The Warwick Business School MBA: What You Need To Know
It might not have the glamour of some big cities, but Coventry in England’s West Midlands is home to one of the best-respected and oldest business schools in Europe. Warwick Business School, ranked 43rd in the 2020 Financial Times full-time MBA rankings and fourth in the UK, was the first UK B-school to receive the enviable triple accreditation from AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB.
WBS is flourishing. In 2015 it opened a flashy new building on campus, and recently expanded its 12-month MBA from 70 to 120 students, split across two streams.
WBS prides itself on being practical, and the jewel in the crown of the MBA are 10 “professors of practice” — top-flight business people who have run large companies, but who also have Ph.D.s — who teach alongside academics and give a real-world slant to teaching.
Students rave about the LeadershipPlus module, which involves workshops on “emotional intelligence,” “courageous conversations,” and “leading with authenticity,” followed by a three-month project in a significant business. Recent partners have included Jaguar Land Rover, Vodafone, and Bank of China.
This MBA has real academic rigor to it as well. The culmination of the course is a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which, the school says, will “demonstrate you can integrate your learning from the individual modules into a cohesive whole, taking multiple perspectives on a business issue.”
The core program of eight modules is followed by four electives, chosen from over 50 options. Full-time MBA students share these with Executive and Distance Learning MBAs, which adds networking opportunities.
Overseas electives include courses at the Guanghua School of Management in Beijing and the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration in Rio de Janeiro. In addition, all students get to visit WBS’s exec education outpost in The Shard in London and go on an international visit to either Tongji School of Economics and Management in Shanghai or the Sauder School of Business in Vancouver. (A European partner will soon be added.) The school also takes students on “treks” to businesses such as Williams F1. A new tech focus also involves visits to the European HQs of businesses such as Google and Microsoft in Dublin.
WBS is one of a select group of British universities which gives students a six-month visa on graduation, rather than the standard three, which increases their chances of finding a job in the UK. Typically, 90% of students are international, holding the passports of around 30 countries.
WBS is keen to get more women in its MBA, though the percentage has increased from 25% a few years ago to 35%. Consultancy and the financial services are the most popular destinations for grads.
John Colley, Associate Dean
A good MBA should aim to be relevant to current real-world practice, and one way we do this is with our Professors of Practice, who are incredibly popular with students. The real world is far messier and more interesting than the textbooks would have you believe, and they bring that home.
Employers want leaders with real, practical experience and that is what our MBA aims to produce. To that end, we have increased the innovation and digital elements in the course. We look for ambitious, driven people, but we are very careful not to have too many big egos in the classroom. We strive for diversity in all senses.
Son Kwon, USA, Warwick MBA 2018
A lot of people ask me, “You are an American and there are a lot of good business schools, so why did you go to the UK?” The answer is the international experience. I have worked in America and Asia, so I wanted to get exposure to somewhere new. Also, Warwick is genuinely diverse. In the U.S., lots of people have different backgrounds, but are largely Americanized. Here they genuinely come from other cultures.
I am looking to change professions and I am interested in consultancy, so the strategy modules and the consultancy project appealed to me. Warwick might not have the same recognition as Harvard or Stanford, but I think their brands crowd out an awful lot of great European business schools. I have seen Warwick on a lot of people’s CVs in my industry.
Warwick Business School MBA Rankings Data
WBS Rankings Analysis
Warwick Business School tends to do well in Poets and Quants’ composite ranking-of-rankings, and placed a very creditable fifteenth in the world in the most recent, 2019 list of international (that is, non-US) schools. That is a jump from the previous year, when it fell to 24th, but in line with its position since 2015, when it came 14th before rising to the heights of 12th in 2016 and 2017.
In the Economist’s list WBS ranked fifth of all non-US schools in 2019, down from third in 2018 and fourth in 2017. It fared almost as well in the two preceding years, finishing at sixth both times.
Why does Warwick pace so well in that ranking? Perhaps because the Economist heavily weights “opening new career opportunities”, which accounts for 35% of its total ranking. Because around 90 percent of students on the WBS full-time MBA are international, they tend to do well in terms of new job opportunities — many of them find jobs in the UK or other Western European countries, and the school’s careers service is well geared-up for helping them do so.
“Student assessment of careers service” accounts for about 10 percent of the total Economist ranking. Network (10 percent) and internationalisation (7 percent) also favour UK schools with large numbers of overseas students.
The school fares almost as well in the Forbes list, appearing as the eighth highest-ranked non-US school in 2019, 2016 and 2015, although it dropped to 14th in 2017 and 2018. Forbes’ methodology is extremely simple: return on investment, calculated by comparing alumni’s projected salary increase if they hadn’t taken an MBA, compared to what it is five years after graduation.
Forbes’ ranking has the heaviest weight for international schools in the Poets and Quants composite list, and Warwick does well in Forbes because students tend to come from countries with lower salaries than in the countries where they find jobs. Therefore ROI looks very impressive for Warwick MBAs. A word of warning, though: because Forbes’ ranking is based solely on self-reported salary, it is possible that it suffers from selection bias — are high-earners are more likely to respond?
In the Financial Times’ list, WBS has only ever once broken into the top 20 non-US schools, in 2019, when it peaked at 18th place. In 2020 it fell back slightly to 20th. In previous years it was ranked 22nd, 24th, 27th and 21st. It is dragged down by a relatively low salary-increase rating – which is odd, given its high ROI on the Forbes list.
Warwick’s appearances in the Bloomberg Businessweek ranking — which also takes into account a range of factors, placed it pretty much in line with the FT’s — it came in 23rd and 22nd in 2017 and 2016, and has never appeared in other years. That low ranking is perhaps because Bloomberg weights salary increase heavily — it accounts for almost 40 percent of the ranking — but measures it soon after graduation. The lesson from the rankings seems to be that the longer after graduation salary is measured, the better WBS grads do.