Choosing an MBA program - how to CLARIFY your priorities

This is a detailed look at one of the second elements of our unique CLARIFY headings, enabling you to focus exclusively on MBA programs that meet all your personal needs!

In outlining here some issues regarding the possible location of your MBA program, we consider elsewhere the relative merits of generalised or specialised provision, full-time or part-time study.

Many European Business Schools are currently enjoying international recruiting success as part of the current trend to move away from American dominance of management education.

The current full-time MBA class for 2010 at Copenhagen Business School, for example, includes participants from 22 countries, 30% of whom are women. Over 90% of students are from outside Denmark, forming the basis of a formidable international network that should be of enormous benefit for many years to come. 

The Copenhagen figures illustrate the growing trend for business students to travel abroad for their education, with European business schools among the most popular destinations.

Much of the recent recruiting success enjoyed by European business schools comes from the emphasis on multicultural classrooms, not to mention the fact that most European MBA programs can be completed within one year, compared with the typical two years for American programs. This makes them considerably less expensive.

A study released last year by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT(the test required for entry to most top graduate business schools worldwide), found that the proportion of test scores that internationally mobile students were sending to programs in the United States has slid steadily from 75% in 2000 to the current 42%.

Just as in Copenhagen, enrolment at Madrid's Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School shows 90% of students now coming from outside Spain, with the biggest growth coming from Asia. It’s a similar picture at HEC Paris, where most of the MBA students were French just 10 years ago; today, international students from 50 different countries make up 80% of the MBA program. The biggest increases have come from India and the United States.

Global focus draws students to Europe There is a feeling among potential students that American programs, even when they claim to be international, lack the diversity of some of the European programs. On top of this, the idea of spending a year in Copenhagen, Paris, London or Madrid is very appealing to many potential students.

Students may also be discouraged by the stagnant job market in the United States, as well as by tighter restrictions on work visas since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“We are more international naturally because our countries are smaller and English is not necessarily our mother tongue,” says the Dean of one leading European business school. “The diversity of Europe in a limited space interests people. If you are coming from Mumbai, Shanghai or Moscow, you can, in a five-hour drive, see five countries, hear five languages and see 15 landscapes.”

“We want people from around the world who have had international exposure already,” adds another business school head. “It's a question of survival. Arriving at a major European capital, where you would be surrounded by people from 50 different countries speaking dozens of different languages, would be hard if you hadn't spent time outside your country.”

English is the main language of most of the globally oriented MBA programs in Europe. The full-time MBA at Copenhagen Business School is taught entirely in English, but things are not the same everywhere. The first year of the IESE full-time MBA in Barcelona is taught in English, for example, while second-year electives are offered in English and Spanish. Similarly, the 16-month program at HEC Paris is taught in English, but international students are required to study the French language during one of four terms.

Don’t stop now…

We have considered here some of the key issues in determining whether an MBA at one of the European Business Schools is the right program for you. Continue to CLARIFY your EMBA objectives by working through all the CLARIFY links to identify the best routes to achieving your EMBA:


You can proceed in any order you like and take as long as you need to explore each area thoroughly.




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