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Studying MBA: Look before you leap


Refaat Kazoun, CEO and co-owner of Stafford, weighs up the pros and cons of an MBA

March 19, 2014 9:30 by

A master of business administration degree – or MBA – is widely recognised as one of the most prestigious postgraduate qualifications. At Stafford, which offers distance learning solutions, we have been collaborating with some of the UK’s best-known universities for the past two decades, with more than 1,000 MBA students from across the region having graduated through our supported distance education programmes. In a competitive market, for many, it’s the difference between moving up the career ladder or languishing on the same rung, while for others, the qualification can mark the start of a completely new career direction.

However, it is no secret that an MBA is a considerable investment in terms of time, commitment and financial outlay. The approximate price of an MBA on one of our programmes starts at $14,200 and can take from between 18 months and five years to complete. Before you begin, it’s important to weigh up the different options available to determine which course will best fit your lifestyle and career goals and, indeed, if an MBA is the right choice for you.

Be realistic

An MBA is a huge commitment, so be honest with yourself about exactly what you need to put in. In terms of cost, look at any hidden extras, such as materials, books, exam costs, mandatory travel costs and graduation fees. While a higher price isn’t necessarily indicative of quality, compare the cost with similar programmes to see if you’re truly getting what you’re paying for. Ask yourself what type of study you can commit to – a faster, full-time course might seem like the best option in terms of time commitment, but do you need a flexible solution or the financial security that part-time study, coupled with your employment, can offer? Learning styles differ, so look at what would suit your needs, whether it’s a full-time on-site course, e-learning, distance learning or a supportive and blended learning environment.

It pays to be discerning

Due to high demand, there has been a huge increase in the number of business schools and universities offering both distance learning and onsite postgraduate qualifications in the UAE. However, much like any other university course, standards and rankings can vary drastically, so it is essential to do your homework before you commit. Thoroughly research the standing of the school or university – look at its ranking, both nationally and internationally, and ask how long it has been running its MBA course, both at home and abroad. Look at the entry requirements – are they realistic, too hard or too easy? Most importantly, you need to ascertain if the institution and its qualifications are recognised and accredited, and by whom. This information should be readily available and transparent – if it isn’t, you need to ask why.

Get to know your support network

Whether on-site or distance learning, a reputable institution should have a solid network in place to support you as you study. If possible, find out who your teaching staff will be – what is their experience or qualifications, are they renowned in their fields of expertise and what have they authored on the subject? Accessibility and reliability are key, both for teaching and support staff – find out how, where and when you will be able to contact them. For distance learning, ask what local support is offered, such as seminars or networking opportunities.

An MBA is not for everyone, but with it can come better career prospects, a higher salary, and new skills and opportunities. Choose wisely and it might just be the life-changing experience you were looking for.

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