MBA School

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Both are embedded in famous and prestigious universities, but admissions, culture and career outcomes differ
On the face of it, there is more that binds than separates the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. After all, the two universities, both established in the Middle Ages, are often collectively lumped together as ‘Oxbridge.’ One of the biggest challenges faced by applicants considering the two UK schools is looking at them as separate entities.

Both of the MBA programs run for one year and start in September, and offer an internship option in the final semester. Both are embedded in very famous and prestigious universities and are often defined by the collegial systems in place at the universities. The young business schools — Saïd’s precursor was founded in the 1960s; Judge in 1990 — bask in the strong brand associated with the wider institutions.

“Many applicants are attracted by how interconnected the business schools are to the parent university and the college system,” says Stacy Blackman, president of admissions firm Stacy Blackman Consulting. “The college systems at Oxford and Cambridge are a strong selling point for both schools due to the networking opportunities and diverse experience that this provides.”

But scratch beneath the surface and differences begin to appear. Judge has outperformed Saïd in the FT and Economist MBA rankings of the past two years, in part reflecting the higher salary outcomes of the smaller Judge cohort and a greater focus on social enterprise at Saïd, which is known to pay less than more traditional MBA industries like finance.

Oxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: Location

The schools also benefit from close proximity to employers in London, with both located about an hour from the UK capital by train. Cambridge and Oxford are busy and historic university towns. The University of Cambridge has about 21,500 students enrolled (as per 2017 data), whereas the University of Oxford has just under 24,000 enrolled, giving it a larger town feel.

Cambridge has the “Silicon Fen” ecosystem of technology and biotech startups, which continues to be a big draw for students and entrepreneurs. “One of the primary motivations that drove my choice of the Cambridge MBA is its proximity to the Silicon Fen, one of the most important technology centers in Europe,” says Somesh Dwivedi, a Cambridge Judge MBA alumnus who turned down offers from two other schools.

Oxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: MBA cohorts and culture

Both business schools are looking for diverse students, with Saïd typically attracting a higher number of nationalities and Judge drawing from a wide range of sectors, such as the arts.

Some 50 different nationalities are represented in Judge’s MBA cohort, which has an average of six years’ work experience. About 36 percent of the class is female and the average GMAT score is 693. Around half come from finance and consulting, 46 percent from industry and 5 percent from the public and other sectors.

Saïd has 62 nationalities among its cohort, which has on average five years’ professional experience. Some 39 percent of the class is female and the median GMAT is 690.

The school does not publish the industry breakdown of its intake, but a former Saïd admissions officer, who now works for Stacy Blackman Consulting, says: “They tend to attract about 25 percent of their class from finance, 20 percent from consulting, 10 percent from social impact/NGO, and 45 percent from industry, with a strong technology representation.”

Saïd declined to comment for this article.

The school has a significantly larger class with 315 students, compared with only 200 at Judge. “The smaller class size at Judge lends itself to closer collaboration, whilst you’ll get a wider networking base at Oxford,” says Emma Bond, a director at Fortuna Admissions.

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