The world's first business school was France's ESCP-EAP, which opened in 1819. Here in the U.S., the first school opened in 1881. It was the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The U.S.dominates business education. According to the Financial Times "Global MBA rankings for 2010," five of the top 10 programs were based at U.S. schools. Studying here is still a popular choice for those who work or plan to work in North America or for U.S.-owned companies. (There are many ways to fund a child's education including loans, scholarships, grants and protecting your investments. Check out Paying For College In An Economic Downturn.)
TUTORIAL: Introduction To Student Loans
However, Europe is firmly in on the act, and the market has changed. Schools such as Insead in France, the London Business School and IMD in Switzerland now offer degrees at least as respected as those from here in America. With nearly 500 MBA programs in Europe and over 700 in the United States, the choice of which side of the Atlantic has never been so difficult.
Why Should You Go?
While America is well-known to have some of the most prestigious business schools in the world, it might be worth your while to consider some of the overseas universities and business schools for your MBA. The reason for this is that they can often offer a more rounded or global business school experience, and equip you to be a more effective player on the global stage.
One of the major drawbacks to studying your MBA abroad could well be the cost. While the cost of an MBA on American soil might seem high, it can be a lot higher if you are a foreign student in England, for example. This means that you could end up paying twice as much for your MBA as you would in the states, or up to four times as much as you would if you were a British citizen.
However, if you have any European ancestry it could be worth your while to investigate applying for a European passport or Ancestral Visa. This may give you access to the discounted tuition fees offered by some European universities, and could reduce the cost of your MBA to a fraction of what you would pay in the U.S. Some universities also offer financial incentives to foreign students in order to boost their diversity and international appeal, so keep a look out for these.
Where You Can Study
Here we will look at three of the most respected business schools outside of the states in Europe: Insead in France, the London Business School and IMD in Switzerland
INSEAD's flagship MBA program is currently ranked No. 1 globally by Business Week. Additionally, The Financial Times ranked it No. 4 in the world (tied with Stanford Graduate School of Business), and it has been the highest ranked one-year MBA program on the list for several years in a row.
The job prospects seem encouraging, with 86% of graduates from the school having found jobs within three months of graduation. Sandra Schwarzer, INSEAD's director of career services said of this high percentage, "The school has an edge in the job market, because graduates are required to speak three languages, giving them a wide array of options in different countries during their job search."
London Business School
London Business School is currently ranked No. 1 on the Financial Times "Global MBA rankings" for the third year running. The school is proud of the diversity of the student body, and the 2010 graduating class consisted of 320 students from 60 nations.
The ranking also draws out earning potential, with London Business School students earning a 132% increase in salary three years after graduating, compared to when they started their degree. The School reported an employment rate of 91% for MBA graduates within three months of graduating in 2010. (For related reading, see Traditional MBA Or Business Graduate Degree?)
IMD - International Institute For Management Development
IMD is a business school that solely provides executive education. It is not part of a university, and there are no academic departments, just one integrated multidisciplinary faculty.
The school's MBA program is a one-year program and the school deliberately keeps the number of participants small, admitting no more than 90 students. Each class includes participants from countries across the globe to ensure that no nationality dominates.
The program has been ranked No. 8 in the world by the "QS Global 200 Business School Reports," and provides a truly unique learning opportunity.
The European Benefits
One of the major benefits of studying in Europe is an unparalleled internationalism in the student body, the faculty and the curriculum. This can make the European MBA an exciting cultural experience. If you have never spent much time outside of the U.S., the experience of living and studying abroad will be an invaluable one and you will be exposed to the way life and business work in a different part of the world. In order to be a truly effective international businessperson it is essential that you understand how corporate culture differs from one continent to another, and this is one of the best ways you can gain that experience first hand.
European programs are often shorter, and the students older and with more years of work experience. If the mantra is that you should learn as much from your cohort as your professors, then this can make many European schools highly appealing.
The Bottom Line
In the end the choice is yours to make, but you should consider these schools overseas as an alternative option, as the benefits of an international MBA will last you long into the boardroom. (Test your money management skills as you work your way through university. Refer to Budgeting While You're In College.)