MBA Managing International Organisations

Learn how to apply responsible leadership in an international development context

  • Blended
  • Course
  • Fees
  • Structure & Content
  • Learning Philosophy
  • Admission Requirements
Course Overview
Course starts Beginning of 2022
Application closes 15 Nov (SA and international) | 31 Oct (RPL)

The MBA focal area in Managing International Organisations (MIO) equips students with the tools, theories and frameworks to lead successfully in international development organisations that play a fundamental role in shaping the trajectory of global sustainable development at the interface of international politics, business and society.

International development organisations include the UN and its specialised agencies (like the World Health Organization, World Tourism Organization and International Fund for Agricultural Development), global organisations like the World Bank, Red Cross, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the African Union, the World Economic Forum, the International Labour Organisation, and the broad spectrum of global philanthropic foundations. It also includes organisations working in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) contexts, such as the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment and the Global Reporting Initiative, and organisations with global sustainability agendas.

The stream-specific modules of the MBA MIO, which are offered during the second year of enrolment, will enable students to integrate and apply their learning from the MBA core modules within the context of international organisations. Some of these lectures will be presented by senior UN leaders from the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) who have co-designed the MBA MIO with USB.

If you are looking for a meaningful career at an international development organisation, USB’s MBA MIO will stand you in good stead.

  • Duration: 2 years (class programme and research assignment)
  • Format for Year 1: Choose between the modular format (in-class experience – blocks of classes spread over the year) and the blended learning format (digital class attendance) for the core modules of the generalist MBA during your first year. This means you can study while you work.
  • Format for stream-specific modules in Year 2: The specialisation modules during your second year are presented in blended learning format. Digital class attendance means minimum time away from work. See how blended learning works at USB.

These are the dates for 2021. The dates for 2022 will be added once they have been finalised.


Application deadlines

  • South African applicants: 15 November each year (SHL and application deadline)
  • RPL applicants: 31 October each year
  • Applicants from (visa-exempt) SADC countries: 15 November each year
  • Applicants from rest of world: 15 November each year

5 blocks
Block 1
01 – 06 February
Block 2
08 – 13 March
Block 3
24 – 29 May
Block 4
16 - 21 August
Block 5
25 - 30 October

These are the dates for 2021. The dates for 2022 will be added once they have been finalised.

Programme tuition fees for 2021

Students from South Africa 2021 2022 Total Provisional Quote
MBA Modular (excludes ISM)** R141 280 R137 200 R278 480 Download
Students from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries
MBA Modular (excludes ISM)** R145 780* R141 700* R287 480* Download
Students from the rest of Africa (non-SADC)
MBA Modular (excludes ISM)** R150 810* R146 730* R297 450* Download
Students from the rest of world
MBA Modular (excludes ISM)** R214 210* R146 730* R360 940* Download
Deposit payable on acceptance of admission (blended) for 2021
Students from South Africa R21 740
Students from SADC countries R72 890*
International students from the rest of Africa (non-SADC) R75 405*
International students from the rest of the world R107 105*
Application fee and SHL tests for 2022
Application fee (non-refundable; applicable to all MBA students) R1 050
SHL selection test fee R2 950
GMAT selection test fee $250

*Provisional international fees for 2021.

**Fees exclude our compulsory International Study module of $5900 invoiced in year two.




  • Year 1: Students who want to specialise in Managing International Organisations start with either the Modular MBA (blocks of classes spread over the year) or Blended Learning MBA (orientation block plus weekly classes online or on campus).
  • Year 2: During their specialisation year, MBA MIO students attend one on-campus block at the beginning of the year, followed by Blended Learning classes on Tuesdays (16:00 – 20:20) and one on-campus electives block towards the end of the year.

Core modules

Year 1: Core Modules

Accounting for Decision-making

Business Communication

Business in Society

Contemporary Decision-Making

Digital Enterprise Management

Economics for Managers

Organisational Behaviour

Strategic Analysis

Managerial Accounting

Managerial Statistics

Operational Excellence

Strategic Management

Strategic Marketing and Branding


Year 2: Stream-specific Core Modules

International Organisations Leadership

Diplomacy in Complex Systems

Finance for Development


Electives are only applicable in year 2. You can choose 2 electives:

  • MIO electives (focused on topics that deal with the management and operational complexities involved in achieving sustainable results in the work of the United Nations and similar international organisations)
  • Electives from USB’s generalist MBA

Research assignment

You need to compile a research assignment of between 50 and 70 pages on a management-related problem in your work environment or specialisation. The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate how you can address business challenges through a robust research process. This experience will also give you the ability to make a value judgement on research presented at managerial level in the workplace.

USB’s MBA degree aims to develop you into a responsible leader, expert decision maker, strategic thinker, effective communicator and steward of society.

Our MBA is rigorous, as can be expected from a programme with three international accreditations. It balances solid quantitative modules with personal development and leadership skills. Management tools and techniques from disciplines such as strategic management, economics, operations, finance and marketing are important core competencies of the MBA graduate. This is balanced by competencies such as responsible leadership, communication and understanding the role of business in society in order to develop the skills of adaptability, flexibility, self-awareness and contextual awareness – all of which are in high demand in the business environment.

One of the key differentiators of USB’s MBA degree is the Leadership Module which focuses on responsible leadership and allows you to develop your own authentic leadership style. The International Study Module at a foreign business school offers you a global perspective that supports the other elements of this course. Collaborative learning – where students learn from each other – is a key feature of the USB MBA degree. The unique knowledge from each student adds depth to collaborative learning.

Our MBA provides you with a transformative learning experience to acquire the leadership skills, thinking frameworks and capabilities you need to find your way forward – regardless of whether you see your future self in an executive, managerial, specialist or entrepreneurial position.

This is what you need to apply for an MBA at USB:

Academic qualifications
The South African Council on Higher Education requires MBA applicants to have one of the following qualifications:

  • 4-year Bachelor’s degree (NQF level 8), OR
  • Honours/Postgraduate degree (NQF level 8), OR
  • 3-year Bachelor’s degree (NQF level 7) plus a postgraduate diploma (NQF level 8)


  • International students require a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) evaluation certificate to evaluate their degrees according to South African standards. USB’s International Affairs Office will handle the credential evaluations of international students free of charge. You therefore need to complete the online application, and upload all certificates to your application. The International Office will, as part of the application process, conduct an in-house credential evaluation after you have submitted your application.
  • All degrees undergo a formal vetting process to eliminate fraudulent applications.

Other requirements

  • At least 3 years of relevant full-time working experience, preferably on managerial level
  • Mathematics at NSC (Grade 12) level or equivalent is highly recommended
  • A comprehensive CV
  • 2 essays, showing the candidate’s level of motivation and working experience (see below)
  • Satisfactory selection test results (see below)
  • Additional requirement for students enrolling for the MBA stream in Project Management: A Project Management course on NQF level 8, for which credits can be considered in respect of required electives

Recognition of Prior Learning

USB provides wider access to its programmes through its Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process. In line with the requirements of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), USB may admit up to 10% of its student body under RPL. Candidates who wish to be admitted under the RPL policy will firstly have to submit all the documentation and tests as required for all prospective students. In addition, prospective MBA students under the RPL policy have to adhere to the following:

  • Have at least an NQF 6 qualification (all school and academic certificates are required).
  • Exemption to this rule is available for outstanding applicants who hold a Senior Certificate (NQF 4) and who have provided evidence of high performance and likely success on the MBA through admission selection scores that are at least 20% higher than the average scores achieved by USB MBA students (currently SHL score > 7; GMAT score > 650) and relevant work experience of 10 years. The approval for
    such RPL candidates requires the head of the department’s support in addition to the RPL Committee’s decision on the application.
  • Have at least SIX years of working experience after obtaining the qualification mentioned in the first bullet point, of which at least THREE years should have been in a management or a related professional position.
  • Submit a comprehensive CV, indicating, in detail, areas of responsibility in the work environment as well as activities outside the work environment.
  • Provide USB with at least two referents who can testify about the candidate’s managerial or related professional abilities (typically current or former line managers). The referents will be asked to give a detailed personal reference of the candidate on forms that can be download under the guideline documents in the application form.
  • Submit the SHL/GMAT selection test results.
  • Write and submit two motivational essays (specific topics are provided).
  • Conduct an in-depth interview with the Head of the MBA programme and one other USB academic staff member constituting the RPL Committee.

The RPL selection process entails the following:

  • The programme head and another academic will conduct an in-depth interview with the candidate and make a recommendation about admission.
  • USB’s Admissions Committee will consider the full application including the interview recommendation and the inputs received from the references for admission.
  • A notice of admission is sent via USB’s Academic Planning Committee to the Board of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences for notification.
  • Important: RPL candidates need to apply by 31 October of each year to allow sufficient time for the assessment process.

SHL selection test
 The SHL consists of a verbal critical reasoning assessment, numerical critical reasoning assessment, inductive reasoning test and the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) that focuses on behavioural preferences.

  • Duration: Approximately 3 hours. No preparation is required beforehand.
  • When and where: Applicants need to arrange with USB to do the test online. A link will be sent to you once you have paid the relevant fees. The SHL test is done online from wherever you have internet access. (The SHL selection test is done without supervision although random security tests will be required.)
  • Cost: You can only take the SHL test once you have started your electronic application process because you will need a provisional student number for payments and for the SHL reports (which will be linked to your electronic application). This means you need to pay the SHL selection test fee plus the MBA application fee (in order to obtain a provisional student number). For fees, please see See bank details under How to applyand use your provisional student number as a reference.
  • Book: Contact USB on telephone 021 918 4239 or e-mail [email protected]
  • Additional information: Go to com.

Note: Your SHL test results form part of your application package. The results must therefore be available to the USB Admissions Office before the closing date for applications.

Prof Arnold Smit

Prof Arnold Smit’s teaching and research focus on the contextualisation and integration of ethics, responsibility and sustainability in management education and organisational practice. His fields of expertise include responsible leadership, corporate sustainability, multi-stakeholder process facilitation and spirituality. He holds an Honours in Philosophy and Doctoral degree in Theology from Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the Board of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), the PRME Advisory Committee, and USB-ED’s International Advisory Board. He is also head of USB’s Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Development.

Programme Ambassadors

These programme ambassadors are current students and alumni who support prospective students in their new stage of life and share their personal experience about studying at USB.

Find the perfect course for you


  • Who should enrol?
  • What will you gain?
  • Professionals or managers working in international organisations, development agencies, and foundations or NGOs, and who want to fast-track their careers
  • Managers from private and public sector institutions who want to expand their cross-sector agility, especially by improving their skills for leadership in complex and conflict-ridden multi-stakeholder contexts
  • Professionals who want to transition to working in international development organisations or in organisations with a strong environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) agenda
  1. Responsible leadership skills: You will explore personal, relationship and organisational or strategic leadership, ultimately leading to organisational performance. This bespoke journey spans the entire MBA.
  2. The ability to operate on senior management level: You will gain an astute understanding of all aspects of business, enabling you to operate at senior management level in any industry. You will know how to design and implement strategies, solve complex problems, operate in a global environment, and understand the role of business in society.
  3. The ability to function globally: The competencies acquired can be applied in any industry and in any country. You will also attend an International Study Module at an international business school and touch base with global companies.
  4. Expert decision-making skills: You will acquire decision-making skills based on a combination of numeric methods and qualitative techniques. This will enable you to analyse and contextualise information, and to support complex business decisions.
  5. Strategic thinking: You will learn how to analyse a business environment and to formulate suitable strategies or strategic solutions. You will also learn how to apply cross-cultural skills and a global understanding in your business interactions.
  6. An understanding of the interlinked roles of organisational departments: This will allow you to manage across functional areas, gain insight into the workings of the organisation and make well-informed decisions.
  7. Domain expertise in the management of international organisations: This knowledge will enable you to lead in international development organisations that play a fundamental role in shaping the trajectory of sustainable development at the interface of international politics, business and society.

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