Top 5 places to study an MBA abroad

March, 2016

Studying for an MBA abroad can give you a global business perspective and make you more attractive to prospective employers

While universities in the UK provide some of the best MBA courses in the world, you may want to combine your postgraduate studies with spending time in another country.

The global nature of the economy means that the international experience you'll gain could prove invaluable as your career progresses, with the added bonus of getting to immerse yourself in a new culture.

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 2016, seven of the top ten universities are American.

The likes of Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Columbia Business School are renowned for their MBA programmes. A qualification from one of these will do wonders for your career and salary prospects.

You can find one and two-year MBAs in the USA, but studying at a high-status school will come at a significant price. For example, Stanford estimated that the cost for a single first-year MBA student living on campus for the nine-month academic year would be $103,419 (about £74,000) in 2015/16. This included tuition fees and other expenses.

There are more affordable alternatives if you're happy to consider less prestigious universities. Whichever option you choose, you'll get to study 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

Studying in China will allow you to experience a unique culture and approach to business, and will look great on your CV. The chance to learn Mandarin is also too good to miss, although most of the leading MBAs are taught in English.

Seven of the country's business schools appear in the FT world rankings, demonstrating its position as one of the foremost destinations for MBA students. An example is the full-time MBA at HKUST Business School in Hong Kong. It is China's best performer, coming in 14th place overall.

The standard programme at HKUST takes 16 months to complete, and a Mandarin for beginners course is part of the curriculum. Estimated costs, including tuition fees and other expenses, are 750,000 Hong Kong dollars (about £69,000) for the 2016 intake.

Again, tuition costs vary considerably between universities, but in general fees in China are more affordable than those in the USA. Your options include the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), CUHK Business School, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Antai College of Economics and Management - all of which appear in the FT's global top 40.

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. In fact, it is home to the best MBA course on the planet, according to the FT's 2016 rankings, with INSEAD Business School taking the number one spot ahead of Harvard.

Describing itself as the business school for the world, INSEAD offers a one-year programme and - even though its tuition fees are higher than its French competitors at €71,000 (about £55,000) - graduates achieve an average 96% salary increase.

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 2016 intake are expected to be €56,000 (about £43,000). The vast majority of those on the programme, up to 90%, are international students.

Find out more about studying in France.

4. Australia

Australia is the fourth most attractive destination for prospective MBA students, the QS Top MBA Applicant Survey 2015 revealed - and it's not hard to see why.

As well as the appealing weather and ever-popular beaches and cities, the country has three representatives in the FT's MBA world rankings: the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), UNSW Business School and Melbourne Business School.

The latter's full-time MBA lasts one year and 2016 tuition fees are set at 81,400 Australian dollars (about £42,000). Estimated living costs for international students, according to the school, are 580 Australian dollars (almost £300) per week. Once again, look beyond the elite universities for cheaper options.

One advantage of choosing Australia is that it's a gateway to the strongly business-oriented economies of Southeast Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region. Over a third of students in Melbourne Business School's 2015 cohort were from Asia, more than any other continent - meaning that you'll be able to gain fresh business perspectives while studying in a relatively familiar English-speaking environment.

Find out more about studying in Australia.

5. Singapore

Universities in Singapore are on the rise, both in general terms and specifically with regards to their MBA courses. Nanyang Business School and the National University of Singapore Business School achieved 29th and 32nd place respectively in the FT global rankings in 2016.

The opportunity to study and live in this multicultural city-state - one of the Asian tiger economies - is likely to excite budding entrepreneurs.

Nanyang's full-time MBA is a one-year course, with tuition fees of 55,000 Singaporean dollars (about £28,000). At the National University of Singapore, tuition will cost 62,000 Singaporean dollars (about £31,000) for the 2016 intake. Individual institutions provide estimates of living costs on their websites.

France's INSEAD also has a campus in Singapore. If you want to stay in the region to work once you graduate, you'll be perfectly placed as Singapore is the business and financial services hub of Southeast Asia.

Find out more about studying in Singapore.

Alternative destinations

There are a growing number of countries vying for a place at the top table in terms of MBAs. In Europe, you can find excellent courses at universities in Spain, Germany and Switzerland. Elsewhere, the best business schools in Canada and India are strong contenders for your attention.

Find out more about studying abroad in all of these locations.

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