by Talon Rindels, Senior Consultant at The MBA Exchange. An MBA graduate of Northwestern Kellogg, Talon also studied at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Prior to joining The MBA Exchange, she interviewed and assessed candidates on behalf of the Kellogg admissions committee. She has guided applicants targeting top U.S. and European programs including London Business School, INSEAD, IE Business School, HEC Paris, Stanford, Harvard, and Kellogg. Her professional experience spans merchandising, brand management, global M&A, sales, and finance for iconic companies such as General Mills, Mars, Inc. and Target. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance and business management from the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Aspiring MBA candidates have many different motives for seeking an MBA and often limit their search solely to US-based schools without even realizing the sacrifices they may be making by doing so. Below are five common motivations for applying to business school and reasons why a school located outside the US might be a better choice for some US residents:
- Gain a global perspective
While many US MBA programs pride themselves on their diverse faculty/class profiles, the variety of student and faculty backgrounds at European and Asian schools is unmatched in the US. Roughly 35% of the student body at top US programs are from outside the US, while b-schools like INSEAD, London Business School, HEC Paris, and IE all have classes where greater than 90% of students come from countries other than where the school is based. Travis Banken, a Minnesota-native currently studying at IE Business School in Madrid, shared that his cohort represents over 75 nationalities with an international student population of over 90%, providing a learning environment that was just “too good to pass up!”
- Build an expanded network
Given the greater cultural diversity at non-US schools, attending an MBA program in Europe or Asia will allow you to join an alumni network with presence on nearly every continent – beyond what most US schools can provide. Your professional network can’t get much wider than that!“During my first two projects at IE, all 10 of my teammates were from 10 different countries and across 5 different continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America),” says Banken.“It made me realize very quickly that after my MBA, I could go almost anywhere in the world and access an immediate network of IE alums.”What better way to have a future business contact (and a free tour guide) wherever you go? In addition, US MBA students studying abroad often strengthen their relationships with fellow US classmates by bonding over shared experiences – like enjoying a late-night pint together while watching the Super Bowl at a London pub a few hours before Monday morning class!
- Increase earning potential
When it comes to the long-term financial benefit of an MBA, one should think in terms of ROI. Non-US business schools typically have lower tuition costs vs. US schools with comparable global rankings. In fact, among the MBA programs with the 20 highest tuitions costs, 17 are based in the US. In addition, many programs outside the US are shorter in duration (typically just 12 months), benefiting full-time students in three ways: (1) tuition costs for just one year, (2) forgone full-time salary for just one year, and (3) accelerated re-entry into the workforce with a higher post-MBA salary.
- Make a career change post-MBA
Earning an MBA degree from a top school abroad immediately differentiates you from your peers who attend US schools. Say there are only 1-2 openings at a highly attractive US company. You may be the only candidate (or at least one of very few) applying from your non-US school vs. one of dozens applying from US schools. In addition, as Banken notes, you’ll have more global knowledge and perspective that may make you simply more qualified and appealing for the job: “By learning in an environment where my nationality isn’t in the majority, and where my culture doesn’t dominate discussions, I grow my ability to think critically, collaborate across the cultural divide, and ultimately become a more effective global leader. These skills will certainly come through in my employment interviews and help drive my career thereafter.”
- Position yourself for the C-Suite someday
Having global experience is becoming a necessity to join the C-Suite at many US-headquartered corporations. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but one that continually grows in significance. Back in 2011, the Harvard Business Review called attention to the growing importance of global experience. The article “The New Path to the C-Suite” notes that some companies require high-potential leaders to take on global assignments to position themselves for the C-Suite, especially if their resume lacks international perspective.According to the 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review article “How Global is your C-Suite,” companies such as Nestle S.A. favor applicants with dual nationality, international parentage or living experience in multiple countries when recruiting for its management trainee program.
Applying to a non-US MBA program certainly has many advantages, but also comes with unique challenges and concerns. Engaging an admissions consultant who has had success advising US applicants to non-US schools, and who may even have attended one, could be extremely valuable to your admissions campaign.If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to review the consultant profiles proudly featured on our team roster. If you’re still unsure about whether to include non-US business schools on your target list, let us know.Our free evaluation of your candidacy is a great way to consider and then launch your global journey!
In Part Two of this blog series, we’ll discuss how the process is different – and in some ways more appealing – for applicants to non-US schools. Stay tuned!