“Usually, MBA students have been progressing their career for 5,6, 7 or more years, possibly in a senior management or ‘director of’ role, who want to develop into a leadership position. I am looking for evidence of analytical skills, team work and a strong motivation to succeed” says Dr Magrizos. 

When choosing which course is the best fit for you, students may question whether they should wait until they are further along in their career before deciding on a programme of study. However, our Programme Directors disagree.

“Seniority and experience does not necessarily come with time. Without additional qualifications, you may never reach above a certain level in your career. Choosing the course that matches your career experience now, can help you achieve a promotion you might not get otherwise” says Dr Magrizos.

“Don’t delay!” adds Dr Blackmore-Wright. “Think about what you can achieve now and how that will give you a set of tools to use immediately. Be relevant in the business environment today and gain clarity on where you want to take your career in the future.”

Whatever your career stage, the online business qualifications at University of Birmingham can accelerate you toward your professional goals and enable you to make an impact in the workplace from day one.

Whether you are looking to better understand the complexities of management with an Online MSc International Management or elevate your existing experience to a senior leadership level with an Online MBA, we can help you achieve your ambitions. For more information please visit our website or call our Admissions team on +44 (0)800 032 7101.