Chris Croft's Personal Blog

January 16, 2013

Upgrading a Diploma to an MBA

Filed under: Accredited Courses and Training, Careers — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 5:45 pm

I often get asked “Can I upgrade my level 7 Diploma to an MBA at some future point? “

MBAs are level 8.
(By the way, there is no level 6!)

Only Universities can award MBAs.
A part time MBA usually consists of three years, the first year being effectively a CMS, and the first two years being a DMS.
Some Universities will let a person with a DMS miss out the first two years of the MBA and join for the final year. Add one year to your DMS and you get an MBA. This is sensible since the DMS is exactly the same syllabus as the first two years of an MBA.

But many universities won’t accept anybody else’s year 1 or 2, saying you have to start again because their syllabus is different. Some also claim that all three of their MBA years are at level 8. But if you look at the subjects covered you will see that it looks very similar to your DMS!

But that is their loss, since we have enough friendly Universities to be able to provide you with a route to gaining an MBA without repeating everything.

Final bits of confusion…
The CMI (Chartered Management Institute) are sometimes confused with CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing), and the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and the ILM can be confused with IPM (Institute of Personnel Management) – these are professional HR organisations, HR being one of the areas you will study on your DMS.

CATS points: this stands for Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, and the idea is that qualifications give you points which count towards exemptions when you start another qualification. We had hoped that these would allow our students to join any MBA programme half way through, but the reality is that many MBA courses don’t recognise CATS points, FE College courses don’t count towards CATS, the points have to be at the same level (and MBAs may or may not be at level 8, see above) and all applications are subject to interviews anyway – basically the whole thing is a mess and CATS points are virtually irrelevant.

The only thing that matters is “Can we get you onto the final year of an MBA?” and the answer is yes we can.


The following is what we have done so far, but it’s always changing, and if anyone knows of new MBA routes then please let me know, or if any of the ones listed have now closed I’d like to keep this blog up to date. Thanks for any help!

Ideally you can use your DMS to exempt yourself from the first 2 years of a part time MBA, and just do the final year.

This would involve a year of part time study, mostly at distance, and probably a cost of about £5,000 (depends on the university) which you will probably have to pay yourself.

But an MBA is a good thing to have on your CV, and all the evidence is that the investment pays back.

An MBA would benefit both you and the organisation you work for, since it will give you a more strategic view.

Longer term I would like to get accredited to be able to teach an MBA year, but at the moment we have to live with transferring people to a university near them – still not bad.

Of course, universities won’t guarantee you a place on their course, you’ll still have to apply with an application form, and maybe be interviewed. But of course they are quite interested in your 5k, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get a place…

Back in 2006 we finally got Sunderland, a proper UK university, to agree that our DMS counts as the first two years of an MBA, so you jsut have to do the final year of their MBA to get the ultimate management qualification. You can do it in your spare time while doing a normal job, it takes a year, it’s distance learning so it doesn’t matter where you live, and it costed £3,500. Probably gone up since, but still great value.

More info on the Sunderland Uni top up MBA

We also have our first person enrolled at London Met (well done Roni!!)
The course admin is Nicholas Scott and leader, his boss Kate Cooper. or
The fees are about £4500 and with DMS you get straight onto stage two, so can be completed in one year.

Northampton Uni also has a top up MBA which costs about £3500
also this;jsessionid=62303d59d832$AD$F8$D?keyword=mba&type=Course&action=showdetails&offset=10&2waynocompress=1&id=46273

We have also had one of our Diploma students doing an MBA top up at London South Bank University.

There’s a list of participating Universities here on the Edexcel (BTEC) site

And the most recent addition is this:

Big thanks to Peter Rose who just got in touch with me about his MBA
He did the level 7 Diploma with me and then upgraded to an MBA with one year at the University of Wales / UWIC / Cardiff Metropolitan
Distance Learning do you can it from wherever you live
No exams
£2500 – the cheapest MBA you’ll ever yet, I reckon!

I had a quick google and found this
The price is a little higher, I’m not sure if it’s the distance learning option, it looks like “on campus”, and it’s for the whole course rather than just the dissertation part
but importantly it shows (item 6) that the BTEC level 7 DMS does indeed give you entry to the last bit of the course

It says:
“If you have a suitable Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management which has been approved by the school, you can apply for direct entry to the dissertation phase of the MBA either on-campus or via our distance learning programme”.   Sounds good!


That’s everything I know – I hope it helps anyone out there who wants to advance themselves.





  1. HI Chris, My DMS is 20 years old now, Northampton sate that is should not be more that 10 years old……… you think this will be a problem?

    Comment by Val — October 1, 2013 @ 3:29 am

    • Not sure – individual universities will negotiate depending on how much they need the money! Certainly no harm in asking. they might ask you to do a short top up module, which I suppose wouldn’t be the end of the world…. good luck! Let me know how you get on!

      Comment by chriscroft — December 22, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    • You’ll have to aske them. Not sounding good though…!

      Comment by chriscroft — September 1, 2015 @ 4:46 pm

  2. Chris, my DMS was completed at Blackburn College. I am hoping that this will allow me on the the MBA year 3.


    Comment by Mike — September 1, 2015 @ 2:58 pm

    • It will depend on where I buy I dead

      But what I do know is that every university is different, so you will have to just ask the university if they will let you have and exemptions
      Good luck!

      Comment by chriscroft — September 1, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

  3. Chris

    Really useful information.

    Are we referring to a level 7 diploma (I’ve just completed one, for 39 credits) , or an ‘extended’ level 7 diploma (66 credits)?

    I’m assuming the diploma only gets you onto year 2 but I’m wondering if the extended diploma gets you onto year 3 (in theory!).



    Comment by Clive Barnett — November 7, 2016 @ 10:23 am

    • It’s the normal diploma not the extended one. The normal one gets you one year exemption. I don’t know about the extended Diploma (you’d be mad to do that one!) but I suspect no more exemption would be given since the second year is a whole lot of different material from any diploma. But it’s all negotiable with the particular university – there are no rules! (Which of course is a shambles, but there we are…)

      Comment by chriscroft — November 7, 2016 @ 11:33 am

  4. Hey Chris ,
    My BSc and MSc is in software engineering and my education background is not related to Business or management at all .But i have proper work experience to get accepted for MBA .do you think i can apply for the MBA Top up (90 credits ) program in Sunderland uni and can get a proper MBA???? so sorry this top up idea is very new for me .

    Comment by Nardos — November 8, 2016 @ 2:23 pm

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