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Seb Anthony

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I have recently been asked this question by a senior manager wishing to progress from his DMS.

Does the MBA still have the same prestige or is the MSC a better alternative for our aspiring leaders?

I would welcome any opinions on this.

Beverley Woodhams

9 Responses

  1. Arain Associates Ltd
    With the changes to the qualification framework that are currently being suggested then it would appear that neither are regarded as being better or worse than each other and neither are going to be viewed as having as much credance as an NVQ level 5 in Management. Check out the proposed changes and realignments on the QCA website.

  2. NVQ?
    I don’t think there will ever be a situation in which NVQ’s are as highly regarded, particularly by “premium” employers as an MBA or an MSc. As after several years of NVQs being regarded by government agenda as being equal to more traditional qualifications they are still seen to stand for “Not Very Qualified” in most employers minds.

    I would suggest that an MBA is still held in higher regard than an MSc (and the workload involved in the programmes reflects this an MBA is a lot more work and usually a lot more expensive). However a lot depends on whose program you choose for your MBA, some business schools MBA programmes are recognised as the creme de la creme of management training others, such as the Open University for example, are not particularly highly regarded and an MSc might well be preferable to this form of programme.

  3. MBA
    MBAs have in the past not been valued as much in the UK as they are, for example, in the States. However that has changed a great deal of the last few years with Britsh employers recognising their value and increasingly sponsoring MBA programmes. Both qualifications are valuable – ultimately it depends on what you’re really looking to get out of a Master programme.

  4. MBA or MSc, which is better
    I agree with the earlier comment thatthe key factor is the quality of the Institution (Business School or University) and its teaching. It should be noted taht at London Business School the main course was called MSc until 1987 when it changed its name to MBA. Also at Crannfield School of Management there are various MSc courses which allow particpants to specialist in areas such as International HR Management, Logistics or Finance and some of these are on a part-time or Modular basis. There is substantial growth at most top Business School in the number doing EMBA (Executive MBA) on a part time or modular basis which allows them to study at the same time as working full time. Again the institution and its quality of faculty are what matters, not the name of the degree

  5. Its the School that matters
    I’m pretty certain that in the end what matters is the School which provided the degree rather than the acronym itself. There are several different rankings of business schools (the FT ranking is probably the most widely used) and a degree from a top-ranking school is generally perceived as a lot more valuable than one from a less prestigious school. You might also want to look at the AMBA (Association of MBA’s) website:

    Happy to talk to you further if I can help – I myself am a graduate of London Business School, and we do a lot of work with business schools, so it’s an area I’m reasonably familiar with. Call me on 07947 010 342 or email me at [email protected]

  6. Don’t underestimate the OU
    The comment that the Open University is not highly regarded as a MBA school needs to be tempered with some other information.

    The OU is one of the few schools that is accepted by all three of the MBA accrediting bodies (AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA), it has the largest cohort in the country and it keeps getting great external assessment results.

    Having done one of the MBA modules, I know that the students are normally part time and working while they study – this adds some real life aspects to the course theory. Moreover, an unexpected bonus: OU MBA cohort is truely international with eastern and western europe students participating.

    More info at

  7. Fair Comment
    Carol – your comment regarding the OU programmes are almost certainly true.

    However when I spoke to the OU about doing my MBA with them they advised me that their business school was not very highly regarded and I should consider strongly whether or not to invest in another school before commiting my time and money. I have to say I was surprised by their honesty but I have had this opinion confirmed several times from other employers and remain glad that I did not elect to use the OU for this purpose.

  8. Who does he want to impress?
    Recognize that the primary value of an MBA to many employers is that it offers proof that the candidate was good enough in some important respect to be accepted into the programme. What matters is less what they learned than *who* granted the degree, the OU or Oxford.

    Therefore, you have to ask who the manager wants to impress. If it’s someone who needs a competent economist or financial analyst or marketing specialist, then an MSc is probably better. If the employer is looking for a company figurehead, then an MBA may be better.

  9. MBA or MSc
    First point to make is that MBAs from accredited schools are for managers with some work experience whilst MScs are usually more for people moving straight on from a first degree.

    I will admit some bias as a regional chair of AMBA (

    So in terms of dealing with real business issues and bringing a dose of reality and practice to the theory then the MBA wins hands down each time. Bear in mind though that sometimes an MSC in a particular functional area – eg HRM, Finance could cover much of what is in an MBA syllabus and may be appropriate to their future career.

    Arguably the key thing is the employability and this leads to the next consideration – is the individual wanting to do something full time or part time? If still remaining in work then a part time or distance learning course is the route – several of these and depends on whether the individual can make the regular (eg Wednesday) evening or weekend sessions or needs more flexibility in which case distance learning wins hands down.

    As per other contributors there are some providers out there who have mickey mouse courses – so ALWAYS go for an accredited MBA or an MSC from a reputable business school(accreditation suggests this).
    You should expect AMBA and Equis as a minimum.

    One of the issues around MBAs is that people come out from esp full time degrees witha theoretical hat on through case studies and can’t actually apply the learnings in real life. (Mintzberg et al) Therefore an MBA which has assignments that are the the individuals own organisation demonstrate real learning and implementation, plus a benefot for the organisation. The OUBS is one such model

    In terms of Nik Kellingley’s comments – as an OU MBA and MBA tutor for strategy and marketing, I think he must have talked to someone who knows nothing about the MBA – often the case with the basic front line advice where those people are more used to talking about first degree courses.

    The OUBS is one of only 21 business schools in the world and the only distance learning course in Europe which has triple accreditation.

    Most other distance learning providers envy the OUBS materials and support through tutorials etc. In discussions with MBAs from other schools
    They are about to launch an MBA in Life Sciences which covers a similar route to the general MBA and subsitutes 60 or the 180 points with a purpose designed course in the Life Sciences context for those in healthcare inc NHS, pharma etc

    So in conclusion – probably an MBA unless there is a need to specialise.



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