best online mba uk

Last Updated on September 18, 2023 by Paschal Alvina

In a ranking table often dominated by US schools, the second most-represented country in the rankings is the UK, with eleven online MBA programmes featured this year, including three in the top 10. The UK has long been one of the most popular countries for undertaking a full-time or executive MBA but is now proving to be a leading provider of distance and online options as well.

You can expect world-class teaching at all the institutions in the UK listed in the rankings, with the added advantage of their home campuses being in a country renowned for its role as a global business centre, particularly in the fields of finance and technology.

So, what institutions made it into the top three in the UK? Read on to find out.

1) Imperial College Business School

Imperial College Business School

The Imperial Global Online MBA programme at Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London is ranked top in the UK, and second globally. It’s a 24-month course, and the fees for the upcoming intakes are £41,350 (approx. US$56,974).

Imperial received the second-highest scores in the top 10 for employability and faculty and teaching. Most of the teaching during the programme is conducted through The Hub, a virtual learning platform developed by Imperial’s award-winning Edtech lab. Students complete pre-study modules, then attend a five-day compulsory in-person induction week, as well as four core module periods followed by an optional global experience week. The course ends with a capstone business game.

Professor Markus Perkmann, Academic Director of the programme, said: “We find that our candidates are highly employable but also highly promotable for several reasons. First, our programme is selective, hence our MBA candidates are all high-calibre professionals, working in top companies around the globe. Secondly, the brand recognition of Imperial as a global top-ten university means many employers will trust in the expertise of our graduates.

“Our teaching is highly interactive and focused on practice-oriented assignments, often as group work which enables our students to not only learn basic knowledge, but also critical thinking and communication skills.”

The Global Online MBA cohort is the second-most international on the list, with 85 percent international students and 62 nationalities represented. 36 percent of candidates are women.

When asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Imperial’s online MBA programme, Perkmann said: “We have found that our Global Online MBA programme has been the least affected by the pandemic, and we have therefore seen a significant increase in applications. 

“However, online MBAs like our programme had already seen growing interest before the pandemic, and we will continue to see this growth trend after the worst of the pandemic is over.”

As you would expect from such a highly-ranked programme, Imperial’s online MBA has quite strict entrance requirements. You would usually need a minimum of five years’ relevant professional work experience, although this can be lowered to a minimum of three years’ in exceptional circumstances.

In terms of academic achievement, you will need at least a 2:2 honours (or international equivalent) in an undergraduate degree. The English language requirement is a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (or equivalent). However, you don’t need a GMAT score to apply.

2) Warwick Business School

Warwick Business School

The Distance Learning MBA at Warwick Business School has been running for over 30 years and is extremely well-established in the online learning marketplace – ranked third in the world, and second in the UK.

Students attend two campus-based Warwick Weeks, combining lectures, seminars, group and networking activities at the Warwick campus. Group work is integral to the program. There are eight required modules as well as your choice of four electives and a consultancy project. Each module involves around 30 teaching hours, 40 hours of guided self-study, and 30 hours of independent self-study.

Whilst students are expected to complete the program within two years, if unexpected work or family commitments arise, it’s possible to extend your studies into a third year at no extra cost. You can even extend into a fourth year, but this will incur an additional cost.

The application requirements are fairly similar to Imperial’s. Students need a minimum of four years’ managerial work experience, a 2.1 (or international equivalent) in an undergraduate degree, and an IELTS score of 7.0, or another equivalent English proficiency test. The GMAT isn’t required.

The programme received high scores in the employability, class profile, and faculty and teaching indicators.

Pietro Micheli, Professor of Business Performance & Innovation and Course Director for the Distance Learning MBA, said: “The main reasons WBS is ranked so highly for our online MBA is because of our platform, our experience and expertise in providing blended learning, our top faculty, and our network of alumni. 

“We invest heavily in edtech every year and have a fantastic e-learning department that now has two film studios to record lectures, webinars and discussions. We are also going to companies to film on site, developing mini-documentaries to help open up the subject even more for students. We are also developing in-house content such as online business games, where students can simulate what happens when they make strategic decisions as a manager of a business. Our platform has really helped the school during the coronavirus pandemic, making the move to online teaching for the rest of our courses a lot smoother.”

The Distance Learning MBA cohort is diverse, with 14 years’ average work experience, 79 percent international students and 33 percent female students. Fees for the programme are £34,150 (approx. US$47,000).

3) Alliance Manchester Business School

Alliance Manchester Business School

The Global Part-time MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School is ranked fifth in the world and third in the UK. The two-year part-time MBA (with 18-month accelerated pathways) has intakes in January and July, with tuition fees of £30,000 (approx. US$37,293) or £27,500 (approx. US$34,177) for the accelerated Finance pathway.

Much like Imperial, there is a group business simulation project, which is based on global business and management challenges. The live business project allows you to explore trends and opportunities for innovation in your own organization, or in a sector of your choice.

In terms of face-to-face interaction, you can expect a total of 17 days of interaction (in your home centre) in your first year of study, and 13 days in your second year in your home centre and overseas (for electives only).

The blended delivery of the course also includes residential workshops, a live business project and online learning. There are 30 days of teaching spread across six residential workshop, the online lectures are delivered in a dedicated virtual environment, plus discussions and self-study.

GMAT or GRE scores are required, or you can take the university’s own Manchester Admissions Test online as part of your application. You must also have at least three years of professional experience, plus evidence of strong career progression and a recognized first degree. An English language qualification is also required, if applicable.

This year’s cohort is highly diverse, with 80 percent international students coming from 70 different countries, 30 percent female students, and an average of 12 years’ work experience.

Top 10 Online MBAs in the UK

Here’s the complete top 10 ranking of the best online MBA programs from UK business schools.

Top 10 Online MBA Programs UK
UK RankGlobal RankSchool
12Imperial College Business School
23Warwick Business School
35Alliance Manchester Business School
411Durham University Business School
512Oxford Brookes Business School
613Birmingham Business School
726Aston Business School
832Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen)
934The Open University Business School
1038Bradford School of Management

This article was originally published in June 2018 and updated

This article was originally published in June 2018 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written byJulia G

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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