The programme Open University Business School MBA

The Open University Business School MBA is designed for practising senior and middle‑level managers. It has a strong international focus while the distance-learning framework is embedded in regular feedback by tutors, tutor groups and online student groups. Due to an interactive virtual learning environment, the OU Anywhere app, podcasts, downloads and an online library with more than 26 000 research articles available, students are able to access supportive learning material from anywhere, given there is internet access.

75 per cent of the programme consists of compulsory elements while 25 per cent stems from elective modules. MBA graduates need 180 credit points. These have to be acquired in two stages.

Stage 1 consists of the 60-credit point compulsory module ‘Management: perspectives and practice’ which takes up the first twelve months. The first year builds on the four pillars ‘action learning’, ‘critical engagement’, ‘collaborative engagement’ and ‘cross-functionality’. Courses are on a variety of topics, such as

  • organisational structure, power and politics, and change management
  • managing people and organisations
  • managing financial resources
  • marketing management
  • operations management

The aim is to develop a more profound understanding of principal management functions and their interrelations as well as to raise awareness of the wider global context in which business and management take place.

Stage 1 is also the basis for students to diversify their studies according to their specific needs and industries in Stage 2. Upon successful completion of Stage 1 of the MBA, students are eligible to claim the Postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration.

An example of the Stage 1 module ‘Management: perspectives and practice’ can be downloaded here for free.

Stage 2

During Stage 2 of the MBA students have the chance to diversify their knowledge according to their industries and careers. Successful completion of Stage 2 requires 45 credit points stemming from the compulsory modules ‘The dynamics of strategy’ (30) and ‘Corporate finance’ (15) plus another 45 credit points from this list. Each module counts 15 credit points.

  • Entrepreneurship: experience and perspective
  • Leadership and management in intercultural contexts
  • Management beyond the mainstream
  • Managing financial risk
  • Marketing in the 21st century
  • Managing in the digital economy
  • Strategic human resource management
  • Sustainable creative management
  • Supply chain management

Alternatively students can choose the 30-point credit module on ‘Business, human rights law and corporate responsibility’ and one more 15-credit point module.

Stage 2 modules are complemented by the compulsory 30-credit point module on ‘Making a difference: the management initiative’.

On completion of 120 credits of Stage 2, MBA students are eligible to claim the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration.

MBA Technology Management

Students who wish to focus on technology management have the option to choose four compulsory modules for Stage 2, as well as one elective module (see list above).

  • Managing technological innovation
  • Strategic capabilities for technological innovation
  • Corporate finance
  • the final project module: Making a difference: the management initiative

For more information on our MBA (Technology Management) see:


Students are assembled into tutor-facilitated groups of around 16 students. Tutors are responsible for providing individual tuition, professional advice and support, mentoring, assessment and regular feedback on the student’s performance throughout the module.

Learning takes place individually, with the group, online, in two one-day workshops, in structured activities supported by a range of resources such as specially designed books, a comprehensive online library and face-to-face opportunities including a residential school. Activities generally require online participation over 2 to 6 week periods.

The compulsory four-day residential school in the UK with study days from 9am – 8.30 pm can be replaced by a 21-day online equivalent with 1.5 hours per day on various tasks and activities.

The cost of the residential school (excluding travel) is included in the module fee.

MBA entry requirements

In order to qualify for an MBA at the Open University Business School, students have to prove their academic qualification and work experience, and international students a language competency requirement such as an IELTS score of 6.5.

Option 1) Bachelor’s degree with Honours and a minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, technical or professional role.

Option 2) Bachelor’s degree without Honours plus a GMAT examination with a score of

640 or above or complete a six-month OU module and a minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, technical or professional role.

Option 3) No Bachelor’s degree: Professional Certificate in Management (1 year) and a minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, technical or professional role.

The tuition fees include the cost of books, study materials, accommodation and meals at residential schools, access to the e-learning environment and project supervision, as well as the examination fee.

The fees, however, vary depending on the student’s country of residency:

United Kingdom
£15,328 – £16,991

Republic of Ireland
£17,833 – £19,550

Other EU
£18,602 – £20,347

Overseas: enquire at
Tel: +44(0)3003030266

for details and advice

Application deadlines:
May and November each year

OU Business School website

Interview with Eileen Arney

Open University Eileen Arney

OUBS Masters Programme Director

Thank you Eileen for answering a couple of questions. Would you mind first introducing yourself briefly?

I am the Teaching Director for Masters Programmes at the Open University Business School and am academic lead for the MBA programme. Previously I have worked as a senior civil servant including as Assistant Director of National Police Training and have designed and delivered leadership programmes for senior managers in the UK and overseas.

What is the difference between an Open University and a ‘normal’ university?

Our programme was specifically designed to be an online - it hasn’t been adapted from other formats. Flexibility is inbuilt for a range of learning styles and learning media – we are leaders in supporting distance learning using digital media.

Our approach to learning enables students to apply their knowledge immediately into their work environments, improving their skills and performance from the very beginning of the programme.

Please describe the university’s MBA as well as its specifications

Typically, our MBA takes three years at an average of 12-15 hours of study per week. The total time is flexible because our MBA structure is modular, so students can take breaks between modules if necessary but the degree must be completed within seven years.

We have recently launched an accelerated programme that can be completed in two years if a student can devote more time to study (20-25 hours per week) perhaps by working part-time, or using ‘study leave’ from an employer.

Our tutor groups are designed to enable students to learn from each other as well as the materials and the tutor. This doesn’t always mean meeting face to face. 

Which international accreditations does your school have?

We are now one of a select group of business schools in the world to have earned triple accreditation by AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, the leading international management education associations.

Please describe the profiles and backgrounds of your MBA students?

We launched the MBA almost 26 years ago and have had a consistently stable market share. We have almost 4,000 current students worldwide and a vibrant alumni community of more than 25,000 graduates from 128 countries.  

Our community of MBA students is very diverse and professionally experienced: Managers in over 75 countries are studying the OU Business School MBA because of its international relevance. The impact of cultural differences is a theme that runs through our MBA.

What is the application process like? Or rather, how do you select the candidates?

To be eligible to apply for our MBA, students need to have a Bachelor's degree awarded with honours or the equivalent and a minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, professional or technical role.

The majority of our students are practising managers and modules are designed so that they can instantly see the benefits of what they are learning in their workplace. A recent OU MBA alumni survey found that 83% of respondent saw an improvement in their performance and 74% of our MBA graduates said that their study benefitted their employers.

In what way is Brexit going to have an impact on the application process and the tuition fees?

The impact of Brexit is still unclear. However we are working hard to provide the best quality learning experience for our students and to keep our fees as competitive as possible and we will continue to do this. We will continue to warmly welcome students from Europe and other parts of the world on our MBA and other postgraduate qualifications.

Last but not least, how much is a full-time year?

The fee for studying for an MBA at OU Business School is £15,328 – 16,991 for UK students, depending on the modules choses, with rather higher fees for students for the Republic of Ireland, other EU countries and the rest of the world. Approximately 40 per cent of our students receive some form of contribution from their employer. Our award winning Business Case Builder helps students develop a compelling approach to their employer for help with study costs. Students can also pay as they study with monthly instalments through our Open University Student Budget Account which enables them to plan and manage their finances.

And when is the application deadline and the start of the academic year?

The final enrolment date for the May 2017 presentation will be April 21st 2017.

Thank you very much for this interview.

Rainer Wolff

Graduate 2016, Open University Business School, Munich

Rainer, please tell us about your decision to do an MBA at the Open University Business School

At first I thought about studying at our local university in Erlangen, but I was also curious and open-minded about studying in the UK. Deep down my hopes were that the OUBS MBA would provide a more international perspective.

If you look back at the time before the MBA, do you remember a specific moment that got you started?

Yes, I do. Before the MBA I had an interesting job where I was given the chance to do a strategic project at corporate level. Strictly speaking, that project was out of my league, but I had great support. I found the level of discussion and the relevance of our approach very intriguing. This was exactly what I wanted to do! I discovered not only how much I was able to contribute - but also the demands on leadership, which, at this stage, I was not yet able to provide. I found myself ready to take the next step.

In terms of your professional background, where did you work before and where do you work now?

I was head of e-commerce development, a team leader in middle management with a technical focus on software development. Like most of us in our study group I changed jobs twice during the course of my MBA and now work as Chief Operations Officer (COO) in a medium-sized public limited company.

And in terms of your personal background, in what way did the time as student influence your private life?

Studying for the MBA took all my spare time. I had to create time slots to study - about 15 hours a week on average. That’s a lot! I became an efficiency expert and tried to make every minute count. That way I could still be there for my family, but my time for everything else was truly limited.

What would you like to let future students know about the school and the program?

Compared to other universities, the OUBS has a slightly different philosophy and attracts different sorts of people. For example, I don’t consider myself to be a typical manager and neither did the members of our study group have backgrounds in economics or business studies. The variety of professions, interests, opportunities and goals was immense. In my case, management is my second career after 20 years in the IT business. After having worked as a software engineer and project manager I found it important to study with people of similar seniority who also had some professional experience.

The MBA programme itself is tailor-made for practising managers, who turn into reflective practitioners throughout their MBA journey. The programme was well designed and I could apply almost every model and theory to my daily management practice.

How would you rate your work-life balance as an MBA student?

I considered studying the MBA as something I did for myself. I thought of it as a treat – despite all the effort and cost. So, for me, in the work-life balance the MBA counted as life, not work.

And what would be your overall conclusion of the time at the Open University Business School?

Doing the MBA at the OUBS was the best decision in my recent professional life. It gave me the skills and knowledge to become a good manager – which is what I really want to be. It also boosted my career substantially and made me a more attractive job candidate at the age of 50. To invest in myself was a treat and, together with the support of my family, made me feel very special. Studying again after 20 years in business is refreshing and fun, and was very rewarding in every regard.

Thank you very much for this interview

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