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US Students Must Expect These from studying MBA Abroad

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An MBA abroad can offer a wealth of adventure, cross-cultural learning, and job opportunities. The Graduate Management Admission Council survey found that eight percent of American MBA candidates want to study abroad. The top five countries preferred by them are the United Kingdom (France), Canada, Spain, and Germany.

We spoke to five Americans who studied their MBAs abroad to find out what they can expect.

Immersion in international business

Shalini Chudasama (a recent graduate from London Business School) is an American woman who studied abroad for her MBA.

Shalini was previously employed by Bain & Company, Atlanta, Georgia, where she collaborated with the 65 global offices of Bain in 40 countries. 

LBS provided her with the perfect environment to expand her cross-cultural skills and knowledge. According to LBS, 90% of MBA students come from non-British countries.

Shalini particularly valued that LBS faculty draw upon internationally-focused case studies, broader than what she assumes occurs in US-based MBA programs.

LBS is not a British school of business. It is an international business school located in London.

Business Schools such as IIT Bombay and Washington University in St. Louis has introduced a joint degree executive MBA for working professionals and entrepreneurs.

Where can Americans study?

LBS is a popular destination for American MBAs. According to the school’s press office, approximately 15% of 500 first-year MBA students at LBS are American.

The UK is home to many Americans, including the Said Business School at Oxford University, Imperial College Business School, and the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.

Other schools overseas with large American populations include IESE in Barcelona, ESA also in Barcelona, HEC Paris, and INSEAD. These schools have campuses in Fontainebleau, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.

According to respective press offices, 9-10% of MBA students at IESE are American. Esade has nine percent. HEC Paris has 13 percent.

China was an attractive destination for international MBA students before the COVID-19 epidemic. However, travel restrictions have slowed down the flow of international students.

Professor Shameen Prasantham, director of the MBA program at CEIBS, Shanghai, stated: “While international students have not been able to enter China in more than two years, it has caused serious problems in recruiting students from abroad. We look forward to welcoming them back as soon as we can lift border restrictions.”

Strong global networks allow for international adventure

Americans love the idea of being able to live abroad and have the chance to build a global network. Steven Rodriguez-Cortes, a Puerto Rican native, applied to ESCP School in Paris because he wanted a change from the life he had in Florida, where he was a US Department of Defense contractor.

Steven spent one semester on the school’s Paris campus and the other in London during the 10-month ESCP program. During this time, he also took elective courses at ESCP’s Berlin and Turin locations.

Steven is preparing for graduation and remembers his close network of friends from India, China, India, Belgium, China, and other countries that he formed while at ESCP. He said that this network would be beneficial in the future.

After graduating, he was offered a job in Boston by an employer who is impressed by his knowledge of international business practices. Lucas Scalcione Hahn, an American student in the Rotterdam School of Management’s one-year MBA program, cites the “transformative” experience of his MBA program.

He stated that he grew up in New Jersey, where he was surrounded by people from many cultures. However, they were all Americanized. You meet people from all over the globe when you have an MBA abroad.

RSM reports that 99 percent of the 115 MBA students in 2023’s class are non-nationals. This includes 36 countries. The top-ranked US schools have between 30 and 55 percent non-native students.

Flexible and affordable degrees

Candidates from the United States will be attracted by the lower tuition fees for overseas MBA programs, as well as the possibility of shorter courses that reduce time in the workforce.

Abby Barber, an American with a career in procurement and purchasing in North Carolina before pursuing an MBA, graduated in 2021 from the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management.

Abby, who is now working in California for NBCUniversal, said that earning an MBA abroad was more profitable than in the US.

The current tuition fee at WHU is EUR40.500 (USD $41,270 for a full-time MBA program). The tuition fees for the top US programs range from $125,000-$160,000. This is a substantial increase over WHU’s $125,000-$160,000 one-year tuition.

RSM’s Lucas also mentions the benefits of studying abroad, such as the lower tuition fees for non-US MBA programs. The tuition for RSM’s 1-year program is currently EUR57,000 (USD 58,000).

Internationally, you’re likely to get less. He said that it is a better deal and disrupts your career for a shorter time.

Lucas recognizes the limitations of one-year international programs like RSM’s. This is a problem for anyone who is interested in career pivots.