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The Online MBA Is Attracting Candidates Across Industries In Search Of A Career Switch

Do you qualify for a top-tier online MBA program? We speak to the directors of Birmingham Business School’s 100%-online MBA to find out what kind of candidate makes a good fit


Mon Sep 10 2018

Dr Michael Shulver, director of online content, Online MBA and the Online MSc International Business at Birmingham Business School, has just got off the phone with a senior research scientist with a PhD in Epidemiology.

The scientist works at a UK Government Laboratory, leading teams conducting clinical research and testing. They are interested in pursuing an MBA but concerned about not having a strong enough business background.

Requirements for an MBA, Michael explains, usually dictate that a candidate has a minimum of three years’ managerial experience, but the candidate Michael spoke to clearly stands out with their vast experience in a non-traditional area for MBAs, and clear leadership experience and a proactive attitude in furthering their own knowledge base.


“It would be too easy to interpret that requirement narrowly”, he adds. “Frankly, if the candidate I talked [to] applied for a program I would bite their hand off!”

So, this person is the ideal candidate?

“They clearly have the intellectual ability, and have been involved in leadership roles,” Michael says. “Is this individual ideal? Who knows. A better question would be, what does the typical candidate look like?”

For the Online MBA at Birmingham Business School—the world’s first AMBA accredited 100%-online MBA—the candidate criteria are “pretty much” the same as the campus-based, or executive program.

Michael says they typically attract mid-to-senior managers looking to move into more general management, or perhaps to make a shift into a different sector, or role.

They often tell him they want to make themselves more “attractive” or “marketable” in the jobs market. Others explain that they have a craving for more knowledge and want to hone their understanding of business and management.

That’s the case with the candidate Michael spoke to. “The research scientist is moving into commercial domains as they get a promotion in their organization,” he explains.

Generally, he adds, an MBA does help with the sought-after career advancement. But, there are caveats.

“A lot of people think an MBA is a ticket into a new specialization or a job. It’s not—no one hires anyone just because they’ve got an MBA,” Michael says. “People are hired because they have relevant experience and have demonstrated capability and competence.”

That translates to being honest in the application process. Daniel Chicksand, program director of the Online MBA at Birmingham Business School, says candidates shouldn’t cover up gaps in their CVs with falsehoods.


“We are, as admissions tutors, very good at finding holes in a CV or a candidate’s career timeline,” he says. “If you have a gap, don’t worry about it. If you took six months to run a beach bar for self-development that is absolutely fine. Don’t try to make out that you were chief executive in charge of cocktail development, or surfing.”

Daniel confirms that the Online MBA accommodates candidates looking for strong networking opportunities and peer-to-peer interaction. “Our Online MBA has active students from -8 to +8 GMT. In practice, that means from Davis, California, all the way to Sydney.”

Students on the Online MBA work together in groups with peers from around the globe. Fortnightly live sessions connect tutors, lecturers, and groups of students in an interactive, online learning environment—the sessions are two-and-a-quarter-hour long. Students are also often placed into group work exercises which – intentionally – are culturally diverse.

“The fact is, on our Online MBA people are networking internationally all the time,” says Daniel.

So, should you study an online MBA?

As an applicant, it seems clear cut. An online MBA could be the catalyst you crave for career progression, or if you want to augment your understanding of the concepts of business and management.

If you can prove you have the leadership ability, and come from a non-traditional MBA background, the door just might be open for you.

Student Reviews

Birmingham Business School - University of Birmingham




On Campus

An amazing experience

Great, knowledgeable faculty with a beautiful campus. Lots of societies and clubs to choose from in accordance with your interest. One can also discover scholarship opportunities here. The course is perfectly designed and the career services at the uni are very helpful




On Campus

The beautiful campus and teaching expertise.

Overall the University of birmingham is just an incredible institution. From the array of expertise teachings and how phenomenal the campus is definitely enhances its beauty and is enriched with the amazing resources and incredible people that are always willing to help and make you feel welcomed everywhere you go. I would 100% recommend the University of Birmingham to be one of the best universities out there and through not only the various courses that they offer but all the social societies definitely adds to the fun and great opportunities that it provides




On Campus

Exceptional Support for international Students

Exceptional Support for International Students As an international student, my experience at the University of Birmingham has been nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to the outstanding support provided for international students. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the exceptional support I've received during my time here. From the moment I arrived on campus, it was evident that UoB prioritizes the well-being and success of its international students. Here are some key aspects of the support I've received: 1. Orientation Programs: The university's comprehensive orientation programs helped me acclimate to campus life, navigate administrative processes, and understand the academic system. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, thanks to the informative sessions and friendly staff. 2. Academic Advising: The academic advisors for international students are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. They assisted me in creating a personalized academic plan, selecting courses, and understanding degree requirements. Their guidance ensured that I stayed on the right track academically. 3. Language Support: UoB offers exceptional language support services, including English language courses and conversation partners. These resources were invaluable in improving my language skills and building confidence in my communication abilities. 4. Cultural Integration: The university fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, making it easy for international students to feel like part of the community. There are numerous cultural clubs, events, and workshops that allow us to connect with fellow students and celebrate our diverse backgrounds. 5. Mental Health and Counseling Services: Recognizing the challenges that international students may face, the university provides excellent mental health and counseling services. It's comforting to know that support is available when needed, and these services are respectful of cultural differences. 6. Career Services: UoB offers exceptional career services tailored to international students. From resume workshops to job fairs, they've been instrumental in helping me prepare for my career post-graduation. The university's strong network of alumni has also been a valuable resource. 7. Visa and Immigration Assistance: Navigating the complexities of visa and immigration regulations can be daunting, but the university's dedicated staff provided guidance and assistance throughout the process. Their expertise made the experience seamless. 8. Housing Support: Securing suitable housing can be a challenge for international students, but the university offers assistance in finding on-campus housing options with flexible payments. This support ensured that I had a safe and comfortable place to live. 9. Financial Aid and Scholarships: UoB offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. Their commitment to making education accessible is commendable, they also provide financial support for graduation through the guild of students.




On Campus

student experience

I highly recommend the University of Birmingham. I think the school environment is very friendly to international students. I was able to get guidance and help from students in the school. I was also able to get support and guidance from the professional team on my career path. I would recommend the University of Birmingham to first-time international students and Masters students.




On Campus

There is always somebody to help!

The university respects the culture and background of their highly diverse student. It carters to everybody's need and puts its student first. It tries to the make the student feel at home and helps them deal with the university life.




On Campus


I love studying Pharmacy at Birmingham and would absolutely recommend it, especially because of the variety in every aspect of the course. Firstly, the variety of people you meet from all areas around the country, and even countless others from outside the country. Each person has a different background and experiences creating a melting pot of personalities to interact with. Next, the lessons - there are numerous types of lessons we encounter on a weekly basis from lectures to dissections to a computer workshops. Additionally, specific to medical degrees, I have 7 placements annually in hospital, community, and GP pharmacies. The only lack of variety in the pharmacy course is the classrooms since there are limited number we can use and the medical school is separate from the main campus. The only part I don't enjoy about pharmacy is the distances and unreliability of public transport in Birmingham. Living in the vale, the university is a long 25-minute walk away and my closest shop is over 10-20 minutes to walk. Although there are closer accommodations, I really love my flat with its modern decor, large room, and social aspect of the shared kitchen.




On Campus

Experience at University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham has been an outstanding university. They have provided complete support during COVID-19. The university is incredible when accessing support with mental health. I currently study criminology at the university of Birmingham. The course has been brilliant, with constant support from lectures and tutors to ensure that you achieve the best grade possible. I could not recommend University of Birmingham more!




On Campus


Great campus for studying with kind and professional staff and the campus is very well connected to the city center. There were so many people who wanted to enroll in the course that they had to queue for a new course for six months in advance. The classes were always crowded, but the professors never let anyone through. I love this uni




On Campus

A very welcoming uni

This university is regarded as one of the best in the world. They provide a welcoming environment that enhances the lives of the students because each one of them has a sense of community and a desire to study.

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