Top 5 places to study an MBA abroad

October, 2022

Improve your business knowledge and widen your network all while experiencing a new culture by doing an MBA overseas

While there are lots of prestigious business schools in the UK, obtaining your MBA is about more than just the education. The experience you gain and the contacts you make may become just as invaluable.

What's more, MBA courses are often taught in English, so they're accessible too. Here are some of the most popular destinations.

1. USA

Why study an MBA in the USA? Business schools in the USA dominate global rankings. It prides itself as the land of opportunity and it was home to the first ever MBA; at Harvard in 1908. Studying in the USA will present some of the best networking opportunities, and the calibre of such a qualification won't go unnoticed by an employer.

How do business schools rank in the USA? Of the Financial Times (FT) Global MBA Rankings 2022, seven of the top ten are based in the USA. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania takes the number one spot, with Columbia Business School, Harvard and the Kellogg School of Management also in the top five.

What does an MBA cost? The most expensive MBA in the USA (and worldwide) is the MIT Sloan School of Management MBA, which costs $241,984 (£219,135). However, the top ranked MBA universities generally charge between $70,000 (£63,390) and $90,000 (£81,502). This is still toward the more expensive end of the range, so you'll need to decide how you’re going to fund your MBA. Overseas study guidance website Yocket claim that the cost of living in the USA is between $10,000 (£8,893) and $12,000 (£10,672) a year, and their courses last for two years.

Anything else I need to know? While most MBAs in Europe last for one year, MBAs in the USA take two years to complete (one-year programmes are available). One of the defining features of a two-year MBA is that you usually undertake an internship with an employer during the summer after the first year. Impress them sufficiently and you may get a job offer.

Find out more about studying in the USA.

2. France

Why study an MBA in France? France brought MBAs to Europe, and it's the location of some of the finest universities worldwide. The country is known for its reasonable education fees, however studying in Paris will increase your living costs. It's also the most popular non-English speaking MBA location.

How do French business schools rank? Only INSEAD appears in the top ten of the FT Global MBA Rankings 2022, with six schools in the top 100. They also feature twice in the QS Top MBA Rankings 2023 top ten. HEC Paris is a strong option but INSEAD is the most prestigious school, placing third and ninth respectively.

What does an MBA cost? HEC Paris' MBA costs €80,000 (£70,004) for the 16-month course. They estimate your total expenses to be €24,825 (£21,723) including accommodation, books, meals, transportation, etc. There is €1,000,000 (£877,696) worth of scholarships and funding available to qualifying students each year. Tuition fees for INSEAD are €92,575 (£80,987) for a ten-month course.

Anything else I need to know? A full-time MBA in France usually takes between 12 and 24 months to complete. Studying in France also provides the opportunity to pick up a language spoken by 29 countries, and the third most spoken in Europe.

Find out more about studying in France.

3. Spain

Why study an MBA in Spain? Many students choose to study in Spain thanks to the rich culture and stunning setting. The country is a huge business hub with Valencia, Barcelona and Algeciras making up three of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean Sea.

How do Spanish business schools rank? Out on top was IESE Business School placing tenth in both the FT and QS top 100 list. Two other business schools feature in the two top 100 rankings, including IE Business School in Madrid (40th, 7th) and Esade Business School (34th, 17th) in Barcelona.

What does an MBA cost? Tuition fees for the IESE MBA are paid across two years, starting with a €10,000 (£8,738) deposit to secure your place, and a total course fee of €99,500 (£87,004). A student can generally live in Barcelona for €741 (£649) per month, which is among the more expensive locations in Spain.

Anything else I need to know? Students can generally complete an MBA in Spain within a year, but often have the choice to extend it to two years. Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe, so you'll be joining a competitive jobs market if you choose to live there.

Find out more about studying in Spain.

4. Singapore

Why study an MBA in Singapore? Singapore is a cost-effective, primarily English-taught location to study your MBA. It is also known for being flexible and some universities allow 15 hour-per-week of study. So, if your plan is to experience the country's culture or work while you're studying, Singapore is an ideal choice.

How do Singaporean business schools rank? Singapore MBAs make the top 100 of the FT Global MBA Rankings 2022 three times and the QS Rankings twice. In top spot for both is the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School at 21st and 26th respectively.

What does an MBA cost? The NUS Business School MBA charges S$84,000 (£52,907) which is paid incrementally by semester. This is paid in smaller amounts if studied part time. If you're in need of financial assistance you may want to apply for scholarships. Living in Singapore will generally cost around S$1,807 (£1,135) per month.

Anything else I need to know? Singapore has a very low crime rate and a high degree of cleanliness - chewing gum is firmly banned, littering results in a hefty fine, and there's a random drug-testing policy with zero tolerance on results.

Find out more about studying in Singapore.

5. China

Why study an MBA in China? Learning the most popular language worldwide in the second largest economy is a huge incentive. You also get to experience a socio-economic culture different to your own. There are also lots of scholarships on offer for their MBAs.

How do Chinese business schools rank? There are six business schools in the top 100 of the FT Global MBA Rankings 2022 and four in the QS Top MBA Rankings 2023. The China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) comes out highest on average placing 16th in the FT Global Rankings.

What does an MBA cost? In 2024, the 16-month programme at CEIBS will cost RMB 458,000 (£58,099), which covers textbooks, Wi-Fi and teaching tools. This is cheaper than most reputable business schools around Europe. Some of the MBAs in China can go as low as RMB 100,000 (£12,685). Living in a dormitory at CEIBS costs RMB 3,000 (£381) a month and this includes water, electricity and air conditioning.

Anything else I need to know? MBAs in China are usually taught in English, but it may be worth picking up some Mandarin during your stay. It's the spoken language among the largest exporters in the world and that's sure to be a door-opener in business whether you stay in China for work, or return to your home country. Full-time courses generally last for 12 to 18 months.

Find out more about studying in China.

Other destinations

Honourable mentions in Europe include Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Beyond, Canada and Australia are English-speaking countries that also rank highly.

Discover more destinations for postgraduate study abroad.

Find out more

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