Durham University Business School’s full-time MBA has two unusual features. First, following the core courses, students can choose to take one of three “pathways”: Consultancy, Technology, or Entrepreneurship. Each of these is split into two smaller courses, a division the school says creates a far more structured program than the scattergun approach of schools that offer dozens of electives.
The second innovative feature at Durham is that students can choose to take the MBA in 12 or 15 months. Around 70% choose 15 months, using the last three months for an internship or, if they are on the entrepreneurial pathway, to fine-tune a business plan and start trying to land VC money.
DUBS’ full-time MBA has a small cohort, with the most recent consisting of just 46 students, 90% of whom are international and who represented 19 different countries. The average age of the most recent class was 32, because the school is focused on selecting candidates with enough work experience to be able to add to the cohort’s richness — three years is the bare minimum, and they usually look for five. Scholarships for female students have helped boost the number of women on the course. In 2014-2015, the last year for which there is data, 40% of Durham students got jobs in the UK after graduation.
DUBS says that the small class guarantees a personalized MBA experience. Skills workshops can be focuses on individuals’ needs, and each student is assigned both a mentor, who is usually an DUBS graduate, and an academic adviser. Each of the three pathways has an equal number on it, meaning that the class has just 15 students, guaranteeing lots of one-to-one time.
DUBS has been educating managers for over 50 years, the wider university is 180 years old, and the quaint town of Durham has a medieval cathedral, but it is a decidedly modern place which also has a highly regarded online MBA. In common with the most forward-looking schools, successful aspects of the online course — such as industry insight Q&A sessions — are being dovetailed into the full-time course. Also, those on the technology stream share some on-campus courses with online students, widening their network.
Julie Hodges, Associate Dean for MBA Programs
Our full-time MBA is all about putting theory into practice in the global business environment. Our students can do a strategic project in a business, which allows them to use what they have learned in a real-world situation. Many of them then go on to have internships in those companies. Over the past decade we have seen an increasing diversity in our MBA cohort, with people from the profit, non-profit, and public sectors, which adds to the richness of the course and the experiences that can be shared. We also see people finding jobs in a far greater range of sectors than used to be the case.
Patrick Newman, U.S., MBA 2019
I have friends who had been to DUBS and they enjoyed it, so that encouraged me to come here. Also, in the U.S. an MBA would take twice the time and cost twice the price. One of the great things about this course is the international exposure, which I don’t think you’d get on an MBA back home. Of the 47 on the course, three are from the UK and three more from the Western hemisphere. Half are from China; also, two-thirds are women. The benefit of the small class is that you certainly get one-on-one recognition from the professors. I think that back in the U.S. the DUBS name might not be recognized as easily as some other institution, but that doesn’t bother me. I am doing my MBA to increase my own knowledge, not to trade off the name of the university.