Global Business School for Health


MBA Health and other specialised MBAs – What they are and why they’re needed

12 September 2021

Professor Nora Ann Colton, Director of UCL Global Business School for Health (UCL GBSH), discusses the need for specialist MBA's and provides an insight into our own specialist MBA Health.

Man at desk working on a laptop

Why study an MBA?

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is often assumed to be the world’s most popular graduate management degree. As a generalist degree, it provides students with fundamental management knowledge and is therefore offered by countless business schools. Although the MBA has seen a rise and fall in popularity as a preferred business school degree throughout history, it remains a defining business programme for many institutions all around the world. But the world is forever evolving. 

The need for specialist MBAs

In recent years, societies have been undergoing constant change and uncertainty due to demographic shifts, technological change, climate change, and globalisation. The global impact of Covid-19 pandemic has also led to changes in society which have a further effect on higher and business education. As in other major historical epochs, business schools find themselves needing to rethink how they train and educate the next generation of business leaders. 

As more and more business schools are finding that a general MBA in such a complex and shifting world is not enough, they have started offering more specialised MBA courses which focus on providing students with management knowledge in specific sectors, such as an MBA in luxury management, finance, or - as will be offered by the UCL GBSH – an MBA Health. MBA programmes across the world are being reimagined to provide the technical, economic, and financial management methodologies often associated with MBAs while accounting for societal impact and business management professionalism. 

The need for specialised MBAs has never been greater than today. Even before the pandemic, health and healthcare were in the global spotlight: Global healthcare systems are facing gender inequalities, labour shortages, and rising costs, requiring increasing amounts of a country’s GDP – around 10% worldwide and rising to around 18% in the US alone. The transformation of healthcare delivery is needed now. 

The UCL GBSH and MBA Health programme

At UCL, a top ten world-ranked university with a defining edge in health science and medicine, it is not surprising to find that a new Business School for Health has been established with an MBA Health as its flagship programme. 

The UCL GBSH MBA Health programme is designed to strengthen the quality of health and healthcare management in public, private, and not-for-profit organisations (NGOs) around the world by developing the next generation of exceptional leaders. By improving patient outcomes, bringing innovation to healthcare settings, and championing universal access to healthcare, its graduates are due to become indispensable assets in the world of healthcare management.

Why choose the MBA Health 

Health and healthcare are integrated into every business management topic covered on the programme, allowing the MBA Health to stand out amongst other specialised MBA programmes. This ensures a general MBA education with health and healthcare incorporated into the core of the programme which is delivered in clusters where students cover four specific business discipline themes. Additionally, health experts ensure real-world health and healthcare scenarios, and case studies are included to contextualise learning for students. To guarantee an effective multi-disciplinary approach within the programme, each cluster comprises a team of academics and experts from both business management and health professions.

During the MBA Health, students also have the opportunity to work on two experiential learning projects. The Global Health Challenge involves a team health project to find a solution to a health issue in a low or middle-income country, which includes a two-week immersion field experience facilitated by business and health academics. This is important as low and middle-income countries can experience a number of difficulties in healthcare. This project culminates with a group research paper and presentation. The Health Consultant Project is an individual project working directly with an organisation in the public, private, or not-for-profit health sector. Students work with a career coach to find a good fit for their career ambitions and agree on a consultancy report they deliver with their partner organisation.

This programme aims to create MBA Health graduates that contribute to healthcare solutions at the business and societal level while ensuring competent healthcare leaders in health and healthcare organisations. Knowledge and skills afforded to graduates will also allow them to exercise maximum influence in producing and embedding innovation and meaningful change through policies and impact. It would be hard to imagine being able to achieve this through anything less than a specialised MBA.

Find out more about our MBA Health

By Professor Nora Ann Colton, Director of the UCL Global Business School for Health (UCL GBSH)