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The world's most flexible MBA

We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MBA at London Business School. On the following pages, you can find a wealth of information on the development of the MBA; a film featuring an alumnus from the original class meeting a current student; faculty commentary on the very first curriculum; and profiles and advice from our alumni. Discover how far the programme has come over the last 50 years.


Masters in business

With British industry in decline, London Business School (LBS) opens with the aim of professionalising the country’s management. The School believes its two-year Master of Science (MSc) in Business Studies degree programme will have the greatest impact on British management standards. The first class begins in September 1966 – made up of 35 men and one woman – and graduates in 1968 with an MSc.

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Britain and beyond

The British economy takes a nosedive as inflation soars, unemployment rises and interest rates increase. A series of strikes affect the country’s energy supplies and reduce companies to a three-day working week. The economic woes only serve to justify the cause of LBS, however, with over half of its masters graduates going into industry. Meanwhile, the class size increases to 100, the proportion of non-British masters students rises to around 25% and the number of women climbs to 24%.

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Financial times

Banking and finance take over from manufacturing as the prime destination for leaving graduates for the first time since the start of the School’s Masters Programme. The opportunities in the sector increase after the ‘Big Bang’ deregulation of the UK’s financial market in 1986. The School claims its programme is among the most international in the world, both in outlook and composition, and by the end of the decade about half the students in the class of 180 are non-British, with 30 different nationalities represented. Members of the Class of 1987 are the first to be awarded an MBA rather than an MSc.

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Keeping pace with change

As the era of globalisation takes hold, the MBA programme is revised to make it more flexible, international and integrated, with increased training in ‘soft skills’ and the introduction of computer-based management simulation games. Electives focus on emerging issues such as environmental economics, operations in Eastern Europe, new venture development and information technology. The class size increases to 271 students, with 79% from outside the UK. Consultancy emerges as the destination of choice for graduates, vying with finance for the top spot as manufacturing shrinks to just 11%, behind service industries.


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World leader

A decade of economic growth is framed by two economic crises: the dotcom crunch of 2000 and the global financial crisis of 2007/8, presenting an uncertain environment for business. In 2009, LBS becomes the first non-US business school to top the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings and is recognised as one of the world’s most internationally diverse business schools. The MBA programme is made more flexible, allowing it to be completed in 15 to 21 months, coupled with an increased focus on skills development. By 2009, the class size has increased to 315, with 89% of the class from 59 different countries outside the UK. Women make up 23% of the class.

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Growing ambitions

With business leaders facing turbulence in everything from GDP growth to commodity prices to technological change, business training is needed more than ever. The MBA programme is revised to give students greater freedom to tailor the programme to meet their individual needs. The School continues to expand, with an incoming class of 468 planned for 2018 – 12 times the size of the first class of 1968. Women make up 39% of MBA students, while 77 different nationalities are represented across the two classes. Alumni have contributed to the School’s largest ever fundraising campaign, providing the buildings it needs to continue with its original mission – although, 50 years on, its remit clearly extends beyond Britain... to the world.

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