There are several excellent MBA programs outside North America. European Business schools such as London Business School in the UK, IMD in Switzerland, INSEAD in France, ESADE in Spain, and RSM Erasmus in the Netherlands immediately come to mind as some of the top ranked MBA programs in the world. Although the US remains by far the primary center for MBA study (about 83% of all the GMAT score reports worldwide are sent to US-based business schools based on the GMAC’s 07 data), Europeans are increasingly choosing to study in Europe outside of their home country while Americans also start to take a serious look at schools across the Atlantic. This tendency, however, has been balanced by Asians who overwhelmingly choose to study in the US.
Why then are more students now choosing to pursue their management education abroad in a different country in Europe? Many factors contribute to this trend, such as an interest in working internationally, an interest in a particular country, the desire to learn another language or to experience a different academic atmosphere. We also listed out some crucial benefits below.
Yet, studying abroad does entail certain challenges, and some candidates are more prepared to succeed in a different cultural context as a result of their personality and professional or academic background.
Factors to Consider – Pros
· Shorter Program: European programs move at a faster pace. They are generally 1-year long, so you need to be prepared to jump right into academic work. IMD, generally ranked as the #1 program in Europe, is a rigorous 11-month program in which students do not have the opportunity to pursue an internship. So you need to be a bit more focused in terms of post-MBA goals and career pursuits.
· More Experienced Classmates: Another important consideration in terms of matching your background with European programs is that the average student age and years of professional experience is higher at European schools than in US schools. Older candidates tend to find this attractive, while younger ones may feel slightly out of place or experience increased difficulty gaining admission.
A Truly International Student Body (North Americans Included!)
The more liberal approach that European business schools are taking with their curricula is not going unnoticed by the global applicant pool of aspiring managers and entrepreneurs. Many top-ranked European MBA programs have student bodies in which the nation hosting the institution contributes only a small minority of the student population.
For example, HEC in Paris is 82% international, with only 30% originating from all of Western Europe. David Bach, dean of the MBA program at IE reports that the profile of the MBA class matriculating in 2008 was 90% international. Significantly, IE, along with HEC, RSM at Erasmus University, and others are also seeing an increase in the number of North American applicants. This fact is significant since North America is home to some of the world’s most elite and prestigious business schools, which tend to give preference to qualified domestic applicants.
Of course, some level of diversity can be found in most competitive MBA programs, in North America and elsewhere; the difference is more philosophical in nature. For example, at HEC an American MBA candidate may find himself instructed to work in a team with citizens from China, Germany and Saudi Arabia to develop his abilities to work practically with a variety of peoples. As Valerie Gauthier, Associate Dean of HEC, said in an interview in earlier 2008, “The emphasis is not only on the leadership program, but human development.”
Global Collaboration Initiative
European business schools continue to diversify not only in terms of those they attract to their campuses, or the substantial and growing number of students who take part in exchange programs, but also in the ways they integrate with other educational concerns globally.
For instance, in a conference bringing the deans of 11 top business schools in London in July 2007, educational leaders discussed points of common interest, including joint loans and scholarships for students. They also discussed the merits and organization of their respective exchange programs.
The collaborative emphasis also exists between successful European schools and the developing world. IESE in Barcelona, which recently opened up a new office in New York City, has also opened three schools in Africa in Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya with the hope of bringing about the same sort of transformational change to countries in Africa that it helped entrepreneurs bring to Mexico, Brazil and China 20 years ago. Jordi Canals, dean of the program, has said that he wants the school to use its resources to work within the regional educational systems in Africa to train faculty and administration to become self-sufficient and take a commanding role in their own business education.
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