Business School Applicants: If You Think Global, Apply Global

Student writing by globe

When it comes to targeting business schools, many applicants limit the possibilities to MBA programs located in the United States. The so-called “M7” schools – Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Columbia, Northwestern Kellogg and Chicago Booth – continue to be a perennial draw.

Targeting these MBA programs is understandable: they consistently rank among the world’s best and each satisfies most applicants’ five highest priorities:
• Relevant Knowledge: School provides skills and understanding to achieve your highest potential
• Expanded Perspective: School challenges, stretches and enhances your world view
• Life-long Relationships: School surrounds you with accomplished, approachable peers
• Valuable Network: School connects you with successful, supportive individuals to serve as allies
• Respected Brand: School has a reputation that reflects positively on those who attend

If you share these priorities, it could make excellent sense to also consider top-tier schools outside the United States. You may be surprised to find several non-US MBA programs that can satisfy your immediate needs and deliver a top-tier business education that will serve you well for a lifetime. Here are some facts and figures to consider. Of the world’s top 100 business schools, as ranked by, nearly half (49) are based outside the US. Non-US countries with the most ranked MBA programs are: UK (11), China (6), France (5), India (4) and Canada, Spain, Germany, Australia (3 each).

Furthermore, 11 business schools are ranked by and at least one other credible source (Bloomberg, Economist, and/or Forbes). These are INSEAD, London Business School, IESE, CEIBS, Oxford Saïd, Cambridge Judge, National University of Singapore, Hong Kong UST, HEC Paris, ESADE, and IMD. Several of these world-class MBA programs are featured among the “School Profiles” on our website.

Once you weigh school-specific factors such as the average academic profile of admits, home countries of current students, industries and companies that recruit on campus, number and locations of alumni chapters, profiles of featured faculty and alumni, and availability of student and work visas, you may find that some non-US schools have very attractive value propositions for students from around the world. But, maybe you’re still thinking it might be “too exotic” for you to attend one of these schools? Well, you’ll be comforted to know that several nations with top-tier MBA programs fare quite well in the “Best Countries” ranking, which is produced in part by The Wharton School. These are #1 Switzerland, #3 Canada, #4 Germany, #5 United Kingdom, #7 Australia, and #10 France. (By comparison, the United States ranks #8).

Furthermore, in terms of “Open for Business” (i.e., business friendliness), this global ranking includes #2 Switzerland, #6 Singapore, and #7 Canada. (By comparison, the US is ranked #48.) As for “Quality of Life”, there’s #1 Canada, #5 Switzerland, #8 Netherlands, #10 Germany, #12 UK, and #16 France (By comparison, the US ranks #17.)

If you believe it will be more expensive to attend a business school outside the US, think again. Several of the highest rated (including #1 INSEAD) are 12-month programs, so the total tuition and foregone income are actually less than many two-year programs in the US. Plus, the cost of living may actually be lower outside the U.S. (e.g., London costs 8% less than Boston!)

To be sure you’re considering all of the best schools for you, there’s one additional step. Choose an admissions consulting resource that’s as global as your target list. Select a firm that has decades of experience and success with other applicants who targeted the same MBA programs. And pick a consultant who knows the country’s culture, native language, and business environment first-hand.

Fact: There’s no admissions consulting firm more global than The MBA Exchange. Our consultants have graduated from and/or worked at the world’s best business schools, and:
• We’ve successfully guided 5,000+ applicants from over 70 countries
• We’re currently located in 11 countries
• We speak 15 languages
• We’ve lived, studied and/or worked in over 30 countries
• We’ve personally visited each continent, including more than 100 countries!

Feel free to review the consultant profiles proudly featured on our team roster. If you’re still unsure about whether any non-US business schools should be on your target list, let us know. Our free evaluation of your candidacy is a great way to start your global journey!