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University of Cape Town MBA Review | Curriculum, Application & Careers

Find out about the MBA program at the University of Cape Town, including international exchange opportunities and insights from current students


Fri Nov 25 2022

When considering where you should study your global MBA, South Africa is an attractive option. International applicants will know it as a magnet for tourists with its stunning beaches, cultural diversity and outdoor lifestyle. But there are also sound business reasons to consider the country: the economy is the second-largest on the continent, and it is the only African country to belong to the G20, making it a key economic player globally.

One of the most prestigious MBA programs available in South Africa—and across the African continent—is offered by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. It boasts a global perspective plus an opportunity to study business in an emerging economy at first hand. The UCT MBA is the only program in Africa to have appeared on the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking, where it placed fifth for value for money, 12th for Corporate Social Responsibility, and 14th for International Course Experience.

According to the program director Caitlin Ferreira, the school’s competitive performance in international rankings reflects its unique position among global business schools.

“MBA students in Africa often find that they have much more access and many more opportunities for impact on the continent than they would in any other region of the world,” she says. “The UCT GSB’s MBA equips them for the opportunities, challenges and responsibilities that come with this type of access.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the program – including what to expect from the curriculum, the application process, and your career post-MBA.


University of Cape Town MBA | Class profile

While the school does not make a general class profile widely available, MBA cohorts at UCT GSB usually number around 65 students. They are all aged 25 years or older with a minimum of three years’ work experience in a relevant field, with the cohort coming from across business specialisms and representing all working-life age groups. Fluency in English is a requirement for the program.


Minaz Munshi (pictured right) is a member of the class of 2022. A South African citizen, she started her career as an industrial engineer, soon discovering a passion for operations. She has worked in strategy for KPMG South Africa and Strategy&, part of the PwC network, in Johannesburg, as well as BizOps at LinkedIn in Ireland.

Before the MBA, Minaz had enjoyed learning on the job, but she felt it was time to back up this practical experience with in-depth theory and analysis at business school.

She chose UCT because it was one of the best business schools in South Africa, and Africa, and because the program offers in-depth teaching, not just on general business concepts, but how these apply in emerging markets.

Minaz also wanted a launchpad from which to explore a potential entrepreneurial career. She has been the co-founder of an e-commerce business since 2020 and she felt that UCT offered access to a more dynamic business context to learn the tools of the trade.

“The landscape was more exciting in an emerging market aspect, and funding has also been flowing into Africa, so for me personally, that criteria was what I was looking at and UCT had a lot going for it.”

University of Cape Town MBA | Curriculum

The curriculum on the MBA at the University of Cape Town is designed to provide the generalist training of a top MBA degree, with particular attention to how students can apply these concepts in emerging markets.

Core courses include topics such as business and leadership in global contexts, managing complex environments, and strategic decision-making in changing environments, while electives are offered on subjects including Social Finance, Company Valuations, Digital Market-Making, Lean Thinking and Operational Excellence, and Venture Launch.

For Minaz, some of the unexpected highlights of the program were in the more technical modules she expected to find less interesting.

“I hate finance, I’m just not good at it,” she says. “I’ve never particularly seen myself in a financial role and I’m never going to be CFO of a company, but [the course professor] was brilliant at delivering our finance module, giving us a breakdown of corporate finance and making it relevant going into industry.”

The MBA also offers students a chance to specialize, selecting specific combinations of core and elective courses to tailor their degrees towards careers in areas like management consulting, corporate finance, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

Naturally given her startup aspirations, Minaz opted to specialize in entrepreneurship, learning how to identify good business ideas, assess demand, and build and deliver a pitch deck. At the end of the rotation, she and her peers were invited to pitch to real investors and receive constructive feedback, an experience she recounts as being very impactful in her early startup career.

University of Cape Town MBA | International exchange opportunities

While students coming to UCT from abroad may be keen to use the opportunity to get under the skin of an emerging economy—and to enjoy South Africa's hiking opportunities and stunning wildlife—local students can take advantage of traveling outside the country and being a part of a global business school network by participating in international exchanges. The MBA at UCT offers ample such opportunities. 

UCT is very well connected, currently gives students access to almost 50 partner schools, plus another 32 leading business schools through the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM).

The study abroad programs available range from one week to six months in duration, with students able to exchange either for a full semester, a Summer School specializing in a particular discipline, or one week with a GNAM exchange.

This option appealed to Minaz: “[Being able] to cover an emerging market MBA [and still] do a couple of months in one of the other leading MBA institutions around the world, to me made a lot of sense."

University of Cape Town MBA | Networking 

Naturally, when some business schools' MBA cohorts number almost 1000 students, one might expect that a small class like the one at UCT would limit students’ networking opportunities. However, Minaz and Caitlin believe that the small class sizes at UCT drive students to network more consciously.

“It’s a very small class, but what that meant for us was that we were forced to network outside the MBA,” Minaz explains.

As well as building deeper connections with the people on her program, she also branched out into other cohorts, making acquaintances in the part-time and EMBA programs as well as through the alumni network.

According to Caitlin, this is typical of many UCT MBAs’ experiences on the program.

“Alumni provide one of the most important networking opportunities for MBA students,” she says. “Alumni of the UCT GSB’s MBA programme often describe their experience as having been ‘transformative’, and even the School’s most senior alumni are keen to give back by providing advice and mentorship to current students and recent graduates.”

University of Cape Town MBA | Career outlook

Career outcomes for UCT MBA grads are strong. 80% of the 2020 class and 71% of the 2021 class were employed within 90 days of graduation, increasing to 95% and 86% respectively by 180 days.

This is no doubt thanks to the hands-on learning approach, emerging economy experience, as well as alumni connections made during the program. It is also due to the extensive Corporate Partnerships program offered by the business school.

The Corporate Partnerships, Careers and Alumni Office works with students to coordinate events around networking, sponsorship, fundraising, brand awareness, and access to bursaries and scholarships for prospective students.

Popular examples include the Future of Work Fair, the Women in Business Conference and Fundraiser, the UCT Mega Job Expo, and the Africa Business Conference.

University of Cape Town MBA | Application & fees

The essential components of an application to the MBA at the University of Cape Town Graduate Business School are:

—A resume demonstrating a minimum of three years’ work experience in a relevant field

—A GMAT score of 550 or above

—Three essays demonstrating what motivates you to apply

—Two references

—A Bachelor’s degree or Postgraduate Diploma

Caitlin emphasizes the importance of proper GMAT preparation when applying to UCT.

“First and foremost, we encourage students to commit to studying for the GMAT as this is crucial to obtain a score of at least 550,” she says. “The GSB sets students up for success by offering GMAT preparation classes, and there are a host of other preparation opportunities including an 8-week study planner from”

Selected candidates will be invited to interview, where they will need to further demonstrate their motivations for applying to the MBA program.

“The ideal candidate for the MBA at the GSB is a motivated, rising executive who has aspirations of operating at an executive level,” says Caitlin.

“We tend to find that those entering the MBA program may have been very successful within one or two functional areas of the business but find that in order to get to the executive level they need to develop a broader understanding of all functional areas of the business.”

Once accepted, students are fortunate to be studying on one of the best value MBA programs worldwide.

While top North American programs might set you back upwards of $100,000, total fees for the MBA at UCT are $30,000 for non-African residents, and half that for African citizens.

Main image source: Ian Barbour on Flickr, reproduced here under this license.

Student Reviews

University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT)




On Campus

New experiences and new connections

The university is a vibrant environment with a blend of cultures and languages from around the world. The lecturers are world-renowned and give their all in ensuring that the lectures are understandable and engaging. I would definitely recommend a prospective student to enjoy the UCT experience




On Campus

The diversity

You can find people of every race and culture at UCT. This is especially beneficial for students from towns and rural areas. This diversity promotes self-development, foreign language study, courage, and a strong sense of moral principles. There is always academic support available, and students are given the assistance they need to succeed academically. Health care facilities are conveniently located on campus and are all easily accessible at UCT.





Great programme

The programme covers all the principles necessary to understand in order excel in your career and workplace. As a computer science graduate, the programme has better prepared me for real life. Not only with programming skills but with an in-depth understanding of the field I am in. The campus is really beautiful, with a huge aspect of GREEN. There is literally plants everywhere which makes the place looks beautiful and shows the university cares for the environment. All the students are super nice too!






It was great fun and learning experience at the University of Cape Town. I believe it is ranked the top university of Africa because of its extra and exceptional way of learning which start from scratch.




On Campus

Best Experience

The greatest thing about UCT is the amount of diversity - there are people from all over Africa and usually there are exchange students and just foreigners. The fact that it is also the top university in Africa is telling.





Best Short Courses

I recently complete the UCT marketing short online course in partnership with Getsmarter. I had a fantastic experience. I would recommend this to anyone. It take Up to 3 month to complete the course. There is a variety to chose from. It is great to help you advance in your career but it will not take years to complete. Great way to equip yourself in different areas and definitely worth the money you spent. Great tutors as well





Top Notch

This is the best university ever. The students' wellbeing are their top priority. During the fire that occurred at the campus, resulting in facilities such as res and libraries badly burned. The university took it upon themselves to sent us to private accommodation where they paid for our stay. I will never forget that experience and will always be grateful for what UCT has done!




On Campus

Amazing Experience

I started my journey at the university of Cape Town in 2019, as a foreign students I can say it was accommodating and not even a day did I feel discriminated. It has good facilities and ranked one of the best university in South Africa. The fees are expensive though especially for foreign students





Brilliant for FM career

The courses were interactive and the lecturer and support staff were supportive. There was a wealth of knowledge in the casework and the outcomes were realistic and relevant to the industry. The assessments were clear and unambiguous.




On Campus

prestigious reputation

UCT is a prestigious institution known for its high academic standards, research excellence, and contributions to the global academic community. The university has a diverse and experienced faculty, many of whom are renowned experts. UCT's campus is located on the slopes of Table Mountain, offering stunning views and a picturesque environment for students to study and socialize. The school is also a hub for research and innovation. contrary to that, UCT's tuition and living costs can be a barrier for some students, and financial aid options may be limited for international students. While the campus is generally safe, certain areas around the university may have safety concerns, requiring students to be mindful of their surroundings. Some undergraduate courses at UCT may have large class sizes, which could impact individualized attention and student-faculty interaction.




On Campus

Transformative community

My overall experience has been exceptional, One of the highlights of studying at UCT is the university's renowned academic reputation. The stimulating and challenging courses provided by passionate and knowledgeable professors have allowed me to expand my knowledge and explore various fields. UCT boasts a plethora of student clubs, societies, and sports teams that cater to diverse interests. This has enabled me to pursue my passion for music by joining the university's orchestra and collaborating with fellow musicians. The campus facilities are well-maintained and modern, offering state-of-the-art libraries, laboratories, and recreational spaces. The university's commitment to sustainable practices is also commendable, with initiatives such as recycling programs and eco-friendly buildings. In terms of support services, UCT has an extensive range of resources available to students. Finally, UCT's location in the vibrant city of Cape Town adds another dimension to the student experience.




On Campus

Academic excellence and student wellness

UCT is a place I feel at home. As a first year international student I thought it was going to be difficult for me to adjust to university life but this place proved me wrong. Through it's mentorship program life becomes easier as one will have someone as a mentor. This is something that made my learning easy. Travelling around the campuses and residences is easy using UCT shuttle buses. The main campus is situated just below a mountain and this provides a beautiful view of nature.