Overseas Business Programs Thriving

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

March 20, 2009

MBA programs abroad are reporting significant increases in enrollment, buoyed by struggling professionals seeking to expand their global business perspective.

Business Week reports that European business school applications are up by about one-third over the last 18 months. The increased enrollment is partially fueled by the economic downturn, which is providing an incentive for many to head to school as they wait for more job opportunities to materialize. But another factor driving the trend is a desire for international exposure, which experts say is critical for business success.

"It's important to understand how people from different countries do different things in different ways," explained Chris Carey, a Morgan Stanley financial adviser on the West Coast who decided to pursue his MBA at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium.

Experts agree that the economic downturn calls for global solutions, which makes overseas business schools even more appealing. European programs can boast up to 50 nationalities per class, giving students a global perspective they say they could not have received in American business schools.

"Students think to themselves, 'How do I internationalize myself?'" said Christopher McKenna, MBA program director at Oxford University's Said Business School, who was quoted in The Wall Street Journal. "One signal of that to employers is that is that you are willing to get your degree in another country."

Another factor is cost. The Wall Street Journal notes that European schools typically offer shorter MBA programs, resulting in lower tuition. Todd Lombardo, who will be earning his MBA in Madrid at the Instituto de Empresa Business School, will be paying about one-third less for his tuition than he would have had he enrolled in an American business school. Additionally, he will complete the program in 13 months, rather than the 21 months it would have taken him in the United States.

European business schools have also traditionally attracted fewer finance and consulting recruiters than American programs, and have strong placement in manufacturing, technology and consumer goods-a factor that is now being seen as an advantage in light of the financial crisis. This is because the recession is causing business graduates to consider industrial sectors instead of finance, explained Cathy Butler, director of the MBA careers service at University of Cambridge's Judge School of Business, in an interview with Business Week.

In a related story, The Wall Street Journal reports that many executive MBA programs in the United States are including studies abroad, in an effort to give students exposure to global business perspectives. Some of the programs include Duke University's Fuqua School of Business expanded Cross Continent Program, the Global Initiatives in Management Program at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, and the International Business Development program at the University of California-Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

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