Today’s post comes from our friends at AdmitHour. You can learn more about them here.
The overwhelming majority of business school applicants set their sights on an MBA program in the United States, and for obvious reasons - most top programs are located here. Upon closer inspection though, there’s more than meets the American eye. Competitors hailing from foreign shores are very much shaking up the traditional MBA landscape today. In fact, if one were to look at business school rankings over the past 10 years, an interesting trend would surface. Increasingly you see players like INSEAD, London Business School, and HEC creep their way into the top 10 MBA programs in the world. While this might be surprising for some, for those who’ve taken the leap across the pond, investments in a global education have been both life changing and professionally rewarding.
So why pursue an international MBA?
You’d be hard pressed to find a growing company today that isn’t exploring international opportunities. You’d be equally hard pressed to find a top management executive that hasn’t done a stint abroad to accelerate his/her career – whether it was opening a new office, turning around a struggling market, or moving production abroad for higher margins. Still, although physical barriers to trade have been eliminated, many communication barriers still exist, making any such endeavor truly daunting.
Working in an environment often ripe with contrasting business cultures is after all not for the faint hearted. Learning to drive positive business outcomes when a “yes” sometimes means “no,” requires patience and understanding. So in addition to accounting and finance, knowing how to effectively navigate complex cultural and business situations is a valuable life-long skill that an international MBA student almost certainly walks away with – no semester abroad required (although I would argue such brief stints are superficial exposure to real life at best). By sheer virtue of being surrounding by peers from typically over 100 different nations, all relating to each other, coping, and forming bonds in a new foreign country such as France, Singapore, or the UK, students learn the emotional intelligence skills necessary to build a strong global culture that serves them well throughout their careers.
The ability to call on a wealth of former classmates across geographical locations not only comes in handy for couches to surf for that next exotic vacation, but also opens up a whole new set of opportunities you didn’t even know you might be interested in. By plugging into a diversified alumni base you increase the chances of networking your way towards that dream job. Of course all schools have global networks, but starting off your business school experience in the humbling absence of cultural dominance, you are also more likely to go outside of your comfort zone and make friends with people you never knew you’d connect with.
International programs such as INSEAD (10 – 12 months) or London Business School (18 months) are shorter than U.S. programs. This means that both one’s opportunity cost and hard tuition fees are lower. Saving this extra money and time for those a bit older or who find themselves later on in their careers is not to be overlooked. Don’t be fooled though that shorter somehow means lesser. Despite an accelerated timeline, these abridged MBAs actually pack in the same number of classroom hours and content.
So while U.S. programs, albeit “international” on paper, boast diversity, going to a truly global school with no predominant culture, although it might feel like a social experiment at first, will, in fact, turn out to be much closer to the where the business world is heading.