Top 5 places to study an MBA abroad

Emma Knowles, Editor
June, 2017

Take your MBA studies abroad to gain the global business perspective and international experience that will make you an invaluable asset to your future employers

Some of the best MBA courses in the world are offered at UK universities, but the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture as you study is too good to miss.

1. USA

As the birthplace of the MBA, it's no surprise that the USA's business schools dominate global league tables for the subject. In the Financial Times (FT) Global MBA Rankings 2017, 11 of the top 20 universities are American.

The likes of Stanford, Harvard and Columbia are among these highly-ranked institutions. Obtaining an MBA from one of these schools will lead to a considerable increase in your salary and career prospects. The founders of Nike, eBay and the CEO of Sony Entertainment are among the world's highest-paid influencers with MBAs from these top schools.

While you'll find one and two-year MBA courses in the USA, studying in this reputable destination will come at a significant price. For example, Stanford estimate that being a single first-year MBA student living on campus for the ten-month academic year for 2017/18 will cost $112,797 (about £89,000). This total includes tuition fees and living costs among other expenses.

If you're happy to consider less prestigious universities there are more affordable alternatives. The total cost of an MBA for an international student at Michigan State is estimated at just $69,893 (£55,216) for the academic year 2017/18. Whichever option you choose, you'll be studying at the heart of the world's largest economy - an unrivalled opportunity for aspiring business leaders.

Find out more about studying in the USA.

2. China

If you opt to study in China, you'll be immersed in a unique culture and an alternative approach to business. An MBA from the country of the world's second-largest economy in 2017 will give you not only an insight into the booming Asian market but the invaluable opportunity to learn Mandarin alongside your studies.

Five of the country's business schools appear in the FT world rankings, making China one of the foremost destinations for MBA students globally. China's best performer in 2017 - the 18-month, full-time MBA programme offered by the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai - is ranked 11th, six places higher than its 17th position in 2016.

The standard MBA programme at 15th-positioned Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) takes 16 months to complete, and a basic Mandarin course is delivered as part of the workload for international students. Tuition fees for the 2017 intake are HK585, 000 (£59,450), which along with living, accommodation and various other expenses bumps the cost up to an estimated HK790,000 (£80,200).

Find out more about studying in China.

3. France

Aside from the UK, France is Europe's leading provider of MBA courses - and one of the most popular choices for prospective students. It is home to the best MBA course on the planet, according to the FT's 2017 rankings, with INSEAD Business School taking the number one spot ahead of Stanford, Harvard and the UK's highest entrant, Cambridge.

Describing itself as the business school for the world, INSEAD offers a ten-month programme and, even though its tuition fees are higher than other French universities at €80,800 (about £71,100), graduates achieve an average 95% salary increase. INSEAD estimates that living expenses will amount to €23,000 (£20,250) for the duration of the course.

Though INSEAD is the best known, it isn't the only elite business school France has to offer. HEC Paris, EDHEC Business School and Grenoble Ecole de Management are among the other well-regarded institutions. As in China, the leading courses are taught in English.

An example is the full-time MBA at HEC Paris, which takes 16 months to complete. Tuition fees for the September 2017 and January 2018 intakes are expected to be €62,000 (about £54,600). The vast majority of those on the programme, up to 90%, are international students.

Find out more about studying in France.

4. India

More than just a country of colourful festivals, good food and breathtaking natural sights, India is home to a handful of world-class institutions delivering MBA courses to a high standard. The country makes four appearances in the FT Global MBA Rankings 2017, with two of these in the top 30. The Indian School of Business is ranked 27th, while the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad follows closely behind in 29th.

Tuition fees vary across institutions, although higher-ranking universities will charge more. The 2018/19 intake at the Indian School of Business can expect to pay 2,832,350 rupees (£34,500) to study the one-year course - this figure covers tuition, accommodation costs, admission fees and a security deposit - with an additional estimated outgoing of 195,000 rupees (£2,400) to cover costs of amenities such as textbooks, food and a laptop.

In comparison, students of the IIM Bangalore (ranked 49th) 2018/19 intake will pay a smaller sum of 2,796,675 rupees to complete the course, roughly £23,850. In general, obtaining your MBA from India is a more affordable alternative to the hotspots of China and the US.

If you're planning to study in India, be prepared for a highly competitive entry process - the QS Top MBA rankings for Asia 2016/17 showed that entrants onto MBAs at the Indian Business School and IIM Ahmedabad had the highest Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores across the continent.

Find out more about studying in India.

5. Singapore

The opportunity to study and live in one of Asia's tiger economies is likely to excite budding entrepreneurs. Universities in Singapore are fast becoming an attractive destination for MBA students - Nanyang Business School and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School placed 24th and 26th respectively in the FT 2017 rankings. The global front-runner, France's INSEAD, has a second campus in Singapore.

Nanyang's full-time MBA is a one-year course, with tuition fees of 62,000 Singaporean dollars (approx. £35,110). The NUS charges the same for tuition as Nanyang. Living costs for these Singaporean institutions are disclosed as an estimate: a breakdown of the additional expenses you'll need to consider can be found on each university's website.

If you're planning to work in Singapore once you graduate, you'll be perfectly placed - Singapore is the business and financial services hub of Southeast Asia, with an incredibly low unemployment rate of just 2.2% as of January 2017.

Find out more about studying in Singapore.

Alternative destinations

There are a growing number of countries vying for a place at the top of the table in terms of MBAs. In Europe, you can find excellent courses at universities in Spain, Germany and Switzerland. Further afield, the best business schools in Canada and Australia are strong contenders for your attention. Discover a range of destinations for completing your postgraduate study abroad.