The hubbub of London – the UK’s pulsing economic heart – or Oxford, a preserve of history, and home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world? Choosing between studying an executive MBA at London Business School and Oxford University's Saïd Business School (Oxford Saïd) may be as much about location as the quality of each schools' academic programs.
In the QS Global 100 EMBA Rankings by Region 2017, Saïd Business School topped the leaderboard to take first place in Europe, with London Business School striding confidently into second position. The executive MBA programs offered by each school plainly have strong credentials, but what sets their courses apart?
This article leans on QS’s ranking results to compare Saïd Business School and London Business School' s executive MBA programs. Before that, however, here's a look at each institution’s geographical context.
Oxford and London: Will location determine your choice of executive MBA?
Oxford Saïd is a modern building that finds itself nestled in the middle of a city steeped in history. The school carries the prestige of the Oxford University name, enrolling Oxford undergraduates, as well as master's and MBA-level students. While a walk around the city center presents something of a history lesson, Oxford is also becoming increasingly known for its digital innovation. Begbroke Science Park, for example, is a modern facility managed by the university, and plays host to researchers and over thirty high-tech companies. A review of the business school's most notable alumni gives an idea of how some MBA students bridge their interests at Oxford Saïd. Seven Olympic rowers are listed, two of whom are the Winklevoss brothers, both world-famous athletes andrenowned internet entrepreneurs.
An hour and thirty minutes’ commute south of Oxford lies London, and parked in the thick of the city, next to Regent's Park is London Business School (LBS). London is immersed in its own history, much as old as Oxford's, but larger in scale. Home to a veritable melting pot of nine million people, London is an economic powerhouse and innovation center, a travel hub and a magnet for tourism. The financial sector predominates, followed by the technology, creative, media and manufacturing industries, all of which lie in close proximity to LBS, giving its executive MBA students easy access to the doors of big industry players and alumni.
The executive MBA programs - where the schools outscore eachother
Two scores that combine to account for 50% of the ranking weighting in QS’s assessment of executive MBA programs stem from global surveys of employers and academics. In both of these surveys, London Business School outperforms Oxford Saïd. This means that LBS is ranked higher for employability by employers, and placed higher by academics for research excellence - an important achievement.
Salary uplift, however, seems to be a key factor in determining Saïd Business School's overall positon at the helm of the final regional rankings table for Europe. An executive MBA graduate from Oxford Saïd will, on average, achieve a 45% increase in what they were earning prior to the degree, three months post-graduation. Executive MBA graduates from London Business School, by contrast, receive an average salary uplift of 33% - a tangible difference many EMBA candidates will likely pay heed to.
Additional criteria that have helped place Saïd Business School in first place are the diversity and seniority of its executive MBA class. Students from outside of the UK are said to account for almost 80% among a class made up of 67 people in 2017. A third of the class, meanwhile, are female students and the average work experience held by the class as a whole is 14 years.
London Business School’s latest EMBA class (the class of 2018) is the exact same size as Oxford’s with 67 members and has a similar level of international diversity – 72% hold non-UK nationalities. LBS does, however, have fewer female students than Oxford at this present moment in time – 17% of the latest EMBA class at LBS are female. The prior work experience average also amounts to less than that seen at Oxford Saïd, at 12 years.
Practical differences between the programs at LBS and Saïd Business School
Not mentioned as of yet is the total outlay for these two prestigious executive MBA programs. Prospective students considering Oxford Saïd’s EMBA program (for September 2017 enrolment) will have to set aside £75,642 (c. US$95k) to pay for the course. London Business School is offering their EMBA program at the slightly higher price of £78,250 (c. US$98k) for those starting this fall (autumn).
At both Saïd Business School and London Business School, classes can begin in either January or September. Oxford Saïd's program is one month longer than LBS’s, taking 21 months in total to complete. As is typical with EMBA formats, classes at both institutions are modular. Oxford Saïd offers 16 separate week-long blocks of classes. LBS chooses to teach its program on alternate weekends in London (or monthly for those studying at the business school's campus in Dubai).
Both universities offer a set number of core EMBA courses, as well as giving students a broad range of electives to hone expertise. Saïd Business School, perhaps to reflect and put emphasis on its international outlook, currently runs two compulsory modules in India and China, as well as electives in Silicon Valley and Cape Town. London Business School, meanwhile, runs a compulsory 'Global Business Assignment' from which students currently have a choice of five locations: Moscow, Argentina, Dubai, Beijing or South Africa.