London Business School’s Full-Time MBA program was ranked best MBA in the World by the Financial Times as recently as 2011.
In this post, I am going to explain what distinguishes LBS from other top Business Schools, and why I had ranked its MBA program among my top options when deciding where to apply just a couple of years ago. In the second part of this story (to be published in a couple of days), I will discuss the school’s application process, which I remember quite vividly, having successfully applied to the class of 2013.
What drew me to London Business School was first and foremost its rather unique MBA format. At LBS, MBA candidates can complete their Master of Business Administration in 15, 18, or 21 months, depending on their personal goals.
Students who are looking for an elite MBA program but want to get back to their professional lives as fast as possible can elect the 15-month program. It offers a richer experience than other elite European programs (such as the 11-month INSEAD and IMD full-time programs), while being a much shorter option than most U.S. MBAs (traditionally 21 months). Do not expect to save much money with the 15-month London Business School MBA however, since tuition is the same for all 3 formats, and London is one of the most expensive cities a student can pick.
For candidates interested in an internship or international opportunities, the 18 or 21 months option are much better choices. An internship is almost a must for career-switchers who want to have a first experience in their field of interest, so adding 3 months to the LBS program may be a worthwhile investment. It is also important to note that LBS students are usually paid very well during their internship (see the career section for details).
The opportunity to study at a top institution abroad for 3 months is another great way for LBS students to expand their network and strengthen their resume while spending time in a different city, discovering a new culture, and possibly learning a new language. London Business School is partnering with 30 top business schools, including HEC Paris, IESE, HKUST, Columbia, Berkley, Kellogg, MIT, Stern, Booth, and Wharton!), and according to the school, “40 per cent of second-year MBA students spend a term abroad”.
Curriculum and Teaching Methods
The LBS curriculum is highly respected for its quality and rigor. It offers an interesting balance between case discussions, lectures and group work, a clear plus for students who believe that some key concepts cannot be properly taught using the case method only. The first year curriculum revolves around 13 core courses, covering business fundamentals such as Corporate Finance, Accounting, Marketing, and Strategy. According to the school however, “suitably qualified students may be able to obtain an exemption (or waiver) from the core courses in Managerial Economics, Financial Accounting, Corporate Finance and Management Accounting”.
Second-year students can take up to 12 electives and specialize in fields consistent with their post-MBA goals. With 70 electives to pick from, the London Business School MBA even allows its students to specialize in a specific field, by taking a concentration in finance, private equity, entrepreneurship, marketing, or strategy.
London Business Schools is known to foster a collaborative environment. As an illustration, in some classes up to 30% of students’ annual grade depends on group work. During their first year, MBA participants are assigned to a study group of 6 people, set for the entire year. Although quite appealing for most, this setup can frustrate a minority of students who end up in dysfunctional work groups.
Finally, like many other European programs, LBS expects MBA students to be at least conversational in a language other than English. Students who need to develop their language skills can join one of the school’s language electives (e.g. French, Spanish, Mandarin, and German).
The student body at LBS is highly diverse. 90% of the 409 students in the class of 2015 are international students, from 69 nationalities. The percentage of female students keeps increasing, at 32% in the class of 2015 (from 28% in the class of 2012).
The average age and experience of enrolled students is higher than those at U.S. MBA programs. London Business School MBA students have 5.5 years of experience on average at the start of the program (average age is 28.6 years). Work experience actually ranges from 2 to 12 years, and older applicants are generally more than welcome, even though the school also offers various executive programs. The key for more experienced candidates is really to demonstrate how the Full-Time MBA format supports their professional goals and why they decided to wait so long before applying, a story they need to articulate much more clearly than younger applicants.
A key reason to consider LBS is the school’s location. London, although quite expensive, is a great city to live in, with a rich cultural environment, an amazing food scene (surprisingly), and a vibrant nightlife. The school itself is ideally located next to Regent Park, one of the most gorgeous parks in London. Upon visiting campus, I remember being amazed by the park’s size and beauty, and its numerous sports facilities, open air theatre, and its… Zoo all situated at the heart of London. I was fascinated to see students engage in a broad variety of outdoor activities, among which Rugby was apparently the most popular. On a side note, rugby is not just a sport at LBS. It is actually an institution.
The Rugby club is the biggest association at the school, and the Windsor pub – where the players usually gather – is almost considered an extension of the business school. If you get to visit campus (e.g. during a drop-in session), make sure that you spend some time at the Windsor Pub to observe the B-school students interact in a casual setting. You’ll be struck by the diversity of the student body, and will realize that the school is a very fun place to learn.
London is one of the most dynamic business places in Europe. A financial hub and the home of many European headquarters, it offers a wealth of career opportunities for MBA grads. Naturally, MBA recruiting powerhouses such as BCG, Bain, and McKinsey, as well banks and PE firms such as Citi, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank regularly hire students from the school. But the biggest names in tech and CPG, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Amex, and J&J also recruit LBS grads in large numbers, as do a wealth of industrial firms.
Students have no trouble finding a job right after graduation: 92% of class 2012 had accepted a job within 3 months of graduation, 70% of which with a new employer (as opposed to their pre-MBA company). A third of graduates end up working in Finance, another third join the ranks of MBA consultants, while the rest of the class goes to corporate roles in tech, CPG, or industry.
For the class of 2012, the median salary was $110k, with an additional $25k sign-on bonus, and a $23k yearly bonus. Summer interns from the class of 2013 earned a median weekly compensation of $1,745. London Business School’s full career report can be found here.
In our next post, we will be covering the London Business School MBA application process. Stay tuned!