Damiano Pietroni




United Kingdom




Sep 2018 - May 2020

By Damiano Pietroni

Choosing a College as an Oxford EMBA

Choosing an Oxford College as an Executive MBA student entails considering a number of points.

First, whether the college allows members to book rooms for multiple nights in a row, similarly to how a hotel or bed and breakfast would. This can be researched on the website of each college, and the key point is that not all colleges allow this. Because EMBA students tend to need six to eight days in a row at a time in order to attend Oxford modules, this means that students who are members of colleges that do not allow booking rooms for more than three days in a row for example need to find alternative accommodation.

Second, whether the college is graduate only, or both graduate and undergraduate. The graduate only colleges are St Antony, St Cross, Green Templeton, Campion Hall, Kellogg, Linacre, Nuffield, and Wolfson. The distinction matters in that graduate only colleges may have a different feel to mixed colleges.

Third, the distance from the Oxford Saïd Business School, with Worcester and Nuffield being the closest, and St Hilda’s, St Catherine’s and Lady Margaret being the most distant. That said, Oxford is relatively small, meaning that the longest walk from a college to the Business School is no longer than thirty minutes (and potentially very enjoyable given Oxford’s fine sights).

Fourth, whether the college has some special differentiating characteristic. Examples are: the lake at Worcester College, the private collection of paintings at Christ Church College, and the vast internal courtyard at Brasenose. A good way to learn about the features of each college is to invest some time and research each on the Oxford University website.

The lake at Worcester College

Fifth, whether the college allows tourist visits, and how many tourists visit on average per year. Examples of colleges with very high volumes of tourist visits are Balliol, Trinity, and Christ Church. How many tourists visit matters because at peak hours some colleges may feel like museums, which may or may not be to the liking of a student.

Last, the calendar of events that each college runs. Most colleges have three types of events: formal dinners in the Hall, formal / informal events in the wider grounds of the college, and events outside of the college (in London for example). Picking a college with a good schedule of events is important because the EMBA finishes, but the membership to the College does not, meaning that after graduation the benefits of choosing a college with good events can be experienced over the long term.

Overall, colleges are a meaningful part of the Oxford experience, meaning that time invested in choosing one is well spent. From experience, a good approach to making the decision is to combine online research, advice from friends and family, and an in person visit to Oxford.

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