Going International: Why Getting an MBA Abroad is a Smart Ch

by Vault Education Editors | May 06, 2009

  • My Vault

According to an MBA Career Services Councilsurvey, 56 percent of United States business schools experienced anover 10 percent drop in full-time recruiting in winter 2009; and 46percent reported an over 10 percent drop in the number of full-timeoffers. Across the board, top business schools reported a decline inthe number of soon-to-be graduates with job offers--at the TepperSchool of Business, for instance, about 20 percent fewer second-yearstudents have job offers now than they did at the same time last year.For prospective students who have their heart set on earning an MBA,are there any other options?

Yes. My advice? Go international. More and more,affording an MBA and landing a post-MBA job looks more viable abroadthan in the U.S. And prospective students have taken note: Europeanbusiness schools have already seen a surge in applications in the2008-2009 admissions cycle--so far, an increase of one-third from lastyear. First, top international business schools are cheaper than theirU.S. counterparts--and you are still eligible for the GMAC-inspiredpilot loan program, as long as you don't study at home. Tuition isoften up to $30,000 less for an international program. And businessschools outside the U.S. aren't just for non-U.S. students. Today, The Wall Street Journalreports an increase in U.S. students looking internationally for theirbusiness education. Says C. Todd Lombardo, who will be attending the IEBusiness School in the fall, "When you compare it dime-for-dime ... youare getting an MBA degree for half the cost." Most international MBAprograms are 10 to 16 months, so you're only paying tuition for oneyear. In addition, because you're out of work for less time, theopportunity cost is lower. You'll have more time to recoup yourexpenses and pay off your loans simply because you return to workforcesooner.

Cost isn't the only thing enticing students.Employment prospects for graduates of international programs are simplybetter than for U.S. MBAs. International programs have recruitingrelationships with companies with international locations and nostimulus strings. London Business School, INSEAD and IE Business Schoolare among the top schools in Europe, for example, and graduates ofthose programs regularly find jobs across the continent. Frank Brown,dean of INSEAD, tells WSJ that "The job market isn't greatanywhere, but it's relatively better in Asia and the Middle East." Andfor a U.S. student looking to broaden his or her horizons and pursue acareer abroad, earning an MBA outside the U.S. is the perfecttransition. According to Oxford Said Business School's MBA programdirector, Christopher McKenna, "One signal of [your internationalaspirations] to employers is that you are willing to get your degree inanother country."

Moreover, because finance and consulting are notthe MBA-feeders abroad that they are in the U.S., there is a widerrange of options, in healthier industries, available for internationalMBA graduates. Students coming from finance and consulting backgroundsare finding jobs in other industries (e.g., pharmaceuticals,manufacturing, consumer goods and technology) that incorporate theirfinance and consulting skills. Patrice Houdayer, dean of EM Lyon, toldVault in October that only about 12 percent of EM Lyon graduates gointo finance or consulting (compared with 45 percent at HarvardBusiness School). Because fewer students go into these fields,international business schools have a larger variety of recruitingoptions, and therefore better employment statistics in this economy.

As non-U.S. business schools become more popular,will the U.S. lose its place as the home of the MBA? Though businesseducation was invented and developed here, with the addition ofstronger MBA programs outside the country, MBAs may cease to be one ofour major exports. As these schools gain popularity, they will increasein quality and international prestige. (Check out BusinessWeek's2009 list of top European MBA programs, released this week.) Sometop-tier international programs may overtake their U.S. counterparts ininternational prestige, and the programs on the cusp (a list BusinessWeekcalls "The Strivers") may finally make it over the hump to become topprograms internationally, rather than regionally (in this case,"regionally" may mean country-wide or continent-wide). Pursuing an MBAabroad may be the smartest option for U.S. and non-U.S. students,alike.

For more information on top MBA programs abroad, check out some of the top business schools profiled on Vault.com:

CEIBS

EGADE

INSEAD

IE Business School

London Business School

Filed Under: Education

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