Tuition – Warwick: £32,460, London: £36,310
Warwick Business school in the UK was recently named the 15th-ranked school for business education in Europe by the Financial Times. That’s a real coup for Warwick, which climbed from 22nd in 2016. Yet it pales in comparison to how highly FT ranks (and has ranked for years) the school’s online MBA program: first in the world, behind only IE Business School of Spain.
Warwick has taken first place in the annual online ranking for two consecutive years–in 2019 and 2018–after being second to IE in 2017. It’s a lofty spot for the school, even on a highly limited ranking that only lists ten programs.
John Colley, Warwick professor of practice in strategy and leadership and associate dean of post-experience masters programs, says the Warwick MBA by Distance Learning benefits from great stats in the most heavily weighted category: salary outcomes. Warwick graduates’ average salary in 2017 is $214,141, a 38% increase over what students were making before leaving the program. That’s the highest salary and second-highest increase of any of the 10 ranked schools in 2019 behind only the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
“At Warwick, our career outcomes are pretty good,” Colley tells Poets&Quants. “That’s very heavily weighted toward salary increase. We do well in increase from before to afterward, and at the level of salary, and those are the main input into that particular ranking which we do very well in.”
FT ranks Warwick’s MBA by Distance Learning fired in the world for “Aims Achieved,” tied with Indiana Kelley’s Kelley Direct program, first in the world for “Career Progress,” third in the world for “International Mobility” — and second in the world for “Value for Money.” Which underlines another thing the Warwick online MBA does well in: reputation. “It has built quite a strong reputation over the years,” Colley says, “and reputation is really pretty important in this business.”
PROGRAM COSTS THE EQUIVALENT OF ABOUT $40,000
The Warwick online program usually takes two to four years to complete; until 2016 the school required three years of study, but now the program can be finished in as little as a year and five months. It has two intakes, in June and January, and it currently costs £15,910 for year one and £16,550 for year two, or £32,460 ($36,550) altogether. You’ll get one live face-to-face module for that price, but if you want more you’ll have to pay more as well: £1,138 for each one taken between January 2020 and July 2020, after which prices continue to rise. There is no additional charge if students extend their studies into a third year, but if they extend into a fourth year, there’s an extension fee of £995 for the January 2020 intake or £1,035 for the June 2020 intake.
The program features 30 teaching hours for each module, 40 hours of guided self-study, and 30 hours of independent self-study. There are two weeks in the first year that a student needs to be on campus for face-to-face teaching and networking: one week in April and one week in September, in which executive-style teaching, lectures, seminars, case studies, group work, site visits, career and personal development support are provided. Students also may study a face-to-face module alongside other MBA students, as one module of this type has been included in their tuition fees. There is no on-campus requirement for second-year students.
Within each of Warwick’s 12 online MBA modules, students are able to join online live webinars; each module has between six and 10. The sessions are all recorded and available for students to watch again at any time during their course.
MODULES, ELECTIVES, FINAL PROJECTS, DISSERTATION
The Warwick Distance Learning MBA has eight required modules: Accounting & Financial Management, Economics of the Business Environment, Marketing, Leadership, Operations Management, Organizational Behavior, Strategic Advantage, and Innovation and Creativity in Organizations. There are four electives, all of which can be studied at a distance and online, or students may choose to do one by face-to-face format, joining the school’s executive MBA or full-time MBA students.
Finally, students must complete a Consultancy Project and a 15,000-word dissertation where they apply their learning to a real-life issue in practice and analyze it from multiple perspectives drawing on the theories and literature encountered in their modules. There are no formally recognized concentrations, but students may choose electives from the same research group and this would be reflected in their transcript.
“We offer a leadership module, a strategy module, an innovation module, all of which are part of the core at Warwick,” Colley says, “as well as the things you would expect to see there, such as economics, marketing, operations. Students select a core module and then they can pick from quite a long list of optional modules — electives. Plus they can do some of their modules overseas. We run a number of the modules overseas, for instance strategy, we run it in a variety of locations such as Vancouver.”
AN APPRECIATION FOR THE CULTURE, FROM AN AMERICAN
Warwick’s Distance Learning MBA is comprised of 33% women faculty, 29% women students, and 69% international students. Ali Smith, who graduates from the program in fall 2017, fits into the latter two of those categories.
Smith, who lives in Boston and works as a product marketing manager in the publishing industry, got her undergraduate degree at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The life-long Bostonite had plenty of schools to choose from in her hometown, which is home to 35 institutions of higher learning where about 150,000 students study. But that was part of the reason she wanted to get away, she tells Poets&Quants.
“Part of the reason why I pursued the program over there: I really appreciate and enjoy the culture,” Smith says. “If I had the right opportunity to pursue work over there, I definitely would pursue it. There are so many universities in Boston and this is where I live and work; the local institutions have a lot of inherent recognition with employers and even colleagues, so it’s a little different when I tell an American that I went to Warwick — they’re like, ‘Is that really how you pronounce it? With the silent w?’ And, ‘Where is it?’ Whereas if I tell an English colleague or European colleague, everyone knows it.”
LOOKING FOR EXPERIENCE THAT WILL ‘OPEN MY PERSPECTIVE’
Smith found out about Warwick from a friend who got into the Distance Learning program. She also had spent some time in the UK, including a year of her undergrad studies, and loved it. Additionally, her then-employer, publisher Wiley & Sons, frequently sent her across the pond for work.
“So circumstantially it made sense for me, but also program-wise,” Smith says. “I was really interested in a program that was really international, and I know a lot of the American programs have a wide representation but a lot of the time students are looking to stay in the U.S., and so I understood from my colleague who had gone through the Warwick program that it was a really cool way to develop a network of people who are working in business all around the world.”
She was also drawn to the blended element of the program: mostly online, but with some opportunities to visit campus. “You spend time in the classroom and meet your classmates’ face to face and your study group and go through lecture in a small group and all that kind of stuff,” Smith says. “And then depending on the modules you take, different courses may have a classroom component.
“It’s not so much that I was looking for business contacts, it was more an experience thing and perspective. Publishing, the field that I work in, can get really insular, and so I felt like this was a great opportunity to make professional contacts to kind of open my perspective.”
Nor was her Americanness an issue — besides getting used to adding a “u” to certain words like color. “Most of the classes, a lot of the examples translate really well,” she says. “The textbooks that we used are usually specifically European editions, but that doesn’t really have a big impact. I never really felt too outsider-y, just because it’s so diverse. And there were a handful of Americans and some Canadians.”
NO ‘OUTSOURCING’ AT WARWICK
Smith says in a video featured on the Warwick website that the format of its Distance Learning program is conducive to all types of learning styles.” She points to the large lecture format with the entire cohort, seminars in smaller groups, and individual group work. “I chose Warwick Business School for two reasons,” she says in the video. “One, I felt the international presence would be phenomenally useful in opening up my perspective. And secondly, the ethos of looking at things differently really resonated with me.”
John Colley suggests that any resonating is a byproduct of the program being run by faculty. With most online MBAs in the UK and elsewhere, he says, the design and execution of the program is “outsourced.” But not at Warwick.
“We have our own platform, all the modules are led by our faculty, and so it is quite deeply informed by current research and run by top-level academics,” he says. “And Warwick is very highly ranked for research as you know.
“We’ve also been at it for about 30 years now, so we have an awful lot of experience and we have very substantial backup operations to run it. These are some of the advantages. We also have a good balance — many people doing online degrees because they can’t give up the work time to do a face-to-face MBA and they want the convenience to do it online.
“Our online learning environment has been greatly enhanced in recent years, allowing students to be fully connected to the whole MBA community, their cohort, students on their module, and students in the small study group through the my.wbs platform. My.wbs houses our teaching materials, interactive spaces and our online classroom: wbsLive. Easy to use, my.wbs enables interaction in lectures, discussions and syndicate groups. It also allows students to test yourself, to access lessons and lecture recordings, submit assignments, and to connect with other students and academics.”