The 10 Best Management Courses and Qualifications

The 10 Best Management Courses and Qualifications

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Regardless of industry or profession, career progression is something that most of us strive for every day; getting strong feedback, impressing the boss and taking on more responsibility are just some of the ways that we try to distinguish ourselves.

But to be taken seriously as a potential leader, employees have to demonstrate that they are suitable candidates for management; this is where the right management qualification can immediately set you apart from the competition.

With a wealth of options to choose from and time and cost to take into account, knowing which scheme offers the best returns could be invaluable; therefore, we’ve created our very own list of some of the more prestigious and sought-after programmes on the market.

So, if you’re ready to take that next pivotal step in your career, read on; these are the best management courses in the world.

1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)

MBA course

Length: Anywhere between 12 months to 5 years

Cost: Fees vary depending on the programme provider and the individual’s eligibility status

Requirements: At least 3-5 years of professional experience

For anyone who’s serious about reaching the upper echelons of corporate management, an MBA is essentially sine qua non. Among the more significant benefits of having a MBA, it provides practical and theoretical leadership knowledge, exposure to valuable networking opportunities and, realistically, a much better chance of breaking into a C-level role.

The time it takes to get an MBA doesn’t have to negatively impact your career, either. There’s many part-time and online MBA study options available that are designed to be flexible; the important thing is to choose a course that best fits your own needs and requirements. If you want to create a more powerful punch on your CV and prefer a more academic approach to the learning process, then an MBA is the perfect solution.

Some of the top MBA providers include:

  • INSEAD (France)
  • Stanford University (USA)
  • Wharton (USA)
  • Harvard University (USA)

2. Project Management Professional (PMP)

PMP course

Length: No set limit

Cost: Fees vary depending on the programme provider and the individual’s eligibility status

Requirements: A secondary degree and 7,500 hours of project leadership experience or a bachelor’s degree and 4,500 hours of project leadership experience

Over the last few decades, nearly every business globally has come to realise the importance of effective project organisation. Unsurprisingly, the demand for capable project management professionals to structure and guide these processes has increased, too.

There’s an array of qualifications on offer from numerous awarding bodies and organisations to meet this demand, but perhaps the most revered and sought-after is the PMP certificate. Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), it is geographically robust and industry-fluid, with the PMI claiming that those with a PMP certificate generally earn 23% higher salaries on average than those without. It’s also one of the cheaper options on this list, with a well-defined learning framework built to be ongoing.

3. Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – Level 5

Leadership Training

Length: Between 1 and 12 months, depending on the depth of award

Cost: Varies depending on course provider (employer may pay)

Requirements: Not specified but aimed at middle-level managers

The UK-based CMI offers management and leadership training at all levels from 1 to 7, but its Level 5 qualification is among the most popular and in-demand. Aimed at middle-level managers, it is intended to bridge the gap between first-line team leadershi and senior management. The focus, therefore, is on core skills such as managing resources, recruitment and information management.

Conveniently, it’s also available as either an award, a certificate or a diploma. Depending on how in-depth you wish to delve and what you wish to get out of the course, you should find an option that suits your level of commitment.

4. Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) – Level 3

Length: Depends upon the individual but seven months on average

Cost: Varies depending on course provider (employer may pay)

Requirements: Not specified but aimed at those with no management experience

If you’re not quite at such an advanced stage and are instead looking to simply get your foot in the management door, then this offering from the ILM is the perfect place to start. Like the CMI’s courses, you can choose to study at award, certificate or diploma level, which again provides flexibility for those who wish to enrol.

As it is a junior course, the core units are built around the fundamental principles of management, with students learning the basics of team leadership, communication and people management, as well as how to take on basic organisational responsibilities. It is widely regarded as the perfect preparation for when you do make that inevitable step up.

5. Certified Management Consultant (CMC)

Length: Depends upon the individual but as little as two months

Cost: $350 for IMC members; $550 for non-members

Requirements: Minimum of three years’ consulting experience and a bachelor’s degree

For those based in the US, the CMC might be a more familiar qualification – especially on the CVs and résumés of senior managers and consultants. Offered by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and recognised in over 50 countries, it’s designed to help differentiate its holders from the competition by subjecting them to rigorous and ongoing assessment.

There are currently three entry streams onto the award, depending on a candidate’s level of experience. Upon completing a written and oral exam, you would then be expected to become an IMC member and renew your certificate annually. While the process may seem abrupt compared to similar schemes, the CMC is nevertheless a highly respected and valuable qualification to hold, especially if you are looking to advance as a management consultant.

6. Master in Management (MIM)

MIM course

Length: Anywhere between 12 months to 5 years

Cost: Fees vary depending on the programme provider and the individual’s eligibility status

Requirements: Ideally a bachelor’s degree, although requirements will vary by provider

If you want to gain a postgraduate degree, but an MBA is not for you, then a MIM course could be just right. The biggest advantage of a postgraduate degree over an MBA is that there is no prerequisite for experience, so you would be able to apply straight after finishing your undergraduate degree. In general, they are considerably cheaper too.

Another bonus is that the curriculum is less rigid, meaning that there is the opportunity to take electives such as psychology, economics or even learn a second language. Students can also use this as an opportunity to tailor their experience to their industry. It’s not just about theory, either; many MIM providers are including an increasing number of practical elements in the tuition, including the development of partnerships with some of the most established companies in the world.

Top MIM providers include:

  • University of St Gallen (Switzerland)
  • HEC Paris School of Management (France)
  • IE Business School, Madrid (Spain)
  • London Business School (UK)

7. Commissioning Course – Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS)

Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS) campus

Length: 44 weeks

Cost: N/A

Requirements: At least two A-Levels or equivalent

Leadership skills aren’t necessarily something that has to be developed in an office or a classroom. As the British Army’s notorious officer training programme proves, the principles of managing people effectively are the same in any environment.

Officer Cadets are taught from day one how to think and communicate as commanders, with a lot of focus on how to take decisive action in difficult circumstances. Training staff are also quick to instil the principles of integrity and selflessness throughout the course. Although you will, of course, have to serve in the military upon graduation, much of what you will learn applies to any management position when (or if) you choose to leave. At the very least, your CV will certainly stand out, with many ex-officers successfully transitioning into corporate management.

Other top military academies include:

  • West Point (USA)
  • Royal Air Force College, Cranwell (UK)
  • United States Naval Academy (USA)
  • École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr (France)


8. Internal Company Training Programmes

Internal Company Training Programme

Length: Varies by company

Cost: N/A

Requirements: Varies by company

If you’re not keen on paying for your own certification, or the prospect of attending evening classes isn’t a viable option, there is one alternative: learn on the job at the company’s expense!

With apprenticeships and designated graduate programmes offering companies access to a vast pool of talent, many organisations are now looking to go one step further and fast-track entry-level employees who show the willingness and the potential to succeed in management. Often referred to as trainees, there are opportunities across several industries where this concept is gaining traction, including construction, hospitality and the public sector.

Indeed, some companies’ training and development programmes are so prestigious in their own right that they are almost as valuable as an external qualification. For example, there’s an unusually high number of consultants at McKinsey who go on to become C-level executives or even CEOs – a phenomenon that is attributed to the exceptional levels of management and consultancy training that staff receive there.

Meanwhile, other top management trainee programmes can be found at:

  • Marriott Hotels
  • Amazon
  • General Electric
  • Microsoft
  • Enterprise

9. Fundamentals of Management – University of California, Irvine

Fundamentals of Management - University of California

Length: Six hours

Cost: Free access with a fee-based certificate

Requirements: Not specified but aimed at new managers and emerging professionals

In this economy, young professionals are taking whatever opportunity is thrown their way, even if they think they’re not prepared for the challenge. Many millennials and Gen Z’s are being tossed into managerial positions. This is new territory for a lot of young folks, and it can be a daunting task.

The University of California, Irvine, offers a Fundamentals of Management course, which aims to help participants transition to business management. The course concentrates on four elementary concepts of managing, including planning, skills, styles and the difference between managers and leaders. During the course, you will have access to video lectures, reading material and quizzes.

10. The Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Managing People at Work – University of London

University of London - managing people at work course

Length: Four weeks

Cost: Free access with a fee-based certificate

Requirements: Not specified but aimed at experienced managers and team leaders

Whether you’re an advanced student currently finishing up university or you are a young professional who has been offered a chance at managing, this is a course worth considering. 

The University of London offers a four-week crash course in business management. This course can enhance your qualifications exponentially as it covers the everyday aspects of this role, from conflict management to employee selection to general leadership skills. Ultimately, you will be given necessary managerial resources, and you will have the opportunity to apply your critical thinking skills to your working life.

While this might not be a postgraduate diploma, you will learn valuable lessons that you can then transfer and apply within your career.

As you can see, there are several ways in which you can hone and develop your management skills, regardless of if you’re a brand-new hire or if you’ve been leading teams for decades; the key is to never stop developing, as there is always something new to learn.

If you can gain these qualifications and put what you’ve learned into practice, then your CV, your bank balance and – most importantly – your people will all reap the benefits.

What management qualifications do you think are the most valuable? Let us know in the comments section below.


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 24 August 2018 and contains contributions from Andrew Moran.

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