How to Choose Between Online MBAs

Find your course >>

All prospective MBA students will find themselves in a position where they must compare two or more MBA programmes. Comparing and assessing options happens at all stages, from initially identifying an MBA as a course choice to finally sitting down with an offer letter and committing to a particular MBA programme.

With this guide, we will aim to help with suggestions on how to frame comparisons and, more importantly, how to ensure your MBA choice fits your career goals.

Identify Your Goals and Needs

The first step is to clarify your career ambitions. Even if you have a good idea of your goals, noting how an MBA aligns with these, including the learning experience and timeframe, can be beneficial.

Being specific about your goals can help you identify the course content that will resonate the most. MBA programs generally have two components: Core Modules and Specialisations or Electives.

For example, if you are looking for an MBA to help you launch a business, selecting courses with specialisations in entrepreneurship would be more valuable than courses focusing on corporate finance and markets.

Career Objectives: Consider how an MBA aligns with your career aspirations. Are you looking to advance in your current field, a career change, or start your own business?

Core Modules: These cover business fundamentals but can differ significantly between MBAs. Will you benefit from a quantitative-heavy syllabus, or do your career plans not require in-depth math skills?

Specialisations: Look for programs offering specialisations that match your interests and goals, such as finance, marketing, technology, etc.


We have a detailed MBA guide that covers course structure in more detail.

Budget and Funding Options

Understanding the finance options available and setting a budget is key in determining which MBAs you can realistically consider.

MBAs from prestigious business schools are costly, and any postgraduate qualification is a significant investment in your career and professional development. An important step is to have the funding in place or a plan to have the funds in place by the enrollment deadline.

The links below have more information on the primary sources of MBA funding; please note the student and commercial loans pages are UK-specific:

+ Government Student Loans

+ Savings

+ Commercial Loans

+ Company Sponsorship

+ Scholarships

If you plan on relying on scholarships, be aware that scholarships are always over-subscribed, and only a tiny percentage of students are able to fund university via a scholarship.

With a clear understanding of your budget, the next step involves assessing the academic and admission requirements of MBA courses within budget.

Application Requirements and Selectivity

You should be aware that some MBA admissions are highly competitive, receiving many more applications than available places. As such, it is important to have realistic expectations of the strength of your application.

If you have an average undergraduate degree and modest career experience, gaining a place at one of the world’s top business schools will be challenging. However, you can discover many excellent and well-respected MBA programmes by broadening your search beyond the most renowned business schools.

Applicants with an undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above and three plus years of management or professional experience in a large organisation should feel comfortable applying to most UK business schools. If you have lower grades or a mixed career background, it may limit which schools you can apply to.

If you are still determining where you fit in, the following guides may be helpful.

Entry Requirements for Online MBA Programs

Work experience requirements for UK MBAs

Lastly, if you are unsure about your suitability for a particular MBA, contact the MBA program’s admission team and discuss your situation directly.

Flexibility and Time Commitments

Knowing how much time you can dedicate to part-time study can impact your course options. Most online MBAs are delivered over two years, but many programmes can be spread out over a longer period, with some business schools offering a flexible 5-year window to complete the degree.

To understand how the time you have each week can affect course completion, we have created a part-time study calculator to help estimate your weekly study hours and how it impacts the time to complete an MBA.

Research and Shortlist Programs

Once you are clear on how an MBA can help you achieve your goals, your suitability, and how you will fund your study, comparing courses using the following criteria can help clarify the best choice for your ambitions.

1. Course Fees: This includes payment flexibility, support available- scholarships, bursaries & alumni discount if available.

2. Entry Requirements: Are your a strong fit? or do you need to use your career experience to show your are a good candidate.

3. MBA Content: Do the core modules and specilistions interest you and are they relevant to your career goal.

4. Tutor Profile: Do the academics have a background in a relevant industry. Does there research overlap with your interests?

5. Accreditation: are accredited by recognised bodies like AACSB, AMBA, or EQUIS.

6. Rankings: Check rankings from reputable sources like the Financial Times, US News & World Report, and QS World University Rankings for a general overview of the program’s reputation.

7. Alumni Network & Career Serveries: A robust and active alumni network can be invaluable for career opportunities and mentoring.

Ask Questions

Once you have narrowed your options, we recommend contacting the admissions team to inquire about speaking with the course tutors, current students, and alums.

Speaking with current and past students can give you insights about the MBA that won’t be in a brochure or university website. While talking to a tutor can give you a real feel for the learning experience.

Most MBA admissions teams also run live webinars with the course leaders and sometimes with current students where there is a Q&A session. Webinars are a great opportunity to ask your questions directly and hear other people’s questions; you can often get insights about areas of the course that you might not have considered.

How to get the most out of a university information session. 


Choosing where to apply or which offer to accept is a significant decision. To make this choice with confidence, it is important to be clear about your career goals and understanding how an MBA can help you reach them. By thoroughly researching courses and assessing your strengths and weaknesses, you can identify the programs that align most closely with your career goals.

Use the following steps when comparing MBAs

Clarify your goals

Set your budget

Understand your strengths

Research course options

Proactively engage with business schools

Search Online MBA Programs

We list some of the top online MBA courses available from UK universities; use our search pages to start on your path towards an MBA and your career goals.

Search Online MBA programmes from UK universities. 

What's on this page

University Rankings