What is a B-School?

It is time for you to consider graduate business studies, and you may be wondering, “What is a b-school and how does it differ from a university?” B-school stands for business school, and it refers to any institution that focuses solely on the education of students in various business fields.

What is a business school?

A B-school can be a stand-alone school or it can be affiliated with a university. It can share the same accreditations as a university and even issue the same internationally recognised Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but it differs from a university in several ways.

What is a university?

If you are considering a graduate business degree, one option is a traditional bricks-and-mortar university. Typically with a storied history and a large footprint and influence in a notable “college town”, a university offers courses and confers degrees in nearly every discipline. There are more degree programmes to choose from, and usually more accessibility to those programmes. For example, at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy) there are semester, short-term, undergraduate, graduate, and even double-degree programmes.

At a university, you will be surrounded by more and diverse people. Class sizes are larger, age ranges are wider, and they cater for a wide range of personal and career interests. There is on-site residency in the form of dormitories or other housing, dining halls, and perhaps even a postal network. A university likely has its own sports teams, gymnasiums, Olympic-sized swimming pools, and its own stadiums to host competitions. And expect to find a very large library with great research opportunities, digital access to the latest journals and publications, and a staff ready to help you find what you need.

Social and academic opportunities abound at a university, with clubs and classes of all sorts. Think of a university as a large metropolitan area. You can sleep, work, and play there. You can eat, exercise, and recreate there. Students could conceivably spend most or all of their time at a university without needing to leave the campus.

As far as the quality of education at a university is concerned, you should expect the best. It is possible that not every class will meet those expectations but, on the whole, universities have a long history of attracting the top minds in academia. You can do your research ahead of time and find out where they are strong and where they might have weak spots. For example, some have a strong reputation in business, but not in medicine, or vice versa.

University with a separate B-school

Sometimes a university is so large it makes sense to break off one segment of its academics and have them operate somewhat independently under the umbrella of the university. This is frequently the case in business, where you will find business schools or schools of management often named after a famous alumnus or large donor to the university.

It is mostly larger universities with a strong reputation for business education that have developed a separate B-school, such as the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford (UK). By attending a university with a separate B-school, you will experience all the benefits of a full university along with a very concentrated business programme focused on forward-thinking practices in a traditional setting.

Stand-alone B-schools

A stand-alone B-school is one that is founded specifically to advance business education. No other disciplines are taught, except where they cross over into a business field. They are, for the most part, more career-focused than theory-focused, which is to say there is less emphasis on theoretical applications and more on practical knowledge and skill development.

The European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin is a perfect example of a stand-alone B-school. ESMT calls itself “the business school founded by business” since it was founded by a consortium of businesses and institutions. Its focus is very narrow, so it is able to teach advanced skills with a very practical application in today’s business world.

Independent B-schools are much smaller and typically do not provide a fraction of the social, athletic, or other opportunities of a university. However, this does not mean its budget is smaller, relatively speaking. You may find your stand-alone B-school has facilities and technological equipment that are more modern and advanced than at a university.

There is no doubt that business skills are in high demand in today’s world, as are graduate degrees in any number of business fields such as management, finance, and marketing. Now that you know how B-schools and universities are alike and different, you can choose which suits you better, and that will help you narrow your graduate school selection quite significantly



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