Few people are aware that South Africa was home to the first MBA outside of the US. The Graduate School of Management at the University of Pretoria (GSM) was founded in 1949 and two years later 25 graduates received their MBA degrees - the first to be awarded by a non-American university. The GSM joins other local business schools with a rich MBA history.
World-class institutions, at the cutting-edge of research, stretch across the country, from scenic Cape Town to vibrant Johannesburg, where the pace is relentless.
A wide variety of MBA options, tailored to individuals with specific needs or circumstances, is available.
Full-time MBA programmes are common and have proved to be particularly popular with international students, while those who prefer to continue working while they study have a number of part-time programmes to choose from. Other options include modular, supported distance-learning and Internet-based MBAs.
The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business offers an Executive MBA, which is designed to meet the needs of current and emerging business leaders. Ailsa Stewart-Smith, EMBA director, says the programme "places emphasis on the value and application of experience and how academic content can develop the decision-making ability of people with significant work challenges and responsibilities."
Depending on the option selected, the duration of programmes can vary from one to five years.
Having developed a global reputation for innovation and a hands-on approach to MBA education, South African institutions offer real-world learning firmly rooted in the business sector.
MBA programmes are geared toward the fundamental aspects of business while allowing specialisation through a range of electives. Globalisation, project management, information technology and ethics are subjects that have received a great deal of attention and form part of curricula that have been benchmarked against international standards.
Some business schools have introduced programmes that target specific niche markets.
The University of the Free State School of Management offers an MBA in health care management, and the Management College of South Africa prepares students for a career in tourism management.
A cornerstone of many South African MBA programmes is the ability to provide an overall learning experience and students graduate with a solid grounding in both practice and theory.
"An MBA is more than just a qualification - it is a life-changing experience," says Elspeth Donovan, former MBA Director at UCT's Graduate School of Business.- MBA.co.za