FindMBA Article Latests Articles Sun, 17 Feb 2019 15:01:31 +0100 <![CDATA[MBA School Choice: UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall]]> UCLA Anderson School of Management and USC Marshall School of Business may share several benefits because of their Los Angeles locations, not least access to a plethora of corporate recruiters and a warm climate. But both business schools, among California’s best, have distinct DNA that separates them from one another, and the rest. 

While both schools have similar student cultures, diverse cohorts, top employers, and flexible and practical MBA programs, they have different student bodies, positions in rankings, alumni networks and application processes. 

UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall: Location

UCLA and USC offer would-be MBAs an impressive array of professional and personal opportunities, says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange, an admissions consultancy firm. 

Los Angeles is a home for major entertainment, manufacturing, aerospace, technology, finance, telecoms and healthcare companies. In fact, 13 of the Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Los Angeles County, among them Walt Disney and CBRE Group, which provide a ready supply of guest speakers and recruiters, Min says. 

The region has seen a rise in tech companies large and small, such as Facebook, Google and Snapchat, which have coastal offices in Santa Monica, Venice or Marina del Rey, known as “Silicon Beach”. 

What’s more, LA has a warm “Mediterranean” climate and mountains, deserts and the Pacific Ocean. Major museums, professional sports teams, restaurants and shopping centers are in abundance.

But LA’s high cost of living — it’s nearly double the US average — and its air quality and transportation problems mean the city, despite its many advantages, is ranked by US News as the country’s 101th best metropolitan area to live in. (San Diego, two hours south of LA, is ranked 30th.)

UCLA is in West LA, an upscale area proximate to high-end residential homes with sprawling hills and lush greenery, the beach, and the college town of Westwood Village, says admissions consultant Stacy Blackman. In contrast, USC is in urban downtown LA, near areas that aren’t as upscale, although downtown LA is undergoing gentrification, she says. 

UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall: Rankings 

UCLA’s higher position in global business school rankings gives it an advantage over USC, says Min. For the three-year period to date, the Financial Times has ranked UCLA 28th in the world compared with USC’s 51st place. The Economist also ranks UCLA higher than USC (8th versus 28th) and US News does, too (16th compared with 20th). 

But each school has different areas of strength, says Min. By speciality, US News ranks USC eighth in accounting, 10th for entrepreneurship and 11th on international business — disciplines UCLA has not achieved a ranking for, as spaces are limited and competitive. UCLA’s only rank by discipline is finance, which USC is not ranked on.  

UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall: Student body and culture 

Another big difference between UCLA and USC is the size of the MBA cohorts. There are 360 students in UCLA’s MBA class of 2020, compared with 221 at USC. Despite its smaller class size, admissions consultants say USC Marshall has a stronger alumni network because graduates join the wider “Trojan” university network. 

“The USC alum network is very strong, where local employers prove to be fiercely loyal and eager to recruit Marshall grads,” says Blackman, president of Stacy Blackman Consulting in LA. “The strength of the ‘Trojan family’ affords benefits to Marshall grads that its counterpart, Anderson, can’t seem to match.” 

USC MBA candidate Gabrielle Owen bears this out. She says she applied to USC for the power of its alumni network, its entrepreneurial prowess and its location. 

“It is a tough [first] semester, but getting through that together makes us develop strong bonds,” she says, citing the example of job interviews. “Students will come out giving each other tips on where they might have messed up or questions that stumped them,” says Owen. “I’ve also seen people who get multiple offers, recommend their classmates for the position [they didn’t want].” 

However, UCLA’s 2020 class profile is stronger in some ways, with an average 719 GMAT score compared with USC’s 705. 

Both cohorts are diverse, with some variations. UCLA’s class is comprised of 35 percent women, 29 percent minorities and 33 percent international candidates. On the other hand, 52 percent of USC’s MBA candidates are women, 21 percent are minorities and 30 percent come from overseas. 

According to admissions consultants, the student culture is similar too and is influenced by the LA lifestyle: UCLA advocates participation, open-minded exploration and collaboration. Marshall emphasizes collegiality, free inquiry and entrepreneurial spirit.

UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall: MBA admissions requirements and selectivity 

UCLA received more applications than USC for the full-time MBA class of 2020 (3,423 vs 2,017) and is more selective, with an acceptance rate of 22 percent versus USC’s 28 percent. An offer of admission from UCLA appears to be more compelling, with a yield of 49.4 percent compared with 38.7 percent at USC. 

However, there are unusual aspects to the USC application that can make it difficult for some applicants to gain an admissions offer, says Blackman. USC will not accept recommendation letters, for example. “Applicants need to convince [the] USC admissions [team] that they are a good candidate based on test score, GPA and a couple of essays,” says Blackman. 

Both schools require a CV, undergraduate transcript, essays and a GMAT or GRE score. Interviews at both schools are by invitation only. 

UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall: MBA curriculums 

UCLA and USC’s MBA programs are flexible and practical, say admissions consultants. Lectures account for 48 percent of USC’s and 40 percent of UCLA’s programs, with the rest taught through case studies, simulations, consulting projects and other practical methods. 

At UCLA, the syllabus starts with traditional but customizable “core” courses. Electives are accessible in year one. In the second year, students pick electives, plus one of five “capstone” projects, including one in which they create a business. In addition, students can choose from 15 academic specializations that range from accounting to social impact. 

USC’s MBA participants take a core curriculum plus up to four electives. That is followed by a consulting project with an LA company, in addition to other practical projects and a myriad of electives. 

UCLA Anderson vs USC Marshall: Post-MBA career paths

Both schools’ Classes of 2018 earned the same median annual base salary of $125,000 and have similar top employers, including Amazon, Microsoft, Deloitte, Google, Mattel, and PwC. 

But USC is stronger in the more traditional career paths of consulting and finance, whereas one of UCLA’s primary strengths is tech recruiting, says Blackman. 

Of the most recent graduating class, the biggest group of UCLA MBAs chose to work in technology (29.5 percent), followed by consulting (20.4 percent), consumer products (7.6 percent), healthcare (6.9 percent), investment banking (6.5 percent), and entertainment/media (6.5 percent).

At USC, a larger proportion of students joined consulting firms (30 percent), followed by technology (16 percent), financial services (16 percent), entertainment/media/gaming (9 percent), and consumer products (8 percent). 

In choosing between business schools, USC MBA candidate Owen advises prospective students to understand what type of environment they want to be a part of. 

“I wanted to attend a school that was collaborative and innovative, but it wasn’t until I visited and got to experience the energy and see the dynamic that I got a true sense of what the school can offer.”

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<![CDATA[Age Just a Number as Older Candidates Flock to MBAs]]> Carolina Rey Díaz, a Colombian, came to business school in the Netherlands to learn to structure and finance development projects that could improve quality of life in the emerging market, where although economic growth is stable, more than three in 10 people still live in poverty. 

“My intention is to relocate to a developed economy, learn about project preparation, execution and financing, and bring the skills and knowledge learnt to Colombia,” she says. 

That is not unusual: a growing number of MBA candidates want to use their business acumen to make a positive impact on society or the environment. 

But what makes Díaz stand out is her age: she’s 38, with 14 years of experience in the financial sector. She has just started her full-time course at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), where the average MBA student is 30. But she is far from an isolated example of an older MBA candidate. 

The average age of students on MBAs ranked by the Financial Times, 28, has remained unchanged for much of the past two decades. But business schools do report anecdotal evidence that more older students are studying for MBAs. 

Brandon Kirby, director of MBA marketing and admissions at RSM, says that the average age for the past few years has held steady. However, he says the range of ages is different. “We are seeing more younger and older candidates, which while it keeps the average the same, certainly effects class composition. This past admissions cycle we have received more applications from older candidates than in previous years.” 

There are a number of reasons why older candidates would want to come back to business school.

As we live and work longer, and employment becomes more insecure because of automation, it makes sense for older professionals to seek further education, says Kirby. “It’s impossible to say what we learn in our undergraduate or graduate schooling is sufficient for our entire career,” he says. 

“Technology is affecting the workplace now more than ever. In order for someone to stay up-to-date and competitive, they must continue to learn and train, no matter their age.” 

Díaz says the MBA is less about developing an entirely new skillset, but refreshing and refining so-called “soft skills” such as communication. “I have [acquired] knowledge and skills through real life, but situations and people got more complex [in my job] and I needed to develop some specific soft skills to deal with that.”  

At the same time, switching careers into a new industry, function or country is becoming increasingly common. Current data suggest the average worker will make five to seven career switches in a lifetime. 

Even if they don’t change careers, interacting and engaging with a younger generation on an MBA can help older candidates work better with them, and see things in new ways, says Kirby. After all, on MBAs you learn as much from your peers as you do the professors. 

Most business schools have a career development center that could help older candidates identify their selling points, work on interview techniques and how to position their experience as a positive thing for a potential employer, says Kirby.

Ageism: a reality for many workers

Although age discrimination is illegal in many countries, research by Anglia Ruskin University found older workers were 4.2 times less likely to be picked for job interviews than 28-year-olds, and in a separate study many employees over 50 cited fewer training and progression opportunities with their current employer. 

Older workers are often perceived as costlier than their younger counterparts, and it is thought their careers have already peaked. 

Could more experienced candidates face discrimination in MBA admissions, too? Consultant Stacy Blackman says admissions officers are less concerned about chronological age than they are about leadership experience. 

Applying for an MBA in your mid-30s or above could suggest that you lack such experience. “Proving that you are a strong and accomplished 40-year-old leader, and balancing that with the fact that you want to improve in order to get to the next step, is tough to pull off,” says Blackman.

With that said, business schools value older MBA students for the considerable experience they bring to the program, on which peer learning is crucial. “We expect candidates to have had some significant achievements in their careers already that they can share,” says Anna Farrus, MBA recruitment and admissions director at IMD Business School in Switzerland. 

But she adds: “We value all our students the same, regardless of their age.” 

The average age of IMD MBA students is 31, with the figure unchanged for the past decade. But the range of ages is wide, with the youngest participant 26 and the oldest 37. “I see education and development as a life-long journey,” says Farrus. “We should never stop learning and improving our skills, regardless of what our career path is. 

“It is just natural that, as we all live longer, we approach our personal and professional development as a continuous process, and not as just something that we are done with in our mid 20s.” 

Employers who share this view may be encouraged to sponsor older workers through MBAs and reap benefits in doing so. For instance, diverse companies, those open to workers of all ages and backgrounds, are 45 percent more likely to report growth in market share, according to a study in Harvard Business Review. 

Despite the prevalence of ageism at work, change is already underway. Companies such as Barclays, Boots, Aviva and the Co-op have all pledged to boost the number of over-50s in their workforce by 12 percent by 2022, for example. 

An MBA could be a way to retain experienced professionals, as it can provide a significant career boost. The Graduate Management Admission Council calculates that those with an MBA or other advanced business degree earn between $500,000-$1m more over 20 years than those who don’t have such qualifications. 

Downsides to doing an MBA as an older candidate

But there are downsides to doing an MBA as an older candidate. The opportunity cost is high, as they usually have larger salaries than younger students, which they have to sacrifice for up to two years to do a full-time MBA, says Blackman. 

And older candidates may question whether the younger peer group on full-time MBAs will be as enriching to their learning as their own colleagues, she says. For that reason, she advises older candidates to consider getting an executive MBA (EMBA) instead, which is designed for more experienced professionals and can be completed on a part-time basis. 

Back at RSM, Díaz points out the historically high return on investment (ROI) the school’s graduates have: the average salary of the 2017 graduating MBA cohort was more than $80,000, compared with current tuition fees of €52,000 ($59,500). “The school provides huge support in your search for a job,” she adds.  

For her, and a growing number of MBA candidates, it seems age really is just a number. 

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<![CDATA[Are Management Consulting Firms Reducing their Dependence on MBAs?]]> For once, Keith Bevans is in Paris. As head of global consulting recruiting for Bain & Company, he travels the globe each year, searching for top talent from business schools. However, 2019 was the first time Bevans visited HEC Paris, one of Europe’s best business schools.

This reflects Bain’s desire to broaden its reach beyond elite US institutions such as Harvard where Bevans himself earned an MBA in 2002. He is turning to graduates with different degrees as well as those in varied countries, including specialized master’s degrees in data analytics, to satisfy the “rapid” growth of Bain’s global and digital businesses. 

MBA class sizes are not keeping pace with the growth in Bain’s hiring needs. Falling MBA application figures mean US schools are having to accept fewer students, or risk reducing the quality of their cohort. 

Bevans says some 500 people will join Bain’s 2019 intake, about the same as last year, with the majority of them being MBAs. But the proportion of new hires with MBAs is falling. “We need critical mass and so are forced to look elsewhere for talent,” says Bevans.   

The challenge of recruiting enough MBAs has been made more difficult by their growing interest in Big Tech careers at companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google.

Consulting firms hiring a more diverse range of people

An MBA has long been a ticket to a job at one of the so-called “big three” consultancy firms — McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain — otherwise collectively known as the ‘MBB’ firms. But there are signs that the firms’ decades-long dependence on MBAs is waning. 

About five years ago, a third of new hires at BCG had MBA degrees, according to the firm. In 2018 that number dropped to less than a quarter. Meanwhile Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s global managing partner, told the Financial Times recently he wanted the proportion of staff with MBAs to decrease from 37 percent to “less than a third”. 

One reason is the firms want to hire people from a more diverse range of backgrounds, such as those from the creative industries. This makes sense, given that consulting firms serve diverse and global clients. 

Nick South, a partner at BCG, says: “Whilst we are continuing to recruit MBAs and they remain a strong source of talent for our business, the relative share of MBAs in the overall mix of people we are recruiting is changing. 

“To support our growth we have developed a wider range of entry points and are increasingly hiring employees from other pools like PhDs, medical doctors, data scientists, data engineers and experienced industry hires.” For instance, fresh hires without a business education can take “mini MBA” courses to pick up the basics of business and mix with colleagues.  

A survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the organization that puts on the GMAT, found that around the same proportion of consulting companies polled planned to hire MBAs this year as in 2018. But seven percent more of the firms wanted to hire data analytics master’s graduates, and an additional eight percent plan to recruit non-business master’s alumni this year. Also, 86 percent envisioned increasing the number of data graduates hired, compared with 39 percent for MBAs. 

The big US-based consulting firms have also been hit by the Trump administration’s more stringent visa checks, making it harder for them to hire international MBAs from US business schools. “I’m hedging the risk by giving out more offers, regardless of whether people have US work authorization,” says Bain’s Bevans. “It’s an investment that’s important to us.”

MBAs have been mutually beneficial to management consulting firms since they emerged in the 1920s, when business schools arguably helped validate their budding profession. By outward appearances, the bond has been closest between McKinsey and Harvard Business School. So close in fact that Martin Kihn, a writer coined the phrase “McHarvard” in his controversial book on consulting, House of Lies

After all, Harvard pioneered the case method with support from McKinsey, which is good preparation for a consulting career as it mirrors the work firms do. The big three consulting firms still use the case-based interview to recruit MBAs. But they influence far more than business school recruitment. 

[See the Top 10 MBAs for Jobs in the Top-Three Strategy Consulting Firms]

Many MBA programs have consulting modules, for example, including at Imperial College and the University of Oxford’s business schools. Others like Warwick Business School run MSc degrees specifically geared to consulting, while some schools invite consultants to teach on their programs. 

Schools stress that MBAs are still highly valued by consulting firms. According to INSEAD’s 2018 employment report, 52 percent of MBA students joined the industry, up from 49 percent the previous year. “Consulting firms look for well-rounded individuals who have strong analytical, quantitative, problem solving [and] soft skills” which an MBA will help you hone, says Stephane Ponce, the school’s global consulting lead. 

South, at BCG adds: “MBA recruits uniquely combine prior work experience with a well-rounded business toolkit, typically gained from world-leading business schools offering unparalleled academic teaching standards.” 

The MBA is still a solid path into the lucrative consulting industry

At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, 32 percent of 2018 MBA graduates accepted positions at consulting firms, which accounted for six out of the school’s top 10 employers last year. Christy Gunville, senior director of the school’s Career Development Center, says strong demand from consulting firms is evidenced by historically high compensation, with Darden MBAs earning an average salary of $140,189 and $31,940 signing bonus in the industry. 

The fat paychecks, along with exposure to a wide variety of industries, big challenging projects, excellent networking, and rapid career acceleration remain attractive to MBA candidates, says Gunville. 

For those set on a consulting career, the firms’ desire to broaden their intake should not cause too much worry, as job opportunities are still extensive and are in some cases still growing. 

Bain, for one, last year ran its biggest ever summer internship scheme and nearly all the interns were MBA students, says Bevans. Approximately nine in 10 of those who finish the scheme received a job offer, with most accepting the offer. 

That is not enough to satisfy Bain’s hiring needs alone, but Bevans adds, encouragingly: “On a longer horizon we are extremely bullish on MBA hiring.” 

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<![CDATA[As MBA Applications Fall, Online and Specialized Master’s Courses Are Booming]]> The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business made headlines when it announced that it would close its flagship two-year full-time MBA program this year. The course was in business for nearly six decades, but falling student applications eventually made it unprofitable to run. 

The closure of a highly-rated MBA suggests that many prospective students are unwilling to make the sacrifices required to study full-time for two years — pausing their career, missing out on salary and promotions amid a strengthening US jobs market, and often incurring debt to finance one of the priciest degrees around. 

Instead, many would-be MBAs — and business schools themselves — are choosing flexible courses that can be completed faster and at lower cost.  

Tippie College, for example, closed its flagging MBA to focus on shorter, specialized degree programs that appeal to cost-conscious and time-starved managers. Less than a year after announcing the closure of its full-time program, Tippie announced that it will add an online MBA to its program roster in 2019. And Tippie College recently introduced two specialized master’s degrees, in finance and business analytics. Both exceeded enrolment expectations. 

“Adapting to the market is key for growth in any organization, and we’re seeing clear shifts in what students and businesses need,” says Sarah Gardial, Tippie’s dean. 

Is the full-time MBA fading away?

Long considered a must-have for budding investment bankers and management consultants, the traditional MBA has lost some luster. Last year, 70 percent of US schools that run full-time MBAs reported falls in applications to their two-year programs, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. Applications to business master’s degrees have risen elsewhere in the world, such as Asia and Canada. 

The drop-off raised important questions about the longevity of the traditional, full-time MBA. Even the most prestigious institutions, such as Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, reported a fall in application volume in 2018. 

As demand dwindles, some expect other US schools to close their full-time two-year MBAs, as they may become unprofitable to run. Schools in rural locations are thought to be most vulnerable, as it can be more challenging for them to access corporate recruiters, say admissions consultants. As are business schools attached to public universities, some of whose finances are coming under pressure as public funding is cut in some US states, such as New York. 

Chioma Isiadinso, former Harvard admissions officer and now co-founder of admissions advisory firm Expartus, says that top schools will weather the storm, but a few in the lower tier could be forced to close.The cost of running an effective MBA, the administrative cost, marketing, at some point it won’t make any sense [to continue],” she says. 

Referring to the closure of two-year full-time MBAs, Mark Taylor, dean of Olin Business School at Washington University, says: “The MBA market is a challenging one globally, and we likely haven’t seen the last of the reorganizations.” 

Olin will launch a 14-month version of its MBA in 2019. “Some people want to pursue an MBA in a condensed period, because they want to stay in the same industry or company, so their opportunity costs are minimized,” says Taylor. 

Yet for those who want to change careers, a two-year program provides time for deeper reflection, he says. Other two-year MBA students covet the summer internship, which is a route to post-degree jobs in industries such as banking and consumer goods. 

Some business schools may be reluctant to close their flagship MBAs because they enhance their overall brand. Being ranked by prestigious publications, such as the Financial Times and Bloomberg Businessweek, provides exposure. 

Also, closing an MBA could do schools reputational damage. The Wisconsin School of Business, for example, in 2017 abandoned a controversial plan to close its MBA, because of backlash from students, staff and alumni.  

The growth in alternatives to full-time MBA programs

Instead, many schools have added niche degrees that help students hone their skills for specific roles, such as finance or data science, or part-time online programs.

Indeed, in just the past year, a number of business schools offering highly-regarded full-time MBA programs—including Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and Australia’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM)—have all announced online or hybrid MBA programs.

Digital degrees were once seen as second-rate, says Isiadinso. No longer. “We’ve seen a major pendulum shift from that elitist view of traditional MBA programs being better, to more of an embracing of the [online MBA],” she says. “If you can get great career advancement without the disruption [to your career], why get a two-year MBA when the opportunity cost is so significant?” 

Online MBAs have grown strongly in number and stature. Cindy McCauley, executive director of online master’s programs at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, which runs an online MBA, says distance learning students have access to the same faculty and career services as full-time students. Tepper’s online learners also connect in-person several times a year, she says, opening up access to the business school’s vast network. 

Some US schools blame the fall in MBA application numbers on the negative immigration rhetoric of the current presidential administration — the fall was worst among international students. The difficulty these students face in accessing US work visas is another contributor to the US MBA application plunge. 

“As long as that inward-looking rhetoric dominates the US climate, at a minimum it’s a major turnoff for candidates looking at the likes of London Business School and INSEAD [in Europe],” says Isiadinso. “It puts American schools at a major disadvantage.” 

It is also becoming harder to tempt US professionals out of the workforce because the American economy is growing so strongly. 

However, full-time MBAs still have tangible benefits

Shelly Heinrich, associate dean of MBA admissions and director of marketing at Georgetown, is bullish on the future of the full-time two-year MBA, even though applications to her own institution’s course fell by 16.2 percent in 2018. 

“An MBA will be the mainstay of business schools for years to come,” she says, pointing out that two-year MBAs have competitive advantages over shorter programs. 

There is, for instance, time to do extra electives, case competitions and consulting projects, which are significant learning and networking opportunities. And two-year MBA students have more time to get involved with clubs and societies, which can develop leadership experience and enhance a CV. 

“There are many degrees where you can get in and out quickly, just taking the classes,” says Heinrich. “However, the two-year MBA provides an immersion in career preparation and hands-on leadership activities, in a way shorter programs often do not.” 

Heinrich adds that given the decrease in full-time MBA applications, the likelihood of being admitted may be slightly greater.  

Yet for a growing number of prospective students, shorter, cheaper online and specialized programs are attractive as a way to advance their career. 

But experts agree this does not herald the demise of the two-year MBA. While applications have dropped, the best programs still receive several thousand each year, and the quality of candidates does not appear to have decreased. 

“[Online and specialized master’s] programs won’t replace the Booth or Columbia or Harvard or Wharton MBA program,” says Isiadinso. “The people who do still want the two-year MBA, that market is still very robust and healthy.” 

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<![CDATA[Post-MBA Careers in Social Impact]]> Matt Stephenson felt conflicted when he quit his Goldman Sachs job at the inception of the financial crisis about a decade ago. 

The coveted Wall Street analyst job included covering mortgage-backed securities, which critics say contributed to the global economic collapse. “I started my career in investment banking at Goldman. I loved the work,” says Stephenson. 

But upon leaving the industry and seeing markets and economies crash, he “felt close” to the crisis and wanted to do work that makes a positive impact on society. “The only way [the 2008] crisis was possible was through mass complicity,” says Stephenson, recognizing the role his prior profession played in the crash. 

An MBA degree helped him make a fundamental career change to the education sector, first as a teacher but today he is a social entrepreneur.  

He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 2011 and, in 2016, founded the nonprofit organization Code2College. It connects minority and low-income high school students in Central Texas with engineers at technology companies, such as Google and IBM, who voluntarily teach the kids how to code. 

Like many MBA graduates who work in social impact, Stephenson was motivated by how satisfying and worthwhile it can be. “Some of the most rewarding parts of my day are seeing students learn from a volunteer from an organization which they may live 10 miles from, but would never have thought they could work at,” he says. “A lightbulb goes off and they can see themselves in these roles.” 

For many MBA graduates, for whom the memories of the Great Recession are still vivid, working in the “social impact” sector is appealing as a way to use their business management skills to make a difference. 

MBAs prioritize ‘impact’ over financial rewards

A survey of 1,500 MBA students by Bain & Company, the consultancy firm, found that 66 percent of women and 59 percent of men planned to prioritize “impact” over financial rewards in their careers. 

“In part, it’s a generational thing,” says Erin Worsham, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “These students were raised in a society where they have exposure to many social issues that are prevalent though social media and 24/7 news networks, so there’s more awareness of them.” 

According to annual polls by the advisory company Deloitte of millennials — those aged between 18-35, a time when people typically do an MBA — 83 percent believed corporations should make positive societal or environmental impact a priority, not only maximizing shareholder return. 

[See the Top Business Schools for Sustainability / CSR / Social Entrepreneurship]

Gauging how many MBA graduates work in social impact is difficult because it is possible to put purpose above profits in many industries that do not fall under the sector’s definition, such as finance. 

Fuqua alumna Beth Bafford, for example, is vice-president for syndications and strategy at Calvert Impact Capital, a nonprofit investment firm helping underserved communities access capital markets. 

Having previously worked in the public sector, she discovered “impact investing” at business school between 2010-12. “It is a perfect setting to learn more about yourself, the industries you’re interested in, and how to apply your skillsets to work for good,” says Bafford, adding that she met a former Calvert CEO at Fuqua.  

She worked a stint at consultancy firm McKinsey & Company on graduation, however. Bafford explains that she wanted to see how the private sector operates, rather than pay off student debt in a lucrative industry, as some MBA graduates do before switching to social impact. “I believe that any major global challenge has to be solved with the participation and engagement of all three sectors — public, private and social,” she says. 

Alumni stories such as Bafford’s are common, according to Worsham. “When I pursued my MBA [at Stanford between 2003-05], impact was a narrow field consisting mostly of nonprofit or government work,” she says. “Students still pursue those paths, but there is diversification. They can pursue impact in so many different ways.”  

This MBA wants to eradicate poverty in Peru’s Andean region

Marta del Rio Villanueva spent a decade working for global brands such as Burger King and American Express after getting her INSEAD MBA in 1991.

But she then returned to her native Peru and founded the snacks business Wasi Organics with an INSEAD MBA alumna, in 2013. Its products, packed with “superfoods” that are high in antioxidants such as cacao or quinoa, promote health and wellbeing. 

Del Rio Villanueva aspires to eradicate poverty in Peru’s Andean region by sourcing locally grown foods, integrating farmers’ associations into her supply chain. 

She says: “I wanted to do more. I had this theory about what type of businesses will last. I wanted to prove that a business can have an impact on society, on the environment and turn a profit. And I also wanted to pave a path for young entrepreneurs in Latin America.” 

The INSEAD MBA gave her the confidence, tools and network she needed to build the social enterprise that works with 500 families and plans to reach 10,000 by 2023. 

“This is by far the most challenging job I ever had,” Del Rio Villanueva says, explaining that she manages a myriad of functions simultaneously. “It is anything but boring.” 

Her advice for those who also want to do well by doing good is: “Whatever you choose [to do], make sure you have the purpose, the passion, the skills, and your own definition of success.” 

But social impact work pays less than some other career paths

One challenge for MBA graduates is: social impact work tends to pay less than traditional career paths, though many say the trade-off is that it’s rewarding in other ways. At Wharton, for instance, those working in the social impact industry last year earned a median annual salary of $96,500, compared with $150,000 in consulting, and $130,000 in both financial services and technology, according to the school’s own reporting. 

Fuqua addressed the problem, offering students financial awards, for example “full-ride” scholarships covering tuition and other MBA costs, and stipends worth up to $15,000 to pursue summer internships with impact, says Worsham. “We help our students pick the career they have the most passion about regardless of what the financial implications are.” 

Back at Code2College, Stephenson says the Wharton MBA has been “invaluable” to the non-profit organization’s fundraising effort, as it seeks to expand from 250 admitted students in 2018 to 1,000 in 2019. 

“I took negotiations with Adam Grant and his course has categorically improved my approach to relationships,” he says, explaining that he shifted from a transactional approach to a relational one. “I attribute my ability to secure over $30,000 during our first fundraising push thanks to Adam Grant,” he adds. 

]]> Wed, 09 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Europe Enjoys a Boom in MBA Applications at America’s Expense]]> From the UK’s Brexit negotiations to populism in Italy and Spain’s separatism, Europe is split, but that has not dampened demand for business education. Many MBA programs on the continent are enjoying heady application growth. Even in the UK, Brexit uncertainty has done little to stymie applications to the top schools. 

Excluding Britain, applications to European business master’s degrees grew by 3.2 percent this year compared with 2017, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. Their growth has come at the expense of US schools, which experienced a 6.6 percent drop in applications year-on-year in 2018. 

Europe’s shorter MBA programs, cheaper fees, more international cohorts, and progressive visa rules are proving increasingly attractive to students. At Switzerland’s IMD, 2018 applications to the MBA are up by 63 percent versus the year before. Germany’s ESMT Berlin reports a near-50 percent MBA application surge during that period. 

But the biggest surprise is how well the UK has fared since the country voted to leave the EU in 2016. UK schools had fretted that leaving the single market could potentially deprive them of international students, academics, and the EU funding for research that informs MBA teaching. 

%link_box_sc_{"text": "See all MBA programs in Europe", "link": "/schools/europe"}%

They were also concerned that some of the largest employers of their graduates, including banks, would move some jobs overseas to maintain access to the bloc. 

But in one way Brexit has been beneficial for UK schools: the pound’s plunge has made their courses more attractive to students from abroad. This is one reason why, despite the Brexit uncertainty, application volume to UK schools grew by 3.9 percent this year compared with 2017, GMAC data show. 

New entrants have even entered the market, including King’s Business School in London, which opened its doors in 2017. (King’s does not offer an MBA but does offer a range of MSc programs.)

“We are based in London, but we are a global school,” says David Simpson, MBA admissions director at London Business School, which reports a 10 percent increase in round-one applications for its 2019 intake, after a 10 percent dip for 2018’s intake overall. “Brexit doesn’t change our global approach — it makes it even more important,” Simpson says. 

MBA application growth driven by international students

The expansion of business education in Europe is driven largely by international students. GMAC data show that 77 percent of the 2018 applications were from foreign students, far more than the 41 percent figure in Asia and 39 percent for US schools. 

And for 63 percent of the European institutions surveyed by GMAC, they received more international applications year-on-year. This has been a boon for them, as a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives enhances the MBA learning experience for everyone. 

The opposite has been true for US schools, where concerns about work visas and the negative immigration rhetoric of Donald Trump’s administration (among other factors), have led to a 10.5 percent fall in overseas student demand this year compared to 2017. 

Benoit Banchereau, director of MBA admissions at HEC Paris, a French Grande École, says that political instability in both the UK and US is an opportunity for European schools. 

“Some foreign students are wondering if it’s safe to go there [to the US] and have a feeling that it’s not welcoming anymore, which is incredible,” he says. “The MBA population likes to think it can work anywhere in the world. With Brexit it may be more complicated to get a visa, and this stays in prospective students’ minds.”

Banchereau says the school has invested heavily in marketing itself to international students over the past two years. HEC Paris received 2,231 applications in 2017, up by 5.6 percent on the year before, and by 11.9 percent on 2015. The proportion of overseas students in the current cohort is largely unchanged at around 90-95 percent, he says. 

However, political instability persists, even in Europe

However, France — like some other European countries — has faced political instability in recent months, with demonstrators wreaking havoc in cities including Paris in protests over tax rises. Banchereau says HEC Paris was spared any damage, as it’s located in Jouy-en-Josas just outside the French capital. “We have not had any questions from prospective students about gilets jaunes,” he says, referencing the “yellow vest” protests. 

Seán Meehan, dean of IMD’s MBA, puts the school’s recent growth spurt largely down to its success in the Forbes 2017 ranking of the best one-year MBAs for return on investment (ROI). According to the publication, IMD graduates enjoy a five-year “MBA gain” of $194,700 (the amount alumni earn after five years versus staying in their pre-MBA job). 

Meehan also notes that IMD has streamlined its application process, too, and reduced application fees as well.

Applicants apply to European schools for multiple reasons, says Alex Min, CEO of US-based admissions advisory firm The MBA Exchange. “In addition to lower expense, shorter duration and more welcoming immigration rules, 11 of the Financial Times’ top-25 ranked business schools are located outside the US, and they have higher acceptance rates than elite US schools,” he says. “This combination of ‘prestige and access’ is a very attractive proposition.”

He notes that more of his international clients are factoring the US visa issues into their admissions decisions. Many would-be MBAs are drawn to European schools by the relatively easy access study and work visas in nations such as Germany and the Netherlands. 

“However, rather than eliminating US schools from their target lists, they are hedging their bets by including top European, Asian and/or Canadian schools along with leading US schools,” says Min. 

But not all European countries are perceived to be welcoming of internationals and the political instability across the continent is a big concern for the MBA market going forward. At IMD, Meehan says: “The political climate in Switzerland has become challenging — there’s fewer visas available and the process has become more arduous. It’s an issue.”

]]> Thu, 03 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[International MBA Students Find it Tougher to get an H-1B Visa in the US]]> When Pablo Gonzalez enrolled on the MBA program at Washington DC’s McDonough School of Business three years ago, the Spaniard’s classmates warned him that it would be difficult to get hired in the US. 

For decades, coming to what today is the world’s biggest economy for business school had been a (fairly) sure-fire way for international students to secure well-paid jobs at prestigious US companies, such as Microsoft, McKinsey & Company or Goldman Sachs. 

But America’s more stringent visa rules and negative immigration rhetoric have made it much harder to do that in recent years. 

On graduation in 2017, Rueda landed a job at a US sustainable investment firm using the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows master’s graduates to work for a year in the US. The employer agreed to sponsor him for the highly skilled work visa scheme known as H-1B, once the OPT year ended. 

There are 85,000 H-1B visas granted each year — 20,000 are reserved for master’s students. In 2018, there were over 199,000 applications for the visas overall, implying that approximately 43 percent of companies who asked for sponsorship were successful. 

Rueda was fortunate to receive a H-1B visa, but he says it was “like tossing a coin”. And those chances appear to recently have diminished somewhat. Fewer than half — 47 percent — of US companies planned to hire international business school graduates in 2018, down from 55 percent in 2017, according to an employer survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). 

Some US companies are reluctant to hire foreign workers

Despite a buoyant economy that is approaching full employment, business school administrators say that some US companies are more reluctant to hire foreign workers. One reason is that the US administration under president Donald Trump is now more closely scrutinizing H-1B applications. These applications are made by an employer on behalf of a candidate, who is required to supply evidence of a degree from an accredited institution and a job offer, among other documents. 

At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, for example, the proportion of international students securing a job offer within three months of graduation was 85 percent in 2018, down from 92 percent in 2017. That compares with a 94 percent employment rate for American students this year. NYU Stern School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business have also seen the gap between American and international student employment rates widen (slightly) this year. 

Maureen Carenter, assistant dean of the McDonough School’s MBA Career Center, says that companies are expressing, more explicitly, their preference for job candidates who already have US work authorization than in the past. 

Since most MBA graduates are able to work in the US during the summer with a student visa, they often apply for jobs that require work authorization, in the hope of securing sponsorship after being hired. 

But now employers are advertising jobs that are specifically for candidates who will not require sponsorship in the future, Carpenter says, without providing an example of such a company. 

“Our advice to students is to focus on their prior work experience and to clearly articulate the value that can provide to the employer,” she says. 

Schools report that, anecdotally, far more applications for H1-B visas from MBA candidates are being sent back for extra documentation, or are being rejected outright. In particular, the US administration wants to see that the courses students are taking align with the roles that they’re applying to. 

Denise Karaoli, senior associate director for international programs, opportunities and diversity at the Darden School, says “we see a huge increase in RFEs [Requests for Evidence] and a major increase in denials” of H-1B applications. 

“One of the things they’re saying, which is really throwing a wrench in the MBA industry, is that the MBA category is too vague to make the case for these jobs,” says Karaoli. “And they’re looking more for a speciality degree or concentration.” 

Rueda, the Spanish MBA graduate, was asked to supply evidence of academic qualifications and a letter proving offer of employment. His company was asked for other documentation and Rueda estimates that it cost the employer between $3-5,000 in legal fees to secure his H-1B visa. 

“In terms of the economic cost, it’s not something that pushes companies away because most will be able to pay it,” he says. “So it’s more the dedication and knowledge of the process that they need. My advice is to be informed and try to help your manager, company and the lawyers with the documentation,” he says. “And don’t make a big deal out of the visa.” 

Visa crackdown affecting MBA grads

When the Trump administration (officially) came to power in 2017, it signalled changes to the H-1B scheme that would seemingly actually benefit business school graduates. The government wanted to clamp down on visa fraud, targeting lower skilled and lower paid work, mostly in the outsourcing sector.

But now the visa crackdown is hitting the lucrative work that MBA graduates go for, such as consulting or financial services. 

Darden’s Karaoli likens the H-1B program today with America’s “Green Card” system, in which some candidates have to prove that they are “exceptional” to get a US work visa. “Unless there is a stellar candidate, it’s very difficult for an employer to make the case for a H-1B visa,” she says. “In my 12 years in this field, I’ve never seen it this bad.” 

Some US companies are lobbying intensively to get the visa regulations changed, so as to make it easier for them to hire internationals. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, along with Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, and many others have spoken out against the Trump administration’s approach to immigration in response to a controversial travel ban. 

US companies have warned of a “brain drain” of talent out of America, which they argue would damage the country’s economic competitiveness. 

Some companies see a risk in taking on foreign MBA grads

The uncertainty around the future of US visas is having an impact on employers’ hiring choices, according to a career coach at a top US MBA program. 

“Companies are increasingly nervous to take on the risk of a student that requires sponsorship, given the unknown of the current immigration laws,” says the coach, who also works for Stacy Blackman Consulting, an MBA admissions advisory firm. 

“Companies that sponsored in the past are now not,” this person adds. “Even if they say they ‘are’, they sometimes will communicate to us internally that they would only take a ‘rock star’ international student over a domestic one.” 

This is having a damaging impact on application numbers to US schools. Some 71 percent of their flagship two-year, full-time MBA courses suffered a decline in applications in 2018, according to GMAC. Meanwhile, in Canada, Europe and Asia, applications to business master’s courses overall appear to be booming. 

Commenting on the fall in US application volumes, Bill Boulding, dean of Duke Fuqua and chair of GMAC’s board, said: “Access is a critical issue facing higher education. Economic indicators in the US are strong, but if we are to maintain such growth and productivity, we need to make it possible for people from all different regions and backgrounds to study and work in the location they desire. If that doesn’t happen, we limit not only the possibility of an individual, but also continued economic prosperity in the US and growth around the world.”

The McDonough School reported this year that applications to the MBA fell by 16.2 percent compared with 2017. Amid the more challenging outlook for international students, the school provides career development for them that is focused on networking in the US, highlighting their skills, and finding companies willing to sponsor them, says Carpenter. But under the current visa regime, that is by no means guaranteed.  

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<![CDATA[MBA Applications: What to do When You Are Waitlisted]]> The competition for places makes applying to business school a stressful process, but one element of MBA admissions that is universally dreaded by applicants is: waitlisting. 

Being placed on the waitlist means you are in limbo between being admitted and rejection. It means the admissions team likes your application, but not enough to offer you a place — yet. 

Business schools use waitlisting to hedge their bets while they wait to see who applies in later selection rounds, according to Chioma Isiadinso, founder of the Expartus admissions consulting firm and former admissions board member at Harvard Business School (HBS).

Since not everyone who is admitted to a school will accept the offer, admissions teams can replace them with a waitlisted candidate, which is good for a school’s “yield”, she says. The benchmark for showing which proportion of students accept an admissions offer, yield is important because it serves as a popularity index for prospective students. 

Because there is limited space in each MBA class, admissions teams also use waitlisting to balance out their incoming cohort by nationality, gender, career aspirations et al. “If a candidate is placed on the waitlist, probably it’s because there is another admitted candidate with a similar background already,” says Anna Farrus, MBA admissions director at IMD in Switzerland. 

“Every year we have candidates who are unable to join our program due to significant changes in their personal circumstances, and at this point we will find the person in the waitlist with a similar background to fill that place,” she says. 

Has your MBA application been waitlisted? You’re still ‘in the game’

While challenging, being on the waitlist is a dynamic process, and plenty of waitlisted candidates are admitted to schools, often in every selection round. 

Being waitlisted is not always a judgement on the quality of your application, or lack thereof, says Shari Hubert, associate dean for admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “It can depend on the strength of the applicant pool, which is outside of your scope of control,” she says. 

Duke Fuqua may waitlist candidates because they want more information on them. “There may be an area of your application that isn’t as strong as the rest, or an area where you weren’t able to fully tell your story within the space provided,” says Hubert. 

Indeed, waitlisted applicants “are still in the game”, says Esther Magna, principal at Stacy Blackman Consulting (SBC), which advises MBA applicants. 

There are steps waitlisted candidates can take to boost their chances of being accepted. Most schools publish guidelines on what new information they will accept from waitlisted applicants, and this is a good place to start — Duke Fuqua hosts webinars for waitlisted candidates.

Magna advises applicants to discover the weakness of their application, such as a low GMAT score or essays that fail to demonstrate leadership, that could make the admissions team hesitant to offer them a place. “Identify them and take action on them,” she says. “A promotion, raise, or an award is almost always a useful piece of information to share.”

Demonstrating a commitment to the school can also help. One of SBC’s clients, who applied to Duke Fuqua, turned a waitlist decision into an admissions offer by sending the admissions team a photo of his child wearing a Fuqua shirt. “Some programs are ‘suckers’ for kids,” Magna says, though she warns that this won’t work for all schools. 

Hubert encourages the sharing of updates with the admissions team about interactions with the business school’s community. “This could include insights gained through a campus visit, connections an applicant has made with current students or alumni, or events they have attended,” she says. “Waitlisted candidates can demonstrate their interest and sincere desire to attend,” she adds. “It can make a difference.” 

Isiadinso, at Expartus, says that student and alumni recommendations can be helpful, but they need to know you well and offer new and compelling information. “It is important that the candidate knows the school really well and highlights how they can fit and contribute,” she says. “Leveraging students can go a long way.” 

One of her firm’s clients was waitlisted by HBS because she was young and did not have a great deal of work experience. A letter from a recommender to the admissions team, that reiterated the work impact and achievements the client had, helped her secure a place on the MBA. 

But don’t make yourself a nuisance by harassing the waitlist manager, Isiadinso says. “An email confirming your acceptance and then a detailed and strategic email after you’ve identified what is missing in your application makes sense,” she says. “Checking in every week will only annoy the waitlist manager and land your application in the reject bin.” 

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<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: NUS Vs. Nanyang]]> Singapore’s cosmopolitan environment, multinational corporations and healthy job opportunities are a boon for prospective business school students. And if you’re set on Singapore for your MBA, you will likely be considering both NUS Business School and Nanyang, two of the finest educators in the city-state. 

Singapore provides a natural advantage to both institutions, according to Jenifer Raver, the former director of the Yale-NUS College, a liberal arts college based there. Now a consultant at Fortuna Admissions, Raver says: “Singapore is one of the safest places on earth and is extremely multicultural. 

“There are excellent professional opportunities for qualified graduates in Singapore, and both NUS and Nanyang have for many years featured among the best performing schools in the FT Global MBA Ranking for the percentage of MBA graduates who are employed within three months of graduating. 

“Business schools here have in recent years worked with students to find jobs not only in Singapore, but in Southeast Asia and greater Asia.”

Raver adds that the salary increase in percentage terms among NUS and Nanyang MBA graduates is among the highest in the world. 

NUS vs Nanyang: MBA programs

While there is much that binds NUS and Nanyang, the two schools are distinct in their own right. One of the big differences between them is the length of their MBA programs. Nanyang’s 12 month course means the opportunity cost for students, of quitting work and forgoing a salary, is far lower, though both courses charge the same in tuition fees: S$62,000 ($45,000). 

But Nanyang’s “compressed schedule” means that students have a heavier workload, says Nick Soriano, who was previously the director of admissions at both Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore, which house the Nanyang and NUS Business Schools, respectively. 

And at 17 months, the NUS MBA provides time enough for an internship, which can be crucial for securing a full-time job in some sectors, such as investment banking and management consulting. 

The NUS MBA’s longer length means that it also provides students with a wider range of modules than Nanyang does. NUS has unique specializations as part of the MBA, including healthcare management and real estate. Students at the school can also opt to combine their MBA with a master’s in public policy.  

That said, Nanyang does offer a broad base of technology-focused courses, drawing on the renowned strength of its research-focused host university, Nanyang Technological University. 

Tess Wartanian, a European MBA candidate at NUS, says that the program focuses on “contributing to the community” in addition to the bottom line. “The NUS MBA is all about transformation for leaders of the future,” says the former digital media consultant from Austria. 

She adds: “I chose NUS specifically because of its long tradition and renowned faculty. I wanted to understand Asian culture and ways of business, which made NUS more attractive as a school, which has a strong heritage and history in Singapore.”

As a plus, she says NUS provides a great community and campus experience with many opportunities to be part of clubs or other extracurricular activities. 

NUS vs Nanyang: MBA career outcomes 

Wartanian was admitted to Tsinghua University in Beijing, with a scholarship to boot, but decided that NUS would “provide me with more diverse career opportunities”. 

Chizuko Okada, associate director of Agos Japan, one of Asia’s leading admissions consultancy firms, says that NUS has a strong global brand. “Alumni tell me that they can take advantage of the branding and network of NUS [to land jobs].” 

[See also: Working in Singapore After an MBA There]

Soriano adds that NUS is perceived to have strong career services and “more solid relationships with employers”. 

But employment outcomes appear to be broadly similar, according to the latest career reports. Some 98 percent of Nanyang and 96 percent of NUS MBA graduates are employed within three months. The mean salary achieved by NUS graduates on graduation is about $66,000, while Nanyang’s MBAs earn $132,000 three years after graduating, a 125 percent increase on their pre-MBA pay. 

The most popular employment destination among the NUS graduates is financial services, with 19 percent of the cohort going into the industry, followed by technology (18 percent). 

At Nanyang, the majority of the students stay in Singapore (37 percent), with 30 percent remaining in east Asia, 12 percent in Europe; 7 percent in the Americas. 

NUS vs Nanyang: admissions and culture 

Admissions consultants say that both schools have similar levels of selectivity when it comes to admitting or rejecting candidates. In addition, both MBA cohorts are of a comparable quality. 

But Nanyang attracts a younger class, with the average age 28 and average years of work experience six, compared with 30 and six at NUS. 

The school also attracts more women, with 40 percent of the cohort female and overall the MBA students come from 20 different nationalities, though at NUS 88 percent of the class is international. 

Alexandre Romualdo Thome, an MBA student at Nanyang, says the diversity is a huge benefit. “As a Brazilian, having the chance to study and work with colleagues from over 20 different nationalities, mainly from Asia, allows me to be better prepared for my future goals of working in the region.” 

He was admitted to the NUS MBA but turned it down, preferring Nanyang’s shorter program and its SPAN consultancy project. “It gives participants the opportunity to work and help companies in real-life challenges they are facing,” he says. “This allows students to not only apply concepts learned during the MBA, but also to get to know a different company, industry and culture.” 

Romualdo Thome says that in order to choose the right school, you need to talk to alumni and current students. “Get detailed information from a student perspective and assess which program will support you better to achieve your goals.”

]]> Thu, 06 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[The 10 Most Popular MBA Specializations]]> It’s often said that variety is the spice of life. And that seems to be the mantra for MBA programs today. Although a generalist degree, business schools are adding a growing number of “specializations” to their MBA courses that give students a deeper dive into subjects such as big data analytics, entrepreneurship or social impact. 

The INSEAD MBA, for example, now features 75 different optional elective courses. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and neuroscience are just a few of the modules introduced in the past 18 months — subjects that were barely discussed at business schools even a decade ago.

The twin forces of supply and demand are behind the increase in personalized MBA programs, with both students and employers demanding curriculum changes, as schools strive to keep a degree that is more than a century old relevant in an age of rapid economic, social and technological transformation. 

“We are constantly updating the portfolio of courses to reflect market trends and needs of recruiters, requests from students and new faculty research,” says Andrea Masini, MBA associate dean at HEC Paris. 

[Browse MBA programs by specialization]

The French school offers seven MBA specializations, with the latest two — on digital transformation and sustainability, and disruptive innovation — introduced in September this year following a curriculum review. For HEC Paris, a specialization is an integrated bundle of seven courses (144 hours in total) dedicated to a specific subject. Every HEC Paris student is required to enroll in one specialization, unless they do an exchange program with another school. 

In addition to specializations, the school offers many optional elective courses, including in subjects such as diversity, strategy and finance. 

MBA specializations: reflecting priorities of the corporate world

Masini says there has been a strong appetite for more technical courses around digital innovation and its many ramifications. There’s also a clamour for courses on soft skills and the analysis of ethical and social issues. This reflects the priorities of the corporate world today — many companies are under pressure to transform with technology and consider their role in society or the environment, beyond maximizing shareholder value. 

Paula Steisel Goldfarb, NYU Stern’s associate dean for MBA admissions, financial aid and academic affairs, says that customized courses “prepare students for the specific business challenges and problems that they will be required to solve in their fields of choice”. 

Stern MBA students can select up to three specializations from a list of 25, such as fintech, luxury marketing, or entertainment, media and technology (or they can choose none). New courses for spring 2019 include commercialization of frontier technologies and financial statement analysis using Python, a programming language. Steisel Goldfarb says the courses “are often developed based on anticipated skills needed in the business world and student interest”. 

For instance, Stern recently housed the Creative Destruction Lab, which supports the monetization of science and tech startups. An affiliated MBA course was introduced as a result, to provide students with direct access to the venture development process. 

An MBA specialization can add an edge in the job market

For Masini, offering niche courses is a way for HEC Paris to differentiate itself from other schools. “A specialization is the differentiating factor that provides participants with new skills and knowledge that they can use on the job market to transform their career, change industry or function,” he says. 

HEC Paris is planning new courses on business analytics, programming, macroeconomics, cross-cultural and conflict management, he says. 

But with dozens of MBA specializations, how can students avoid being overwhelmed and make the right choices? 

Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions firm, says that career goals should be the primary driver. Generalist MBA degrees offer greater breadth, while specializing in a subject as part of the program offers more depth. “People who opt for the former may not feel ready to pursue a single function or industry,” Min says. “Those who choose the latter are sufficiently confident about their professional plan.” 

He adds that MBA candidates should also consider the possibility of changing their career goals in the future. “The more specialized one’s education, the more difficult it may be to switch to another industry. The transferability of a degree is an important consideration.” 

With memories of the Great Recession still vivid, many students may want to reduce their risk of future job loss or immobility by getting a degree that can facilitate moves into new fields, Min adds.   

An MBA specialization as an investment

Some specializations pay more than others and that may be a factor in a student’s decision, too, because an MBA is a huge financial investment and ensuring a return is important. According to data from PayScale, strategy is by far the best-paid MBA specialization — nearly $150,000 by mid-career. Entrepreneurship, corporate finance, innovation management, and economics are the next best-paid.  

However, Min says that compensation is not as important as satisfaction. “If an individual believes a certain specialization is likely to result in a future filled with challenge, impact and pride — that is probably the right choice for them. In most cases, the money will follow.” 

Business finance was the MBA specialization with the highest rate of satisfaction (89 percent), according to PayScale, but it also came with high levels of stress. On balance, strategy was best overall — with a 71 percent satisfaction rate, 35 percent stress rate, and a 48 percent score on how meaningful the work was. 

Despite the growth in popularity of newer and innovative courses like AI, many business schools report that the traditional fields of finance and strategy remain the most popular among their MBA students. The choice of specializations varies greatly from one year to the next, and there is a concern that students may gain a great deal of knowledge in a subject that may one day become obsolete. 

Schools are quick to say that the MBA remains a generalist qualification, despite the increased customization of the degree. 

Minh Huy Lai, managing director of the INSEAD MBA program, says: “Employers know that when they recruit graduates from INSEAD they hire a well-rounded and agile leader…Rather than specialists in certain industries. 

Nevertheless, having an in-depth knowledge in a subject does help for certain sectors, such as luxury, healthcare and sports.” 

10 Most Popular MBA Specializations

  1. Finance (See all MBA programs in Finance)
  2. Accounting (See all MBA programs in Accounting)
  3. Marketing (See all MBA programs in Marketing)
  4. General management (See all General MBA Programs)
  5. Entrepreneurship (See all MBA programs in Entrepreneurship)
  6. Consulting (See all MBA programs in Consulting)
  7. Information Systems (See all MBA programs in Information Technology)
  8. Strategy (See all MBA programs in Strategy)
  9. International Business (See all MBA programs in International Business)
  10. Healthcare Administration (See all MBA programs in Healthcare)

Source: Ready4 

]]> Thu, 22 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: Oxford Saïd Vs. Cambridge Judge]]> On the face of it, there is more that binds than separates the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. After all, the two universities, both established in the Middle Ages, are often collectively lumped together as ‘Oxbridge.’ One of the biggest challenges faced by applicants considering the two UK schools is looking at them as separate entities.

Both of the MBA programs run for one year and start in September, and offer an internship option in the final semester. Both are embedded in very famous and prestigious universities and are often defined by the collegial systems in place at the universities. The young business schools — Saïd’s precursor was founded in the 1960s; Judge in 1990 — bask in the strong brand associated with the wider institutions. 

“Many applicants are attracted by how interconnected the business schools are to the parent university and the college system,” says Stacy Blackman, president of admissions firm Stacy Blackman Consulting. “The college systems at Oxford and Cambridge are a strong selling point for both schools due to the networking opportunities and diverse experience that this provides.” 

But scratch beneath the surface and differences begin to appear. Judge has outperformed Saïd in the FT and Economist MBA rankings of the past two years, in part reflecting the higher salary outcomes of the smaller Judge cohort and a greater focus on social enterprise at Saïd, which is known to pay less than more traditional MBA industries like finance. 

The University of Oxford's Saïd Business School offers a Full-Time MBA and an Executive MBAOxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: Location 

The schools also benefit from close proximity to employers in London, with both located about an hour from the UK capital by train. Cambridge and Oxford are busy and historic university towns. The University of Cambridge has about 21,500 students enrolled (as per 2017 data), whereas the University of Oxford has just under 24,000 enrolled, giving it a larger town feel. 

Cambridge has the “Silicon Fen” ecosystem of technology and biotech startups, which continues to be a big draw for students and entrepreneurs. “One of the primary motivations that drove my choice of the Cambridge MBA is its proximity to the Silicon Fen, one of the most important technology centers in Europe,” says Somesh Dwivedi, a Cambridge Judge MBA alumnus who turned down offers from two other schools. 

Oxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: MBA cohorts and culture 

Both business schools are looking for diverse students, with Saïd typically attracting a higher number of nationalities and Judge drawing from a wide range of sectors, such as the arts. 

Some 50 different nationalities are represented in Judge’s MBA cohort, which has an average of six years’ work experience. About 36 percent of the class is female and the average GMAT score is 693. Around half come from finance and consulting, 46 percent from industry and 5 percent from the public and other sectors. 

Saïd has 62 nationalities among its cohort, which has on average five years’ professional experience. Some 39 percent of the class is female and the median GMAT is 690. 

The school does not publish the industry breakdown of its intake, but a former Saïd admissions officer, who now works for Stacy Blackman Consulting, says: “They tend to attract about 25 percent of their class from finance, 20 percent from consulting, 10 percent from social impact/NGO, and 45 percent from industry, with a strong technology representation.” 

Saïd declined to comment for this article.  

The school has a significantly larger class with 315 students, compared with only 200 at Judge. “The smaller class size at Judge lends itself to closer collaboration, whilst you’ll get a wider networking base at Oxford,” says Emma Bond, a director at Fortuna Admissions. 

“But at both schools you become a member of a ‘college’, so can access the wider university network. And with Judge’s new building, the school is looking to grow its class, so these differences may reduce.” 

Cambridge - Judge is a popular destination for many full-time MBA studentsOxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: MBA curriculums 

As of 2018, the Saïd MBA costs £57,200 in tuition, while the Judge MBA is £55,000. 

Both programs offer compulsory core subjects in accounting, strategy and more, as well as giving students the option to choose electives from a wide portfolio. But Judge offers specializations — in areas such as digital transformation and social innovation — whereas Saïd does not. 

Judge is also big on “experiential”, or practical learning. “It is one of the most practical programs around, evidenced by the fact that there are up to four consulting projects baked into the curriculum, giving students ample opportunity to apply classroom learning to real-life business scenarios,” says the Judge alumnus Dwivedi, who consulted Bentley Motors as part of his MBA. “It was one of the highlights of the program.” 

Saïd, meanwhile, has a specific focus on students tackling “world” problems based on case studies with a focus on social and environmental responsibility, says Bond. 

Jielin Zhang, a Saïd MBA graduate, adds: “One thing that is truly unique about Saïd is its strong focus on leveraging business tools to advance social innovations and to create social impact through research, incubation and application. Some courses and initiatives are very much contributing to solving existing social, economic, and environmental challenges.” 

Oxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: MBA admissions requirements and selectivity

The two schools have similar admissions requirements; they require a good GMAT or GRE score (admissions firms say you should aim for 650 or more), similar levels of prior work experience (two at Saïd and three at Judge), and a good undergraduate degree, though Judge is hotter on undergraduate performance, says Fortuna’s Bond. 

Judge also has three required essays, whereas Saïd only has one compulsory essay. The latter asks for two reference letters, but Judge only requires one.  

The bigger difference, according to admissions consultants, is that Judge places more weight on the admissions interview. “If you’re successful, you get invited to an interview day and these seem to be really important to attend,” says Bond. 

Saïd received more applications in 2017/18: 1,586 versus 1,286 for Judge. The schools do not release their acceptance rates. However, on a ratio of application to class size, Judge has a slightly lower rate than Saïd. 

Judge declined to comment for this article, saying: “We avoid participating in selective comparisons that may not reflect all of what CJBS is trying to achieve for students.” 

Both Cambridge and Oxford are about an hour's train ride away from LondonOxford Saïd vs Cambridge Judge: MBA career outcomes 

Some 92 percent of Judge’s MBAs had job offers three months after graduating last year. For Saïd it was 91 percent. Judge’s MBAs made £71,682 in average salary in Europe, compared with £71,094 at Saïd (excluding the UK). 

At Saïd about 29 percent ended up in finance, 22 percent in consulting, 10 percent in social impact and 21 percent in technology. At Judge, 19 percent of those employed were in consulting and 25 percent in finance. Technology is the largest employment sector for the remainder of the graduates.

Bond says: “If you’re focused on social entrepreneurship you probably want to be looking at Said… whereas if you’ve got a strong tech focus or want to try out strategy consulting, you might want to aim for Judge and the Silicon Fen. Those Judge grads who do stay in Cambridge are likely to be working for tech start-ups.” 

]]> Mon, 12 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Do you Need a High GPA to Get Into a Top MBA?]]> Do you need a high GPA to get into a top MBA? 

Chioma Isiadinso, founder of admissions firm Expartus and former admissions officer at Harvard Business School, says a high grade point average is extremely important for securing a place. “It signals not just academic ability, but commitment to putting in the effort over a long period of time and it is a way for schools to benchmark you against the competition,” she says. 

She says a low GPA — under a 3.5 — will handicap an application to a top MBA program because many business schools are reluctant to admit candidates with scores that will lower their GPA average — which applicants use to judge how “elite” an MBA cohort is and which affects their position in rankings. 

But while important, a high GPA is not essential. Each year plenty of candidates are admitted to top schools with scores that are below — or above — the average. 

The Georgetown McDonough MBA class average GPA is 3.3 and if a candidate has a score below 3.0, the school looks for other evidence of performance. Anne Kilby, director of MBA admissions and operations, says that a high standardized test score, such as on the GMAT or GRE, can offset a poor GPA. 

She adds that candidates could also take online courses in quantitative subjects, such as those offered by the MBA Math website, or an accredited institution, to prove their academic rigour. “These are ways to build the admissions committee’s confidence,” she says. 

When evaluating a GPA, the admissions team pays close attention to quant grades because they are very relevant to many MBA classes. “The most common courses include statistics, accounting, or micro and macroeconomics,” Kilby says. “We do find that having had exposure to quantitative courses contributes to students’ success in the MBA.” 

Kelly Wilson, executive director of masters admissions at the Tepper School of Business, says the admissions team considers also the quality of the undergraduate college attended, as well as the rigor of the major when assessing GPAs. Tepper’s GPA average is 3.4 and the middle 80 percent range is 2.9 — 3.8. 

Isiadinso, the admissions consultant, says that a high GPA in a notoriously challenging major, such as physics, and at a selective school would be far more valuable to admissions committees than a high GPA in a perceived easier course and at a less well-known institution. “It’s not just about the GPA, they look at the context too,” she says. 

Karen Marks, founder of the North Star admissions firm, says “anything below a 3.0 will raise alarm bells at most schools”, regardless of the college attended. 

But she adds that one of her clients was admitted to Columbia Business School with a GPA below 2.6. Another was admitted to the Darden School of Business with a full tuition scholarship despite having a GPA below 2.9. 

Have a low GPA? Be honest and provide context

She advises those with low GPAs to be open and honest about the score, rather than make excuses. “The GPA really is just one factor, and the relative importance varies from candidate to candidate, depending on a variety of factors, such as if they have robust work experience,” Marks says. 

Georgetown’s Kilby says that candidates with low GPAs should provide context through their MBA essays. “It helps the admissions committee to have this understanding, rather than allowing for assumptions to be made,” she says. 

Indeed, GPAs are not always a reliable measure of candidate quality, given that MBA candidates usually graduated from college several years ago, meaning their ability may have in fact improved, or decreased. 

“Their maturity and motivation levels were also different at that time,” says Anna Farrus, MBA admissions director at IMD Business School in Switzerland. “GPAs provide some information, but it has to be put in context.” 

She adds that it can be hard to fairly and accurately compare the GPAs of a globally diverse applicant pool, as different countries and schools have different grade measures. IMD does not convert the scores into one single system, and so does not publish a GPA average. 

“If we see a poor result in an applicant’s degree, we will question that, but it won’t necessary mean their chances of being admitted are lower,” Farrus says, adding that the school puts more emphasis on the GMAT score. “It’s the best predictor of academic success.” 

Ultimately, admissions teams will pull information from a variety of sources — including anecdotal knowledge and online research — to make a holistic choice on whether someone should be admitted to their MBA, or not. 

But Isiadinso adds: “If you have a low GPA, you have to go literally above and beyond to convince the admissions committee to accept you.” 

]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: Yale SOM Vs. Dartmouth Tuck]]> Should you choose Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business or Yale School of Management for your MBA? It’s not a bad dilemma to have.  

Neither program is a member of the “M7” group of elite business schools that includes iconic schools such as Harvard, Stanford GSB, Wharton and MIT Sloan. But both have consistently been included in or near the top-10 of prestigious rankings for the past decade. 

Dartmouth's Tuck School of BusinessCurrently, The Economist places Tuck #8 globally and Yale #11. The Financial Times places Yale #16 and #19 for Tuck, while Bloomberg BusinessWeek believes Tuck is #7 in the US and Yale #16. Tuck’s edge in the latter is due primarily to superior rankings in job placement (#4 compared with Yale’s #42). 

“Tuck historically has been the more competitive school and the quality tended to be slightly higher. But Yale has made tremendous gains over the years and is increasingly viewed as a top program,” says a Tuck MBA graduate who was admitted to Yale but rejected the offer. 

“Yale does also benefit from slightly stronger global brand recognition of the parent institution, which likely helps with international admission numbers.” 

There are other key differences between the two schools that MBA applicants need to know about before choosing where to study.  

Yale SOM vs Dartmouth Tuck: Location 

Location is among the major ones. Yale, in the city of New Haven is more urban. Tuck is more rural, in a picturesque setting. “The geography of Tuck lends itself towards an active and outdoorsy crowd that tends to love the seasons and the sports and activities that come with them,” says a former admissions officer at the school, who now works at admissions consulting firm Stacy Blackman Consulting.  

On the other hand, Yale students will have more restaurant choices and cultural opportunities. 

Both Yale and Tuck students have a commute to New York City or Boston for job opportunities. Yale benefits from proximity to NYC, which makes recruiting trips easier, though there is a coach—which is operated by a private company—that runs frequently to both Boston and New York; there are also flights to the cities from the nearby Lebanon airport. Yale’s airport, Hartford, is further from campus. 

“I appreciated the ability to get to New York from Yale in less than two hours without the New York cost of living,” says Gus Roman, a joint MBA and master’s of public health candidate at Yale. 

Yale SOM vs Dartmouth Tuck: Admissions requirements, selectivity and culture 

Yale SOMMany of the admissions requirements are similar, such as GMAT/GRE score, letters of recommendation and essays — with some differences. Yale was among the first schools to introduce “video essays”, in which applicants have a set time limit to answer randomized questions. 

And Tuck this year placed more emphasis on emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and express emotion, in its application process. 

Selectivity at both schools similar, with a roughly 20 percent acceptance rate. 

One significant difference is the size of the student body. Yale’s MBA class has approximately 347 students while Tuck has 287. “Tuck has strong emphasis on a collaborative culture. Students are smart, nice, diverse and very engaged in the community,” says the former Tuck admissions officer. Meanwhile, Yale is known to attract a more intellectual, progressive and social justice-minded student body. 

Roman, the Yale MBA/MPH candidate, says: “The culture championed by the business and society mission of Yale SOM make it a unique place where everyone has the ability to share their own voice and be heard.” 

Both MBA cohorts are diverse, with more than 40 percent women students, though Yale has more international candidates (45 percent compared with 36 percent at Tuck).

Yale has a higher average GMAT score (730 while Tuck’s is 722) and undergraduate GPA (3.71 vs Tuck’s 3.49) — both traditional but not comprehensive measures of candidate quality. 

Dartmouth's rural location sets it on a picturesque hill above the Connecticut RiverAdmissions consultants and former MBA students describe Yale as more of a progressive program, whereas Tuck’s MBA is considered more traditional. 

“From my experience, Yale has a more integrative learning environment where boundaries between disciplines are less rigid,” says the Tuck MBA graduate. “Tuck is a far more traditional program where there are clearly defined lessons in marketing, finance, accounting, strategy, etc.” 

Yale SOM vs Dartmouth Tuck: Alumni network and MBA career outcomes 

Despite its larger population, Yale is a relatively new business school, having been founded in 1994. By comparison, Tuck arrived on the scene in 1900 as America’s first graduate school of business. “This helps explain why Tuck’s alumni base is considered by many as the most loyal and dedicated of all such networks,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions advisory firm. 

According to The Economist’s 2017 alumni effectiveness ranking, Tuck came second globally while Yale was ranked #15.  

The career outcomes are similar in terms of industry placement —some 50 percent of both school’s MBAs work in the traditional fields of finance and consulting. 

The career placement data does not bear out Yale’s reputation for a more eclectic, varied student body. Only a slightly larger number of graduates work in non-traditional career paths than at Tuck, such as the non-profit sector. Tech is slightly stronger at Tuck. 

Yale is located in New Haven, an urban areaUltimately, Roman at Yale says applicants should visit the schools, meet students and engage with faculty before making their choice. 

“Get a full spectrum view of the school; walk through the campus, sit in on classes, find a way to go out with the students and hear what they really have to say,” he says.

“Websites and rankings provide one (important) frame to the story, but choosing to spend two years of your professional life resuming academic pursuits deserves a more personal approach.”

Image credits:

  • Dartmouth - Tuck: Public Domain
  • Yale SOM facade: Nick Allen / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Dartmouth College campus: Public Domain
  • Downtown New Haven: Versageek / CC BY-SA 3.0
]]> Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Is Heated US Immigration Rhetoric Discouraging Overseas Students from MBA Programs?]]> As an American, Sarah Breeden had always dreamed of getting that all-American qualification: an MBA. She considered applying to several top US schools, and even had an application written (but not submitted) to the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. 

But in the end, she chose HEC Paris in Europe, in part for its diversity — the MBA cohort is of 50 different nationalities. 

“I spoke with many friends who did MBAs in the US. They said despite what admissions teams say, most of the students are actually American,” Breeden says. “There are huge benefits to learning about different cultures and traditions, which will set me up for an international job.” 

Breeden’s choice highlights a big dilemma for US business schools: how to counter the falling number of international students applying to MBA courses in the country. 

Data from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the GMAT business school entrance exam, show a 10.5 percent fall in foreign students wanting to study in the US versus last year. Overall in America, applications fell by 6.6 percent in 2018 — the fourth straight year of declines. 

Previously, the very best business schools seemed to weather the storm, as they could rely on their established brands to draw in candidates from across the world. 

Yet even oldest and best-known US institutions, such as Harvard Business School and NYU Stern School of Business, have reported falling MBA applications this year, with the drop largely attributed to international candidates. 

The troubles of US business schools are in stark contrast to those in the rest of the world. While GMAC reported that global demand for MBAs has fallen for the first time, in some regions the business education market is booming. 

In Asia-Pacific, for example, applications to master’s degrees in business surged by 8.8 percent this year. 

In Canada and Europe applications rose by 7.7 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, with the regions boosted by growing interest from international students who want globally mobile careers, and to study in diverse cohorts. 

International applicants concerned about the US political climate, visa issues

Experts blame the woes of US business schools on a range of factors. One is the increasingly unstable political environment and concerns among international students about access to visas. 

Most US business schools are worried about the fall in demand from international applicants. At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, applications fell by 7.5 percent and the decline was almost entirely due to waning overseas demand.   

“International applications to US programs in general have declined largely due to political concerns and uncertainty around immigration policies,” says Pete Johnson, assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions at Haas. 

He adds that the strong US economy and near-full employment are also behind the drop, as they make potential applicants more likely to seek promotions or stay in the workforce. He goes on to say that “we remain confident in the value of an MBA degree in the marketplace”. 

Access to jobs in the US is a key concern among international MBA candidates, many of whom base their choice of school on where they want to work on graduation. Companies appear to be more hesitant to hire international workers because of fears that the visa regime may be tightened under the Donald Trump administration. 

According to a survey commissioned by the Wall Street Journal, in the first half of the year companies posted more than 877,000 jobs requiring US citizenship or work authorization, a 19 percent increase on last year. GMAC data also show that US companies are less likely to hire international graduates of American business schools in 2018 versus 2017. 

“Undoubtedly, news of fewer job opportunities at US companies discourages many of today’s international MBA applicants from pursuing US business schools,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions firm. 

“Even for those who intend to return to their home country or move somewhere other than the US after graduation, landing a paid, summer internship at a US company is more challenging in the current political and regulatory climate.” 

An MBA in Canada or Europe: increasingly attractive for many international applicants

At the same time, more progressive immigration regimes in Canada and European countries such as the Netherlands are thought to be lifting demand for business education in those countries. International applications rose at 63 percent of European business schools this year, GMAC said. 

The reputation of schools in Europe, Canada and Asia is also growing, notes Johnson at Haas, “although we don’t lose many admitted students to programs outside the US”. 

In addition, MBA programs in continental Europe are much cheaper than those in the US, because they are typically half the length, so students forgo less in salary and pay fewer tuition fees. Even in the UK, once thought to suffer from Brexit, the fall in the value of the pound has lifted British schools’ fortunes. 

At HEC Paris, MBA tuition fees for the January 2019 intake are €66,000. In comparison, Wharton School charges $78,948 for the first year of its two-year MBA, bringing the total bill for the program to more than $150,000. Breeden says: “I did look at price, but it was not a decision-making factor that influenced where I was going. This program is cheaper, but I’m going to pay money regardless.” 

Elite US b-schools still hold sway

Yet the relatively high cost of top-tier US MBA programs is offset by the large salary increases achieved by their students on graduation, believes Stacy Blackman, an admissions consultant. 

She says the cost of the MBA program relative to salary potential can be a concern for lower ranked MBA programs that lack a strong global brand and alumni network. “They are more vulnerable.” 

According to a recent survey by Stacy Blackman Consulting, 70 percent of MBA candidates were not concerned about the disruptive US political climate. 

They were far more concerned about getting into a top US MBA program (85 percent said this was a concern) — suggesting the strong brand of the elite US schools still holds away over candidates. 

Despite the recent drop in applications to these schools, their cohorts remain high quality. Min notes that average GMAT scores at the most selective US schools have climbed year-on-year — a traditional barometer of class strength. 

“Some applicants have come to feel it’s not worth their time and effort to prep, test and apply,” he says. “If and when average GMAT scores drop (as they have at Stanford), it will be interesting to see how quickly previously discouraged applicants get back into the game and pursue admission.” 

Back at HEC Paris, Breeden says she picked the French school also for its luxury connections, being so close to the fashion capital Paris. She previously worked in the sector and hopes to continue doing so, in Europe. 

“HEC is a very well-known school for luxury, retail marketing,” she says. “In Paris and France, that brand awareness [among luxury employers] is important.” 

]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Careers in Supply Chain for MBA Grads]]> Demand for skilled supply chain managers appears to be on the up. Efficient and effective management of supply chains has always been vital to global trade. But the rise of online retail, and customers demanding more rapid delivery of their purchases, has led to an increased need of managers who can achieve these objectives at the lowest cost, says Joseph Xu, assistant professor of operations management at the Tepper School of Business in the US.

“In ancient times, scribes managed this information using clay tablets or papyrus,” he says. “Today, supply chain managers manage the information using computers, software and other digital technologies like IoT [the Internet of Things].” 

The online retail giant Amazon, for instance, has an operations track in its leadership development program and, overall, hires about 1,000 MBA graduates every year. Unilever, the consumer goods group, also hires MBAs into supply chain roles as part of its Global MBA Recruitment Channel.

The fundamental need for information hasn’t changed – but with the constant technological advancement of operations, supply chain managers now need digital skills. 

Those with data science, digital marketing, software engineering, online payment processing and cybersecurity skills are very much in demand. Seven out of 10 manufacturing executives reported shortages of workers with adequate technology, computer and technical training skills, according to a 2015 Deloitte report

Over the next decade nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled. The skills gap, in particular the dearth of tech skills, is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled. 

Post-MBA careers in supply chain: many diverse opportunities

Many people think supply chain management is only in the manufacturing industry, at companies such as Intel, Dell or Raytheon. But MBA graduates can find supply chain jobs in virtually every sector, says Toni Rhorer, associate director of graduate business career services at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. 

The jobs are at retail, pharmaceutical, healthcare, distribution and more companies. “The great thing about the field of supply chain management is that there are such diverse career opportunities,” she says. 

Technology is the fastest growing industry of interest among W. P. Carey students, who are looking to companies like Amazon, Google, or Walmart eCommerce, where they can combine their supply chain skills with an interest in data analytics to make an impact.

“Great supply chain managers will have a combination of technical and leadership skills,” Rhorer says, including communication. 

Technology is changing the work of supply chains and their managers — it enables greater visibility into the supply chain, says the Tepper school’s Xu. This gives managers an unprecedented level of activity tracking and control within their supply chain. 

From delivery drones to smart shipping containers and the blockchain, goods that are in transit can now “talk” to supply chain managers, who are able to figure out where they are, what state they are in and their estimated time of arrival at a given location. 

Meanwhile, robots now do much of the heavy lifting in logistics warehouses — and much faster and carrying more weight than a human ever could, enhancing productivity. “It will become increasingly important for supply chain managers to design a framework to assign the right tasks between robots and humans within their supply chain, so that they can complement each other,” says Xu.

As technology reshapes the work of the supply chain manager, so-called “soft skills”, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal effectiveness and empathy, are increasingly important, says Keely Croxton, associate professor of logistics at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“These managers also need to be change agents, curious, disruptive and innovative,” she says. 

Consulting is another industry of interest for MBAs at the W. P. Carey school. Besides the large management consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company, there are many niche supply chain consulting firms that are appealing, such as Denali Sourcing Strategies. 

Aside from consulting roles, there are three other broad categories of starting positions for those with a degree relevant to supply chains: managerial, analytical and strategic, says Croxton at the Fisher College. 

“Opportunities in the first category include supervising a shift at a manufacturing operation or distribution center,” she says. “The second category relies on strong analytical skills and include titles like supply chain planner. 

“Some companies also hire our students to take on even more strategic roles that help them create competitive advantage through their supply chain, or think about the future direction the firm could take.” 

The Fisher College offers a master’s degree in business logistics and engineering — Croxton concedes that some employers may prefer to hire specialized graduates, rather than more general MBAs. 

Supply chain careers for MBAs: demanding, but rewarding

But she adds that companies place a high value on employing people who can interact across functions. “For these managers, an MBA student who has had coursework in all the functional areas, and had the opportunity to think holistically about business strategy and how it informs functional strategies…Is ideal,” she says. 

Such companies appear to be willing to pay well for highly-skilled managers. At W. P. Carey, the average salary this year for supply chain was $104,995, with a range of $90,000-$143,000 — higher than the $100,303 average for all functions.  

But pay is usually dependent on industry, location and experience. For example, in regions of the US where the cost of living is lower, such as in the southwest, salaries are adjusted accordingly. For a lot of tech companies in California, the pay range is typically $100,000-140,000 for a new MBA grad, Rhorer says. 

But MBAs will be expected to work very hard for the compensation. The work of supply chain managers is notoriously demanding, which can have a negative impact on work/life balance. 

“The industry itself is transforming,” says Croxton at the Fisher College. “We’re shopping in new ways, and keeping up with the expectations of shoppers is incredibly difficult. 

“But in general, working in the supply chain field is no more demanding than working in many other areas of business. It is an exciting field and most people working in it would tell you that no two days are alike, and the daily challenges are what keep it interesting.”

Image credits:

  • Header: X2 warehouse by CTsabre14 / CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)
  • Containers: Public Domain
  • Amazon warehouse by Lewis Clarke / CC BY-SA 2.0


]]> Thu, 18 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[How to get Winning Letters of Recommendation]]> A winning MBA application needs strong letters of recommendation. A bad letter can sink an application, but a stunning testimonial can tip the balance in favour of a candidate, according to Allison Jamison, assistant dean of admissions for Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. 

She says: “Extremely strong recommendations can help tip the scale for an applicant to be admitted – perhaps the committee had a question about an applicant’s analytical ability, for example, but the recommender is able to provide specific, detailed stories that highlight strong analytical skills.

“That support provides critical missing information. On the other hand, weak recommendations, or letters that actually do not support the applicant for business school, can give the admissions committee reasons for serious concern.” 

Admissions consultant Alex Min says a candidate with modest quantitative skills, for example, could be in jeopardy if a recommender ignores that aspect of their profile. 

“More subtly, if a recommender describes the applicant as being ‘competent’ rather than ‘exceptional’, this can cause adcoms [admissions committees] to put the application aside, given how competitive it is,” he says. 

Who should you ask to write your MBA recommendation letters?

So what makes a fabulous recommendation letter? First of all, you’ll need to identify the right recommender and prepare them to pen the prose. 

Most top business schools require two recommendation letters, including at least one from a candidate’s immediate supervisor, such as Duke Fuqua, Harvard Business School and Wharton. 

But some have specific requirements — NYU’s Stern School of Business in New York City requires endorsements of emotional intelligence, or a candidate’s ability to understand and express emotion. So it’s important to check whether a recommender fits the bill. 

Sometimes applicants believe that recommenders with impressive titles are more likely to sway the admissions committee, but that is not the case, according to Stacy Blackman, a business school admissions adviser. 

“A person with a fancy title who doesn’t know the applicant won’t be able to offer specific examples and anecdotes to support even the most generous platitudes,” she says. 

The best endorsements are from people who can feature the applicant from professional, personal and interpersonal standpoints — and who have time to write a letter, she says. 

It’s also important to pick people who can speak to desirable qualities like leadership, communication skills, analytical ability and integrity, which are prized by MBA admissions committees, Blackman adds. 

And rather than submitting two highly duplicative recommendations, she believes it can be more powerful to request backers who are able to share some different perspectives on a candidate.   

Not enough quality recommenders?

Some prospects may be concerned about approaching their boss, as signalling that they may leave their job could jeopardize their immediate employment. What should applicants do if they’re worried they don’t have enough quality recommenders?

Duke Fuqua’s Jamison says that if you’re unable to approach a supervisor, or if you’re self-employed, consider asking clients or former managers, or a professional mentor for a recommendation.  

But she says letters from academics and relatives are discouraged, as they “have not had the chance to interact with a student in the same way an employer would”. 

Guiding your referees

How should you approach a potential referee? Many applicants do not take a proactive approach, believing that they have no control over the recommendation letters. But that’s a missed opportunity, as you can influence the quality of the recommendations.

Blackman advises sitting down with each referee to let them know that a stellar letter is integral to your MBA admit chances and highlight the key attributes that the recommender should try to address, such as creative thinking, determination, focus, intelligence and charisma.

She says candidates should come up with at least one concrete example that illustrates each characteristic. “Sharing details of how you contributed to projects, or giving specific examples of how you interact with others, or went above and beyond — these are the things that make for a great recommendation letter.” 

Duke Fuqua’s Jamison says she is evaluating the quality of the recommendation, not necessarily the writing style. “So for those recommenders whose native language is not English, we do not hold that against the applicant.” 

Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange, says that allowing recommenders sufficient time, say a month, to craft their letters demonstrates respect, removes stress and encourages collaboration. “Offering to review and provide prompt feedback on an outline or first draft is welcomed by recommenders,” he adds. 

If time is an issue, consider using the Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR) provided by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT entrance exam. The single form allows a recommender to submit one letter to multiple schools, which saves you and your recommender time and effort. 

Pro tip: Don’t write your own letters of recommendation

Although recommendations can be influenced, business schools can reject an applicant who appeared to have written their own letter, typically because of time constraints. 

NYU Stern’s refreshed application process, which asks candidates for contact details of referees, was introduced, in part, to ensure that prospective students are not writing their own letters. 

Isser Gallogly, the school’s associate dean of MBA admissions and program innovation, says there are new sophisticated detection methods that schools can use to spot fraud in an application. “The bottom line is: the letter must be written entirely by the endorser,” he says. “It simply isn’t worth taking the risk of writing your own.” 

Ultimately, recommendation letters are an important element of business school applications. Unlike CVs and essays, letters provide admissions staff with third-party observations that help determine whether a candidate merits admission, says Min. 

But they are just one element of the decision-making process, says Jamison at Duke Fuqua, where each application element is weighted equally. “Each piece of the admissions application is important, and every element is considered when making an admission decision.”  

]]> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Going Dutch: MBA Programs in the Netherlands]]> Later this month, Unilever is expected to confirm the move of its headquarters from London to Rotterdam. The £123bn consumer goods giant’s shift would be good news for business schools in the Netherlands. After all, the presence of multinational corporations in a city is the second most important factor in students’ decision of where to apply, according to education research firm Carrington Crisp.  

Whether or not shareholders approve the move of the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dutch business education appears to be on the up. The number of GMAT business school entrance tests taken by students in the Netherlands had doubled between 2013-17, to 1,647, indicating increased demand. 

In the QS Application Trends Report, which surveyed 16,560 prospective students globally, the Netherlands was rated as the eighth top study destination, up from 10th in 2014. 

The ease of access to Dutch study and work visas, healthy job prospects amid a relatively strong economy, and the major presence of corporate juggernauts such as Unilever, have contributed to the increased demand for Dutch MBA courses. 

Business schools across Europe are already seeing an uptick in applications, in part, because of the political unrest caused by Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency and the UK’s European Union exit. 

This has been true for the Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), where the number of applications has increased by 40 percent year-over-year, says Brandon Kirby, the school’s director for MBA marketing and admissions. “I am sure that the situations in traditional MBA destinations have caused a lot of people to rethink which country to do their MBA in,” he says. 

Rotterdam, NetherlandsMBAs can offer close contact with the Netherlands’ business community

Global Dutch companies ING, Phillips, Friesland Compina, Akzo Nobel and perhaps soon Unilever are on the doorstep of the Rotterdam school, situated in the major port city of southern Holland. 

But Dutch corporations also play an important role in the student experience at Nyenrode Business Universiteit in Breukelen in the north west of the Netherlands, according to Willem van Donge, head of careers and personal development. 

Founded in 1946, Nyenrode is the only private research university in the country, and its founding fathers include Air France-KLM, Shell and Heineken. “Our motto is: ‘by business for business’, and as such we keep in close contact with the business community,” says van Donge. 

%link_box_sc_{"text": "See all MBA programs in the Netherlands", "link": "/schools/europe/netherlands"}%

The business school’s “Meet the CEO” program is a good example: MBA students prepare and present business cases to senior executives of companies such as DSM and Microsoft, according to van Donge. 

Spreek je Nederlands?

Those who do not speak Dutch should not despair: Language has not held back Nyenrode’s highly international MBA cohort from securing jobs in the country, as around 90 percent of them worked in the Netherlands last year on graduation. The salary increase for all the school’s MBAs after three years is, on average, 53 percent.  

“Almost none of our full-time MBA students speak Dutch,” says van Donge. “Also, in day-to-day life it is easy enough to get by,” as nearly everyone in the Netherlands speaks English as a second language.

But Hermina Kooyman, deputy director of global education at the Maastricht School of Management (MSM), strongly recommends students learn Dutch. “Being able to read and understand a bit of Dutch is important to be able to integrate into the company culture, and it also shows a willingness to adapt to society, which is appreciated by the Dutch,” she says.  

Amsterdam, NetherlandsVisa issues

Internationals come to study in the Netherlands on an 18-month student visa. Many MBA programs last just 12 months. What’s more, graduates can use the “Orientation Year Permit” — which gives highly-skilled migrants 12 months to find a job, or start their own company in the country after completing their studies. 

The ease with which international students can live and work in the Netherlands has made the country a very attractive option, according to Kirby, at RSM, where 97 percent of the MBA class is international. Being in a country where English is so prominently spoken, “and having a great visa policy — it’s really an unbeatable combination for students looking to relocate to Europe,” he says. 

“It’s also about the quality of life once people make the move to the Netherlands. It’s a great place to live and make a living,” he adds. 

Indeed, the OECD club of mostly-rich nations ranked the Netherlands 11th globally for quality of life. The country was above average in income and wealth, jobs and earnings, housing, education and skills, environmental quality and healthcare. Also, the UN World Happiness Report 2018 put the Netherlands as the sixth happiest nation in the world. 

The country’s reputation for a high quality of life goes hand-in-hand with its reputation for sustainability. With a population of only 17 million people and an economy that is less than one-third of the size of France’s, the Netherlands punches above its weight on sustainability. Each year in the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Index, a handful of Dutch firms including Unilever and Philips, tend to be the frontrunners. 

This may be important to MBAs, who are increasingly concerned about their impact on society and the environment, sometimes even more so than their salary, according to a survey by Bain & Company, the consultancy firm. 

Dutch business schools play their part, too, with MSM this year taking part in the European Sustainability Week, organized by the UN to help promote its Sustainable Development Goals. The school’s one-year MBA program has an entire specialization in international business and sustainable development. It believes sustainability is “vital to bridging the gap between emerging and developed markets”, says Kooyman. 

An uncertain future

While business schools in the Netherlands are clearly becoming more attractive, they are a way off the top schools in the world. Just one — RSM — is ranked by either the Financial Times, the Economist and Bloomberg Businessweek

And despite the globalization of Dutch business education, there has been a recent pushback against the influx of international students, which could negatively impact the country’s business schools. 

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands, Vsnu, has proposed curbing the growth in the number of foreign students in the coming years. At the heart of the problem is funding. The universities are largely funded in proportion to the number of students they enrol, but the total government budget for higher education has remained stagnant for years, meaning there is less money left per student. 

The total number of students at the fourteen Dutch universities has risen by 10 percent since 2013, from 250,000 to 275,000, with two thirds of the growth coming from foreign bachelor’s and master’s students. On average, a student at a university costs the school €7,000 each year. 

But Dutch business schools are against the proposals. MSM’s Kooyman says that, “we want to create diverse cohorts, with students coming from all over the world, from many different educational, social and religious backgrounds, where students learn from one another and open their minds to what’s really happening in the world”. 

She adds: “The more international [students], the better!” 

Image credits:

  • Rotterdam: Public Domain
  • Amsterdam: Patrick Clenet / CC BY-SA 3.0
]]> Thu, 04 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Working in Singapore after an MBA There]]> [Updated 2018: See related article MBA School Choice: NUS Vs. Nanyang]

Singapore is one of the world’s foremost cultural and commercial capitals: it serves as a regional headquarters for leading companies across several industries, with diverse and inclusive workplaces and excellent infrastructure, which makes relocating easy. 

There are also a plethora of world-class business schools in Singapore, which draw students from all over the world. Many MBA students come to Singapore with the intention of working there on graduation. 

Even before Pranav Mehrotra began his MBA program at INSEAD last year, he was connected with the myriad employers on the doorstep of the global business school’s Singapore campus. “INSEAD definitely opens several doors both in terms of opportunities and also in terms of the skills we gain through the program,” he says. 

[See all MBA programs in Singapore]

With over 37,000 international companies operating in Singapore, the city-state punches above its weight; its population of fewer than 6 million people is far lower than its peer Asian economies. But it has a high GDP growth rate and has been consistently ranked as the world’s easiest place to do business, due to its low statutory requirements and tax rates, and highly-skilled and diverse talent pool. 

On graduation in July this year, Mehrotra began work as an associate with A.T. Kearney, a consultancy, in Singapore. He stresses the importance of the career services team at INSEAD, which helped with discovering career options, crafting cover letters, CVs and facilitating his job search. 

“The dedicated employer engagement team provides insight, tips and access to networks for specific industries,” Mehrotra says. 

Singapore's Marina Bay Financial CentrePost-MBA work visas in Singapore

The ease of access to visas is another huge attraction to studying, living and working in Singapore, a beautiful country with warm (albeit unpredictable) weather and a vibrant social scene. 

There are many types of visas, but newly-minted MBAs would typically be looking for an “employment pass”, says Nitin Pangarkar, academic director of the MBA program at Singapore’s NUS Business School. 

“The employment pass is the most straightforward and would be applied for by the hiring company,” he says. “The position must have a minimum monthly salary of S$3,600, or S$6,000 if the employee plans to bring dependents.” 

Another option is an “entrepass”, which is for entrepreneurs who intend to start a private, limited company that is registered with the ACRA, Singapore’s accounting and corporate regulator. International MBA graduates can also apply for a “personalized employment pass” (PEP) if they earn a fixed, monthly salary of S$18,000. 

Pangarkar estimates that about 42 percent of NUS’s MBA graduates work in Singapore on graduation. One example is Sean Bellamy McNulty, a Canadian who graduated last year and works as an FX options trader for JPMorgan, the investment bank. Previously he worked for CIBC World Markets in Toronto, another investment bank.   

Bellamy notes the usefulness of the NUS alumni network, of which approximately 2,200 are based in Singapore, who play an important role in a student’s job search – they act as champions for NUS students within their companies. “Every alumnus I reached out to was happy to provide advice,” he says. “In fact, a member of my team who joined just before me is also a NUS graduate.”  

Alumni of the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, at Singapore Management University (SMU), are invited back to campus to attend MBA classes for free, according to Henry Yeo, head of postgraduate career services. 

“This provides our current students with the opportunity to work with and engage with our alumni,” he says. “We find that the alumni’s role as mentors play an important part in the students’ self-discovery process while they are on campus. Increasingly, we are receiving requests from alumni for the CVs of SMU’s current students.” 

Yeo adds that an important element of job searching in Singapore is the internship, which is a compulsory element of SMU’s MBA program. “The intension is to ensure that our MBA students gain an opportunity to experience an industry or area they would like to pursue,” he says. 

Post-MBA careers in Singapore: consulting, finance, and more 

Approximately 70 percent of the SMU’s MBAs work in Singapore when they finish the course, in a wide variety of industries including financial services, consulting, technology, healthcare, luxury goods, logistics and transportation. Firms which hire the MBA graduates include McKinsey & Company, the consultancy, Citibank, tech companies Google and Facebook, as well as Alibaba, Temasek and many more. 

It is a similar story at INSEAD, where 90 percent of the MBAs, who study in multiple locations, were employed within three months of graduation in 2017. About one-quarter worked in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore. Consulting is the most popular for the entire cohort, with 33 percent of students entering the industry, followed by technology, media and telecoms (19 percent), while 10 percent worked in financial services. Average annual salaries were US$104,800. 

There are downsides to working in Singapore, however. Mehrotra, at A.T. Kearney, notes the high cost of living, but says that affordable and decent accommodation can be found. JPMorgan’s Bellamy adds that the long hours associated with the work culture can be excessive. There is also “so much kiasu” in Singapore, he says, citing a selfish attitude.

But Yeo from SMU points out that those who secure full-time employment in Singapore should, on average, be able to earn enough to keep pace with the cost of living. Singapore’s GDP per capita was US$85,000 in 2017 — one of the highest in the world. 

Image credits:

  • Singapore Marina Bay Financial Centre by Zairon / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Merlion Park and the Singapore Skyline / Public Domain
  • Shophouses along Temple Street, Singapore by Jnzl's Photos / CC BY 2.0
]]> Tue, 25 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBAs in Latin America: Connecting with Emerging Markets in Brazil, Mexico, and Beyond]]> Latin America is booming. Brazil’s industrial production is on the rise; Mexico’s economy is the 15th largest in the world; and other countries in the region, such as Panama and Peru, have been outpacing growth expectations. 

And a growing number of business schools in the region are tapping into this dynamism, with MBA programs in Latin America catering to both local students and international students alike.

Indeed, a new class of globally-oriented business school is emerging in the region. A number of these schools, such as Brazil’s FIA Business School and Mexico’s IPADE Business School, have accreditations from international organizations such as AMBA and AACSB.

And just last month, Fundação Getulio Vargas, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earned an AACSB accreditation in August to sit alongside its accreditation from EQUIS.

Other business schools in the region, including Peru’s CENTRUM Católica and Argentina’s IAE Business School, are even “triple-accredited,” meaning they have accreditation from the three main international MBA accreditation organizations: AMBA, AACSB, and EQUIS.

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Toledo do Brasil plantThese emerging business schools attract a mix of candidates, from locals who want a global perspective to international students who want a front-row view of Latin America. At FIA Business School, for example, “Our last International MBA cohort had 25 percent international students,” says Juliana Bauer Lomonaco, a representative from the school, “coming mostly from Europe, but also from Asia and America.”

While the International MBA attracts a mix of aspiring managers and entrepreneurs, Bauer Lomonaco says the school’s Executive MBA options draw senior managers, directors and partners, from a broad range of sectors.

“Our courses are generalist and focused on strategy, so we receive students from different areas and industries – it varies a lot.”

Importantly for many international students, some of FIA’s offerings, including its full-time International MBA program, are taught in English. Indeed, across the region, an increasing number of globally-minded business schools are offering English-language MBAs.

Take INCAE Business School, for example, which has campuses in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The school offers an MBA program that is taught in English, and includes the opportunity to obtain a dual degree with the University of St. Gallen, the University of Michigan or Yale University.

Likewise, other business schools in the region are also leveraging international partnerships to offer world-class MBA programs. For instance, Brazil’s Fundação Getulio Vargas—often referred to as “FGV”—offers an English-language Global MBA program in partnership with the UK’s Alliance Manchester Business School.

Additionally, to attract international applicants, some business schools in the region are offering incentives such as scholarships for their MBA programs. For instance, the Rio de Janeiro-based COPPEAD Graduate School of Business is currently offering its full-time, English-language MBA free-of-charge.

These globally-oriented, English-language programs offer students the best of both worlds: an education in Latin America plus an international perspective. This perspective is also important for local applicants with their eyes on the horizon.

“The students on that program have a more global approach,” explains María Jesús Quirós Gamboa, an INCAE representative. “They’re looking to go from Latin America to the rest of the world. So that’s the main reason why they choose to do the program in English and the approach of the program is also slightly more global.”

English-language MBAs in Latin America are also attractive for international students who want exposure to the local economy and culture, but may not have the language faculty to do an MBA in either Spanish or Portuguese. 

Monterrey skylineAt Monterrey Institute of Technology’s EGADE Business School, which has three campuses across Mexico, local language skills are not required for the full-time MBA, where 50 percent of the students come from outside Mexico.

“The full-time MBA program is taught fully in English,” says MBA program director Dr. Eric Porras Musalem. “The part-time is a mix: 60 percent is taught in Spanish and 40 percent in English.”

While Spanish lessons are not part of the curriculum, it is possible for international students to take up classes during their studies, in order to better prepare them for work in the region.

Porras Musalem points out that for those who are planning to seek work in the region post-study, learning Spanish during their MBA will give them a broad range of choices when it comes to selecting a country to live in afterwards. Studying in Brazil and learning Portuguese, on the other hand, will limit you to roles within Brazil.

Using an MBA in Latin America to engage globally

Many of those who pursue an MBA in Latin America are looking to connect with the local industries, with the goal of either getting a job or just building a network. 

In terms of Latin American, the countries’ economies tend to be driven by primary industry and manufacturing. But as the economies develop, so too do their needs for infrastructure, plus financial and other services.

Gloriana Cumming, INCAE’s director of career services says that across graduates who remain in Latin America and those who go further afield, the most common industries they land jobs in are “banking and finance, services, fast moving consumer goods, agro-industry, NGOs, technology and telecommunications.”

“Banking and finance is the most important sector,” says Cumming, “however, there has been an increase in services in the last three years.”

Indeed, according to a 2017 report by Top MBA, MBA recruitment has been growing across the region, with increased demand from the finance, consulting and professional services, and technology sectors. 

Eric Porras Musalem at EGADE Business School says about half of the school’s MBA graduates stay in Mexico after graduation, with another large chunk remaining in Latin America for work.

He says MBA graduates are in high demand across a broadening range of industries in the region. “Typically our graduates get managerial positions at all kinds of multinational companies.”

Aside from those seeking work post-study, Porras Musalem says some international students arrive to the school’s part-time MBA with jobs already lined up, intending to work alongside their studies. While some are sent by their firms to open offices in the region, others enroll in the program intending to gather local business knowledge that they can then feed back into their new role.

However, an MBA in Latin America can also be used by students from the region to transition to a global career. 

Take Danilo Sierra, for example. Originally from Honduras, Sierra graduated from the Spanish-language MBA program in 2012. Through his networking activities during the program, he used the MBA as a springboard, landing in Berlin to work for a crowdfunding company. More recently, he cofounded a digital marketing agency. 

“Most of the MBA skills that I use day-to-day are finance related,” Sierra says. “I’ve been able to develop a good cash flow that allows us to do good work, even during quiet spells.”

“That, and being a business jack of all trades.”


  • Campestre de Monterrey by Rick González CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Internal topview of Toledo do Brasil´s plant by Marcio De Assis CC BY 2.0
]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: AGSM Vs. Melbourne Business School]]> Australia has become an even more enticing option for MBA students in recent years. The sun-drenched delight has a number of advantages: the easy access to visas, good job opportunities and connections to the ASEAN economies have made business schools Down Under a popular choice for internationally-mobile students

The two very best business schools in Australia are AGSM, at UNSW Business School in Sydney, and Melbourne Business School (MBS). The Financial Times ranked them fairly equally at number 63 and 66 globally this year, while Bloomberg Businessweek rated MBS number 12 in its international (non-US) business schools ranking. 

Despite both benefiting from Australia’s key advantages, the two schools are very different by some measures. 

AGSM Business SchoolAGSM vs Melbourne Business School: MBA program comparison

Both schools teach in English and have strong curriculums. 

AGSM’s MBA is 16 months long and costs AUD$84,000 for 2018. The course at MBS is a more intensive 12-month experience, priced at AUD $85,470. 

Both schools offer a core curriculum covering the basics of business including people management and data analytics. At MBS, students also take six elective courses on topics such as Corporate Strategy, Brand Management, Negotiations, and Mergers and Acquisitions. Then there is a capstone consultancy project with a real organization, such as with social entrepreneurs. 

MBS students can also pair the MBA with the school’s Master of Marketing course, studying for a total of 24 months. 

At AGSM, students take an intensive two-week core course, followed by more essential education in finance and other subjects. Then, they can pick from seven electives in topics including digital business and venture capital finance. There’s also the option to take an exchange program and study at one of 28 partner schools such as NYU Stern, Wharton or London Business School. 

AGSM vs Melbourne Business School: MBA admissions requirements, selectivity and class profiles

Both schools require the standard admissions criteria, including essays and recommendation letters. 

One difference is that MBS does not accept the GRE, an increasingly popular alternative to the GMAT entrance exam. AGSM has a relatively low minimum GMAT score of 550 (MBS does not have a required GMAT score). 

Another difference is that AGSM requires a minimum of six years of professional work experience (unless a candidate has a strong undergraduate degree), giving it a slightly more veteran cohort than MBS, which requires just two years’ experience. 

This difference is reflected in class profiles: AGSM’s MBAs are aged nearly 30 on entry and have 6.7 years’ work experience on average, compared with 5.7 years on average for the MBS cohort. 

MBA admissions advisor Duncan Chapple says: “AGSM is going to be the right choice if they [applicants] are more senior and have a stronger background. Melbourne is the better choice for those earlier in their careers who are looking for a career shift.”

AGSM’s class is also larger at 66 students. This could give MBS a more intimate feel, which can help with forming bonds that translate into useful alumni networks, which can help students secure jobs. 

Last year MBS held alumni networking events in 42 different global cities across Asia, the US, south America and more. AGSM also boasts a strong network with chapters in Australia and Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. 

But Joao Pinto Fonseca, an MBA student at MBS, says the “networking opportunities [are] better than any other school in Australia”. 

“My cohort has people from all continents, with very different backgrounds,” he says. “The faculty is also very diverse; I already had lectures with professors from Japan, Swiss, Mozambique, Vietnam, Australia and the US — and it is only the second month of classes. 

“Every topic or case study we discuss is enriched by the fact that everyone has a relevant, different point of view to add.”

AGSM did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Both of the schools’ cohorts are highly diverse, representing more than 20 nationalities each. Elsewhere, the average GMAT is much higher at MBS (705) compared with 650 at AGSM, which can indicate cohort quality. 

Melbourne Business SchoolAGSM vs Melbourne Business School: Location and MBA career outcomes 

While both schools are in sun-soaked Australia, the cities they reside in offer different things for MBA students. 

MBS is located in Melbourne, which has been ranked as the world’s most liveable city for the past several years. Its 40 beaches and millions of square foot of parkland, attract nearly two million tourists each year, giving it a laid-back and cosmopolitan feel, with arts and culture prominent. There are residents from 140 countries speaking more than 200 languages. 

Sydney too is diverse and easy-going, and the city was ranked as the ninth best for students this year by QS. The cost of living is relatively high, however. Nevertheless, 80 percent of students enjoy studying in Sydney, 82 percent said they were treated fairly at work and 55 percent said they received help finding a place to live when they arrived in the city, according to research by University of Technology Sydney. 

Career prospects in Australia in general are good, says Chapple: “The economy is growing, salaries are high and there is a shortage of talent. Both [AGSM and MBS] are astonishingly good at getting students into employment.” 

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Some 86 percent and 95 percent of students secured jobs, respectively, according to the latest publicly available career data. At MBS, students enter diverse industries including consulting, technology and banking at firms such as McKinsey, Uber and the Commonwealth Bank.

AGSM’s MBAs increased their pre-MBA salary by 49 percent to AUD$125,000 within three months of graduation. The management consulting industry employed the largest number of the graduates (25 percent), followed by IT and telecoms (21 percent), then media and entertainment (10 percent). The majority of students stayed in Australia or New Zealand (59 percent), with 17 percent going to Asia; 14 percent North and South America; 10 percent in Europe. 

The difference is that MBS students are easier to hire as they have lower salary expectations than AGSM, according to Chapple. “This can be more attractive for traditional MBA employers” such as banks and consulting firms. 

“Melbourne students arguably have better momentum in their careers as they are younger and easier to fit into traditional jobs,” he says. 

He concludes that “for many students, both are good schools and I don’t think either are in any way a risk. If they accept you [onto the MBA], you will do very well”. 

Image Credits:

  • AGSM: / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Melbourne Business School (Public Domain)
]]> Mon, 17 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Working in Canada After an MBA]]> With a relaxed visa regime, multicultural landscape and strong jobs market, Canada is an enticing option for many prospective MBA students. 

Since many MBAs choose a business school based at least partly on where they want to work on graduation, work visas are an important consideration. Students in Canada who complete a two-year master’s program can automatically receive a three-year work permit. And many MBAs obtain their permanent residence during or after the program, giving them the opportunity to stay longer term in Canada.

“That appeals to many prospective MBA students,” says Rodrigo Porto, director of recruitment and admissions at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business (UBC) in Vancouver. 

“To be eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you must have a valid study permit, have continuously studied full-time in Canada and must have completed a program of study that lasted at least eight months” — all of which is criteria met by many MBA programs in the country. 

With Brexit and the Donald Trump administration’s negative immigration rhetoric, Canada has become an even more enticing option for international MBA candidates over the past two years. 

Montreal“Not only do many of our students cite this as part of their rationale for choosing to study at the Desautels Faculty of Management, but at the 2018 MBA CSEA Global Conference, many American career service representatives shared their recent struggles in placing and managing the expectations of international students,” says Adam Halpert, associate director of MBA career services at Desautels, of McGill University in Montreal. 

“Canada’s multicultural landscape also makes it a very unique destination for international candidates to get an education and secure employment afterwards without fear of discrimination,” he says.

But he adds that there remain differences between the hiring of domestic Canadian and international MBA candidates. 

“International students may face additional challenges in learning the Canadian economic landscape, adapting to Canadian cultural norms, overcoming language barriers and building a network, often from scratch,” Halpert says. “Typically, international candidates are expected to work very hard to overcome these challenges.” 

A large percentage of Desautels’ international students are searching for a job in their second or even third language (English). In Montreal, part of French-speaking region Quebec, some jobs also require that graduates speak the local language, too. Despite that, 50 percent of Desautels graduates secure post-MBA jobs in Montreal. 

“This occurs in some cases because the roles don’t require French, and in other cases because the students have been so effective at establishing their value that the French requirement is waived and workarounds are implemented,” Halpert says. 

TorontoThe importance of networking

At Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, 92 percent of jobs accepted by the Class of 2017 where in Canada and there were no differences between the rate at which Canadian and international students secured offers. 

Nevertheless, Zania Mauricette, director of Rotman’s Careers Centre, advises that international students build their network as soon as they arrive in Canada, if not before. “Strong connections are important for gathering data on the Canadian job market, sourcing feedback on one’s career strategy and building advocates,” she says.

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It’s also important to learn as much as you can about the Canadian context of the roles and industries you are interested in applying for. “Conducting informational interviews, attending school and industry events are key,” Mauricette says.

“Students need to be aware of what is required for success in their field of interest, how their experiences and skills fit, and where the opportunities can be found.”

Students should also be aware that hiring in the second largest country on earth tends to be regional. Mauricette says that some companies hire only from business schools in their region — for example, many firms on the west coast may opt to find candidates at a school like UBC. So career mobility may be limited in some instances. 

“British Columbia is quite a unique market,” says Porto, at the Sauder School, where 70 percent of MBA students stay in British Columbia. “Vancouver is home to many entrepreneurs and small-to-medium-sized startups. The city is often referred to as ‘Silicon Valley North’ and this certainly rings true for us, as we are seeing the biggest growth right now in technology-related roles.” 

VancouverCanadian SMEs need MBAs, too

Another unique element to the Canadian jobs market is that SMEs — small- and medium-sized enterprises — are huge hirers of business school talent. SMEs comprise 99.8 percent of all businesses in the country, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada, and they employ 69.7 per cent of private sector workers. SMEs in Canada create around 100,000 jobs each year and are responsible for more than three-quarters of all jobs created in the private sector. 

“Where we see the most growth in recruitment is the SME, high-growth companies, particularly in the technology industry,” says John-Derek Clarke, executive director of master’s programs at the Ivey Business School in Ontario. 

“Startups see the value of having someone with an MBA, because you have to be a master of a lot of things in a small firm, which the MBA teaches you to be. 

“Students are attracted to SMEs, too: they get to do very different things. The variety you have and the exposure, are often unique to SMEs.” 

Many MBAs go into Canadian financial services, consulting firms

Beyond the tech industry and SMEs, traditional employers of MBAs — financial services firms and consulting companies — are also big recruiters of MBAs in Canada. 

For instance, of the most recent MBA class at York University’s Schulich School of Business, the two largest groups of graduates went into finance or consulting — 21 and 20 percent of the total group, respectively.

The situation for recent MBA graduates from Queen’s University Smith School of Business, is similar, with 30 percent having gone into financial services and 25 percent into consulting. Recruiters at the school included some of the world’s largest employers of MBAs, including Deloitte, AT Kearney, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, among others.

Overall at the Ivey Business School, one-third of students tend to go into financial services firms, one-third to consulting and one-third to everything else, including technology. 

Employer demand changes from year to year depending on economic trends. But from a skills perspective, there is a growing need for candidates with strong digital literacy, says Halpert at Desautels. 

Many careers and job applications are becoming digitally-immersed, he says, citing the example of video interview technology that many Canadian firms use. “We train students to build their online branding (LinkedIn, social media), as well as search for career opportunities using current digital platforms.”

]]> Thu, 13 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[An MBA on the Green Shores of Ireland]]> When Vishal Balasubramaniam left his tech job in India to craft a life as a tech entrepreneur elsewhere, he looked at MBA programs in the United States and continental Europe.

And then he started looking at programs in Ireland.

“I wanted to get into a tech center, to start my own tech venture,” Balasubramaniam says. “I noticed that a number of big tech companies have a significant presence in Europe, in Ireland, be it Facebook, Microsoft, Google.

He adds: “the start-up culture in Ireland is very vibrant; there are lots of opportunities to do your own company.”

Ireland conjures up images of a rural land, a rolling green countryside dotted with sheep and thatched-roof cottages, crumbling castles and jagged coastline cliffs. But also of a devastating recession marked by emigration and unemployment at the end of last decade.

However, Ireland’s business scene is roaring back to life in Dublin, the capital city, which is rapidly becoming a hub of biotech, medical device firms, engineering, pharmaceutical and tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn. MBA students are correspondingly heading to one of the MBA programs on Ireland’s green shores, to get in on the action.

“Ireland is starting to pick up again,” says Aine McManus, head of faculty at Griffith College’s Graduate Business School. “There’s an energy behind a lot of the companies. MBAs come out of the program, they are 28 or 29, they are young and smart and they find employment quite easily. If they return to France or to their home city or town, they may not find employment that easily.”

A range of MBA offerings in Ireland

For those interested in pursuing an MBA in Ireland, an increasing number of options are out there. These include full-time programs at schools such as Griffith College, University College Dublin’s Smurfit School of Business, the University of Dublin’s Trinity School, as well as EMBAs at the National University of Ireland in Galway and University College Cork.

Many of these schools are drawing more international students. Griffith, for instance, drew students from 22 nationalities back in 2010, but more recently, students from over 40 countries attend the program during any given year. Five years ago, many of those students came from India and China, but now the school sees more students from France, Germany, Turkey, Vietnam, Malaysia and Spain. 

Likewise, some 80 percent of the current Trinity MBA class is made up of international students.

Officials say that international interest in Ireland stems not just from the burgeoning industries there, but also from a less hectic environment than New York or London.

“It’s an easier environment. It’s not overpopulated. It has a very good balance of lifestyle and work,” Lawlor says. “Whether you are interested in cultural or sporting activities, there are good opportunities to get involved in all of them.” Lawlor adds that Ireland boasts a good education system for students who have children who need to attend school.

Students also enjoy easy access to the rest of Europe in their personal time via low-cost airlines, sampling a plethora of different cultures, cuisines, experiences and languages. 

Post-MBA careers in Ireland: Google, Facebook, and more

Today, Ireland is a leader in the tech world. Dublin’s “Silicon Docks” area is home to industry leaders, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Apple and Airbnb — all of whom are drawn by the country’s business-friendly (tax) regulations and technological capabilities. 

Amanda Shantz, director of Trinity College Dublin’s MBA, says: “We build relationships with top organizations in Ireland to provide a branch for our students to connect with them.” On the school’s consultancy projects, for instance, MBA students have worked with Salesforce and Dell. One of the top recruiters of Trinity’s MBAs is Microsoft. 

The growth of tech companies in Ireland has influenced a new generation of entrepreneurs, with Dublin ranked in the top-ten by the European Digital City Index thanks to its fertile startup infrastructure.

“We are at the forefront of fostering an entrepreneurial spirit,” Shantz says. She cites independent research showing that Trinity graduates have founded more companies than graduates from any other European university over the past five years. 

Much startup support is on offer. Earlier this year, Trinity attended the selective Global Solutions Initiative Summer School, where six entrepreneurial students met with international think-tanks, Nobel Prize laureates and representatives from media, politics and civil society. 

Getting a work visa after an MBA in Ireland

One reason for the increased interest among international MBA applicants is that, unlike other English-speaking MBA markets such as the US and UK, Ireland offers a work visa that allows students to stay in the country after they complete their degree. International (non-EU) students who graduate with an MBA in Ireland can generally stay in the country for up to two years to find work.

“The UK would be considerably more restricted nowadays,” says Michael McDonnell, specialist executive MBA program manager at University College Dublin. “There’s quite an administrative and bureaucratic hurdle now, to stay on. And we can offer more or less everything that the UK offers. We are more or less a short hop on a flight from London. Some people might see us as a route into that market as well.”

An MBA in Irleand in a post-Brexit EU

Beyond the country’s natural beauty and its promising post-study work opportunities, there's another reason to study for an MBA in Ireland: With Brexit looming, the plucky Emerald Isle will soon be only one of two English-speaking nations in the EU. This fact alone is attracting businesses to Ireland’s shores. 

“On course to become the fastest-growing economy in Europe for its fourth consecutive year, Ireland is the natural alternative to the UK by EU businesses and jobseekers,” says Shantz at Trinity College Dublin.

Major global banks including Wells Fargo and Bank of American Merrill Lynch are eyeing Dublin as an alternative to London post-Brexit, to maintain the “passporting” rights that let them sell services across the EU. 

For Vishal Balasubramaniam, Dublin’s vibrant and multicultural atmosphere was a major draw. After he graduated from his MBA program at University College Dublin in 2012, he stayed in the city and worked at Microsoft as a manager for several years before he moved to California to continue to work for the company. 

But he adds: “Ireland might not be the best destination for someone who is looking for a career in industry, banking, or manufacturing. There are some opportunities, but it’s not the same as in the US.” 

]]> Tue, 11 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: CEIBS Vs. HKUST]]> If you’re considering studying for an MBA in China, you will have likely pondered CEIBS in Shanghai and HKUST in Hong Kong. After all, they are the top-ranked Asian programs by the Financial Times and placed at number 8 and 14 globally, respectively this year.  

There are numerous advantages to studying in China: in some respects business has moved east and many global managers—even those based in the west—will need a firm grasp of the business culture in China. The Chinese economy is also booming, so job opportunities look good. And many MBA students at Chinese business schools covet the ability to learn Mandarin, which can set them apart from the pack in their job hunt. 

Lower course costs, meanwhile, continue to prove a draw, while there is easy access to work permits for internationals in China.  

But how do you pick the right course? What are the strengths and drawbacks to the MBA courses at CEIBS and HKUST? 

CEIBS vs. HKUST: Location and MBA career outcomes 

First of all, the location will play a major role in deciding between the two top-ranked programs, as it impacts the entire MBA experience, including career destinations. 

There is a perception that Hong Kong is more international than mainland China and the former British colony also boasts a strong financial services sector with major banks such as HSBC based in the city. 

HKUST in Hong KongLinus Lausen, a current MBA student at HKUST, who is from Germany, says he choose the school partly because Hong Kong “brings together the eastern and the western worlds”. He also applied to CEIBS and INSEAD, of France and Singapore. 

“I wanted to build a bridge between different cultures, particularly between the east and the west…While many subjects do take into account the context of Asia and China, the overall perspective of the program is truly global,” he says. 

Stacy Blackman, a business school admissions consultant, says: “Two out of three graduates from CEIBS stay in Shanghai. Some 80 percent of graduates from HKUST stay somewhere in Asia. HKUST has an extensive exchange program with 60 schools worldwide, giving students an opportunity to explore internationally.”

Indeed, according to the Financial Times’ most recent Global MBA Ranking, HKUST is ranked much higher than CEIBS in terms of international mobility, meaning that the Hong Kong school’s graduates are much more likely to work in a different country from where they were before the MBA.

Blackman adds that HKUST has a stronger reputation in financial careers, and is more well known outside of mainland China. “If you want to leave mainland China, HKUST will be a stronger name on your résumé,” Blackman says. 

“However, CEIBS is very prominent within China and some parts of Hong Kong,” she says. “Both schools are strong in finance, with 20 per cent of the CEIBS and almost 40 per cent of the HKUST graduating classes going into banking and finance.” 

According to the most recent CEIBS MBA career report, 92 per cent of students were employed at three months. Finance was indeed the top industry of choice but about 18 per cent of the MBAs went into tech companies and 15 percent to the manufacturing industry. 

HKUST boasts a similarly high employment rate, at 90 per cent last year. Financial roles dominated the employment destinations, with many MBAs going into private wealth management and investment banking. Meanwhile, 13 per cent of the cohort went into the tech sector, and 11 per cent engineering and energy.

CEIBS vs HKUST: MBA admissions requirements, selectivity and class profiles

Both schools have rigorous admissions requirements covering all the usual bases, such as recommendation letters, interviews, and GMAT or GRE score. 

China's CEIBSBlackman says that CEIBS is more selective, admitting about 40 per cent percent of applicants compared to 50 per cent at HKUST. 

Both schools boast high quality cohorts of students with an average of roughly five years of work experience. Both have average GMAT scores in the 600s, with CEIBS averaging about 30 points higher than HKUST. 

HKUST is slightly smaller with 120 students enrolled per year compared to 179 at CEIBS, giving it a slightly more intimate feel, which can help to form bonds with classmates. HKUST is also a more diverse program with 90 percent of students hailing from international locations, though CEIBS is very international, too. 

Lausen says: “I was looking for an MBA program with students from a diverse background – not only when it comes to nationalities but also regarding the professional background of the students and their post-MBA objectives. At HKUST this diversity is given and offers a unique learning opportunity for me.” 

CEIBS vs HKUST: MBA program comparison

Both schools teach in English and are considered to be very strong curriculums, comparable to top US schools, according to Blackman. CEIBS offers an 18-month program. HKUST’s is shorter with a 12- or 16-month option.

According to a current CEIBS MBA student, the school stands out due to its hands-on leadership training. “Classes like Situational Leadership, in which we hike as a team through the Gobi Desert under many constraints, will challenge me beyond anything I experienced leading large local teams while in general management in Asia,” says Emma Devine, an American.

“Another amazing course is the ICSP (Integrated China Strategy Project), which will require my team and I to tackle a problem facing a real company in China today. Our recommendations will be presented directly to the company and have a chance of being implemented. This will provide a direct link to the business community in China.” 

Her advice for choosing between CEIBS and other schools is: know your goals. “I know that I am both inspired and humbled by the Chinese culture, language, and the pace at which business moves here,” she says.

“My goal is to be a part of this dynamic environment and assist either international companies to enter the market, or local Chinese companies to expand internationally.”

Image Credits:

  • "HKUST campus view looking from above, photo taken in 2012" by Hkust pao / CC BY-SA 3.0 
  • "China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)" by Paulo Menegusso / Public Domain
]]> Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: Harvard Vs. Stanford]]> If you’re fortunate enough to secure a place at Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, you could not make a bad choice between them. They are among the oldest and most respected business schools on the planet, both consistently ranked in the top-three of prestigious global rankings, such as the Financial Times

The quality of the courses at Harvard and Stanford, the power of the alumni networks and the brand associated with the two titans of MBA education, are near-unparalleled. 

While both schools will serve you exceedingly well, there are significant differences between them, in terms of student culture, learning style and career outcomes. Even the weather (location) can be a factor in choosing between both programs. 

Harvard vs. Stanford: Location and MBA career outcomes 

One of the biggest differences between the two schools is the location, which has a huge impact on the career destination of Harvard and Stanford graduates.

Stanford is located in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Francisco, putting students in very close proximity to technology companies, entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital. Harvard, on the other hand is located in Boston on the East Coast, which is known more for financial services and management consulting. 

The location of each school tends to influence where students from the schools end up career-wise, though MBA students from these top schools are valued in virtually all industries.

From its Rock Center of Entrepreneurship to the iLab, Harvard has invested a great amount of resources in entrepreneurship and innovation over the past few years. The school has also experienced a strong showing in terms of its graduates starting businesses and becoming major players in the investment world both in Silicon Valley and beyond. 

However, Stanford still dominates in the area of tech and entrepreneurship. It permeates the culture, the discussions and the case examples, more so than at Harvard, says Chioma Isiadinso, founder of the Expartus admissions firm in New York. Previously, she worked in Harvard’s admissions office. 

“By being located on the West Coast, I knew that studying at Stanford would increase my chances of finding [job] opportunities in the Bay Area within the entrepreneurship and tech sectors, which fit my short term goals,” says current Stanford MBA student Thalia Elena Hernandez Duran, who also applied to Harvard. 

According to Stanford, 16 percent of its class of 2017 pursued entrepreneurial ventures. Of Harvard’s 2017 class, 64 of its 900 students — or about 7 percent — went on to found businesses.

While Stanford maintains a strong entrepreneurship and tech edge with its connections and location in Silicon Valley, Harvard alumni are also well represented in the Valley, too. 

Both schools also excel at placements in the consulting and financial services industries. Twenty-three percent of Harvard’s MBA class of 2017 went into the consulting industry, as did 20 percent of that year’s Stanford cohort. 

Around one-third of each school’s MBA class goes into financial services each year.

Also notable is the sheer size of the Harvard alumni network (with its 46,000-plus MBA alumni compared to Stanford’s 18,000-plus), which can help students secure jobs. 

Harvard vs Stanford: MBA admissions requirements, selectivity and class profiles

Both schools are looking for talented, intellectually curious and engaged individuals who contribute to each community. 

They are two of the toughest schools to get into. The acceptance rate for the class of 2019 at Harvard was 11 percent and an estimated 6 percent at Stanford. The selectivity of both schools can be seen in the GMAT scores of their admitted students. Stanford has the highest reported score of the top MBA programs (the average GMAT this year is 737 and the range is 610-790). 

Harvard also boasts superior GMAT scores, with a median score of 730 and a range of 580-790.  The average GPA of admitted students at both schools is extremely high, too, with Stanford’s at 3.74 and Harvard’s at 3.71.

The class sizes at both schools differ drastically, with Harvard this year enrolling 928 students and Stanford enrolling less than half that: 418. Given the class size difference, the students at Stanford tend to know more of their classmates, say admissions consultants and former students. In comparison, students who enjoy being in large environments where they can maintain some anonymity may find Harvard a better fit. 

“Candidates have to consider whether they like the more ‘aggressive’ culture of HBS or the more laid-back culture of Stanford,” says Isiadinso.

She adds that there seems to be a stronger emphasis on being less overt about one’s achievements at Stanford than at Harvard. 

“The West Coast vibe of being laid back does carry through at the GSB. Students form close bonds at both institutions, but Stanford GSB has a slight edge in having a culture that fosters a close-knit community,” the consultant says. 

Hernandez Duran adds: “By having a very integrated class, there is possibility to participate in many social events that range from small group dinners, large social events on campus, club-led parties, sports events like C4C, and student led trips. ‘GSBers’ are always looking for new and fun opportunities to try new things with other classmates.”

Harvard vs. Stanford: MBA program comparison

Harvard’s curriculum requires all students to experience the same courses with no exceptions in the first year. Students find flexibility in their second year where they are able to select elective courses.

The teaching methodology, with its primary focus on the case method, exposes students to 500 cases. The experience builds students’ confidence and communication skills. In the winter, students at Harvard gain real life experience through the Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD), working with a small group of their classmates in the real world, putting into practice what they have learned. 

Stanford is more flexible. Its curriculum is structured on a quarterly system and is highly personalized. It gives students a foundation in General Management Perspective (eight courses) and General Management Foundation (11 courses), and a global experience during their first year. 

Stanford combines case studies with lectures, team projects, and role playing, offering more diversity in its teaching methods than at Harvard, says Isiadinso. 

“Students who don’t feel comfortable being ‘on’ every day in the case context of HBS may find the GSB a better fit,” she adds.

Image Credits:

  • Shoot of the Stanford Knight Management Center, home of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, seen from Serra Street by Steve Castillo / CC BY 3.0
  • Harvard Business School, Allston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA by Daderot / Public Domain
]]> Mon, 20 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: Wharton Vs. Booth]]> Should you choose University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School or University of Chicago Booth School of Business to get your MBA? 

Wharton and Booth are two of the world’s best business schools, on many fronts. Both programs consistently rank in the top seven worldwide, the quality of education and cost of attendance are comparable. Both schools are located in a major city with vast business resources and cultural attractions.  

Historically, the big difference between them has been perception. Admissions consultants say the Wharton brand has more lustre: yield rates, applicant volume, and average starting salary are all relatively higher than they are at Booth. 

“In recent years, the trifecta of HBS, GSB and Wharton (H/S/W) is a very common round one focus for the elite candidates,” says Stacy Blackman of Stacy Blackman Consulting. “A few years ago, the elite candidates were only applying to HBS and GSB. Wharton has found its way into the trifecta.” 

But fit is everything when it comes to choosing a business school and both the culture and career destinations of Wharton and Booth students vary, sometimes widely. 

Wharton vs Booth: MBA admissions requirements, selectivity and class profiles

Both of these highly respected business schools require the same standard application elements: CV, undergraduate transcript, short-answer questions, and a GMAT or GRE score. The more subjective admissions requirements vary, however. 

Booth’s application gives candidates more freedom to be themselves, whereas Wharton takes a more structured approach. For example, Booth offers more freedom of expression in its two required essays, with no maximum wordcount and one question asking about personal interests and passions. 

Wharton invites candidates to take part in group discussions, instead of the more traditional one-on-one interviews at Booth. 

Chicago Booth is located in Chicago's Hyde Park NeighborhoodBooth takes a personal approach to its application process, to ensure its candidates are committed. “Show up [be committed and engage with the school], make yourself known. Showing up means a lot to Booth, and they track the frequency in their system,” says a former Booth admissions officer at Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Wharton is more selective than Booth, despite having a much larger applicant pool (6,692 vs. 4,674 this year) and class size (863 vs. 562). Wharton’s acceptance rate is 19.2 percent, compared with Booth’s 20.8 percent. An offer from Wharton appears to be more compelling to admits, with a yield of 67.2 percent whereas Chicago’s is 60 percent.

Tellingly, almost every applicant who is accepted to both will accept Wharton, according to the data provided by Stacy Blackman Consulting. 

Admits at both schools are impressive and similar. They each have an average 3.6 GPA and an average 730 GMAT. However, the minimum GMAT score is lower at Wharton (530) than at Booth (620).

The upside of the relative admit flexibility by Booth (compared to Wharton) is that the program tends to attract a more collaborative student class.

“If quality is defined as a collaborative culture, Booth likely wins. If quality is defined as prestige of a student’s past work experience, Wharton likely wins,” says Esther Magna, principal at Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Wharton tends to attract a more competitive applicant pool, admissions consultants say, so the MBA experience will reflect this intensity. 

“Wharton is a hyper-social environment. From day one, there is constant activity and a never-ending social calendar that extroverts will love, introverts with strong social skills will navigate successfully, and introverts without social graces would find stifling,” says a former Wharton admissions officer. “The group interview is definitely a primer for the energy prospective students will step into on campus from day one.” 

Wharton vs. Booth: MBA program comparison

Both schools have rigorous curriculums that are known to be quant-heavy, but there is plenty of latitude in learning choices. At Wharton, MBA students take six required courses in subjects such as leadership and statistics. They choose from one of 19 majors, ranging from business analytics to multinational management. 

At Booth, MBA students have even greater flexibility in choosing their curriculum. There is only one required course, on leadership. The rest of the program consists of foundation courses and electives. 

Some 82 percent of students and alumni surveyed by GMAT Club, the largest portion, said Booth’s curriculum and professors were its core strengths. In comparison, Wharton’s top strength was its brand, as cited by 93 percent of students who were surveyed.  

Wharton vs. Booth: MBA career outcomes

Both schools offer excellent career outcomes — an identical 97.1 percent of the MBA cohorts report job offers shortly after graduation, according to each school’s most recent MBA career report. Wharton grads receive somewhat higher starting annual salaries ($130,000) than their counterparts from Booth ($125,000). 

The Wharton School is right in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania, in PhiladelphiaThere is a perception that the pair are “finance schools”. That impression is supported by the US News 2019 rankings by specialty, as well as the schools’ placements: MBAs from both Wharton and Booth have landed jobs in firms like Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase, among other financial services firms. 

But both schools have diversified away from the sector in recent years.

They are big hubs for the Big Three management consulting firms, for example, and many students also go to technology companies like Amazon and Google.

Both schools are aiming to capture an identity that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. For Wharton, this is reflected in the offer of a full semester in San Francisco, a startup hotspot. 

“Wharton’s dean, Geoffrey Garrett is really big on the idea of innovation and thinks that Wharton will have to adapt to the disappearance of many current industries and ideas. That idea aligns with sending more and more students through the management consulting funnel, where they can gain broad expertise in several fields without having their skill-sets become irrelevant,” says a former Wharton admissions team member. 

Booth has the New Venture Challenge, a year-long program that carries MBA students through every step of creating a successful startup. Success stories like Grubhub and Braintree have come out of that program.

For applicants considering these schools, another significant point of difference is the size and distribution of alumni from each school. 

“Wharton offers its graduates a network consisting of 98,000 graduates based in 153 countries, whereas Chicago Booth has 52,000 alumni in 120 countries,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions firm. “Alumni interest and support can be a significant benefit for current students and recent grads when seeking to advance their careers.”

The bottom line: in comparing these two revered business schools, most MBA applicants simply cannot make a bad choice, Min says.  

Image credits:

  • Chicago Booth: Karla Kaulfuss / CC BY 2.0
  • Wharton School: WestCoastivieS  / Public Domain 
]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Should you get an Online or On-Campus MBA?]]> An Online MBA program is now a more viable alternative to an on-campus course. Improvements in learning technology, greater access to career services and alumni networks have made the digital degree more appealing. In some ways, the online format could be better than the campus course, as students enjoy more flexibility in when, where and how they learn. 

But there are pros and cons to each type of program, which suit different kinds of applicants. How do you choose which format is right for you? 

Online MBA vs. On-Campus MBA: Flexibility

One big advantage for Online MBAs is that students can earn a highly revered degree from virtually anywhere in the world. “The program is identical to our campus program, so students can experience the same rigor and faculty as a campus student without having to live in Pittsburgh,” for example, says Cindy McCauley, executive director of the Online Hybrid MBA at the Tepper School of Business in the US. 

Classes include a weekly cohort meeting via video conferencing software that can be accessed globally. Participants also come together online twice per week in the evening for 75 minutes. And offline components (video lectures and assignments) can be completed whenever they fit into a student’s busy schedule.

“We have had students relocate abroad during the program and they could continue taking classes just as they had before — making it a great option for students who need a great deal of flexibility,” McCauley says. 

Many Online MBA programs also now offer the same level of career support as their campus counterparts. At Tepper, this includes on-campus recruiting and job postings from top employers, support from the same experienced team of career coaches, as well as access to workshops and other preparation needed for a successful career search.

Technology closing the gap between Online MBAs and their in-class counterparts

What’s more, the technology that enables participants to learn from peers and professors has become much more interactive — one of the biggest initial concerns about Online MBA programs. IE Business School in Madrid, for example, uses artificial intelligence, simulations in real time, big data analysis, interactive robots, emotion recognition systems, and the presence of experts using holograms to teach MBA students from a distance. 

[Related Article: Inside Online MBA Programs]

Yet Phillip Kim, faculty director of the Blended Learning MBA at the US’s Babson College, says that given current technologies, it is difficult to expect that an online class experience will match a face-to-face one. “The online delivery method is a unique form of student experience,” he says. “It is more suitable for students who desire flexibility, whereas the in-person experience is best suited for students who prefer this kind of learning style. 

“The quality of the interaction depends on the quality and versatility of the instructional technology.” 

Online MBA vs. On-Campus MBA: Social aspects, networking opportunities

Could Online MBAs lack some of the social aspects of campus courses, and the networking opportunities that are vital to the MBA experience?

The Blended Learning MBA includes online and face-to-face elements, Kim says, so “students develop meaningful relationships with their cohort in ways that are different than the full-time student experience”. 

He adds: “Despite spending most of their time online and at a distance, our students form tight-knit relationships because they move together in a lock-step cohort through the program. 

“They complete their work in learning groups and learn to build relationships, even if they originally come from different backgrounds. They look forward to seeing each when they come to campus and continue these relationships after they graduate.”

Many business schools are moving in this direction, offering opportunities for online students to come to campus to bond with their classmates. 

At the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, also in the US, Online MBA students typically enrol in two three-credit courses per term. Each week usually includes 10-12 hours of investment in each course, with students participating in a 60-90 minute synchronous live class session led by a faculty member. But they are also required to complete two weeklong in-residence sessions in Bloomington, Indiana, giving students networking and social opportunities, as well as comfort with peers and faculty members. 

[See all AACAB-accredited Online MBA programs]

Plus, students can participate in optional consulting immersion courses that take place throughout the US, or week-long experiential learning courses around the world — including in India, Thailand, Greece and Cuba.

“Online courses offer students substantial interaction opportunities, from participating in case discussions during live sessions, to completing integrative group assignments for classes, and connecting with highly-available faculty members through Zoom or Skype,” says Adam Herman, a director of admissions and student services at Kelley. 

Ultimately, the online format is better for those who need more flexibility in their studies — providing the added benefit of not sacrificing a salary to get a campus MBA. But increasingly, the distinction between online and offline learning is being blurred.

]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Data Science in MBA Programs: Rosy Job Prospects]]> Data science has gone from the preserve of geeky engineers to one of the most preeminent and sought-after proficiencies in a business manager’s toolbox. One recent study from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the GMAT, said that demand for business school graduates in data analytics roles had outstripped demand for them to work in consulting and investment banking functions — their traditional forte. 

Clever data analysis promises to fundamentally change the way companies make decisions. The ever-growing amount of data means there is a rising need for managers who can pull good information out of the mess, and turn insight into action. 

Examples include marketeers or salespeople combing through customer data to create more targeted ads and pitches, but beyond that, data science is transforming the work of businesses in all industries, from finance and banking to retail and transportation. 

Data science MBAs on the rise

As a result of the widespread embrace of data science, business analytics courses are cropping up on MBA programs at a rapid rate, and schools are launching standalone master’s programs too. Of 209 business schools surveyed recently by Kaplan Test Prep, an education services company, 72 percent said they offered courses in the subject. 

INSEAD Business School of France and Singapore last year overhauled its MBA syllabus to include focuses on data science and fintech, for example. 

And already this year, a number of US-based business schools — including the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, the University of San Diego and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business — have launched MBA concentrations in Business Analytics or specialized degrees in the field.

MBA students will need a thorough education in the art of data science, given the growing prevalence and importance of it in the corporate world. This includes the economics of analytics, its strategic ramifications and the more technical content, such as how to use algorithms, says Cornell Johnson assistant professor Shawn Mankad. 

He teaches two courses for MBAs that are data-science focused: one on databases and SQL systems; the other on machine learning — a form of artificial intelligence in which computer systems are trained to “learn” by spotting patterns in massive data sets. 

“There is a strong need in business for leaders who understand all dimensions of analytics in an enterprise environment,” Mankad says. 

Learning to work with data scientists

In addition to lectures and classroom discussions, Cornell MBA students analyze several datasets on their own throughout a semester to gain hands-on experience of the full analytics process: from querying, cleaning, exploring and visualizing data, to exploring several machine learning algorithms and selecting the best one to predict a business outcome. 

“These exercises reveal insights about how to work with statisticians and data scientists,” says Mankad, which is now essential for effective management.  

At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, finance and strategy lecturer Gregory La Blanc says he does not expect most MBAs to become true data scientists. “But we do expect them to know enough to be able to build and manage teams of data scientists, to design business strategies around data, and design organizations that make all of their decisions using data and experimentation,” he says. 

He adds: “The ideal MBA serves as the interface between the technical and the non-technical members of the team.”

%link_box_sc_{"text": "All MBA programs in Business Analytics", "link": "/specializations/business-analytics-and-big-data"}%

Haas students can take a Business Analytics MBA concentration and choose from five advanced analytics courses — including one focused on using big data to make better decisions, and another on descriptive and predictive data mining. 

Demand appears to be high on the student side, with the MBAs “realizing the importance of working with data”, La Blanc says: “Their demand has helped faculty to make the case for more analytics education.” 

Career prospects for MBAs with data science skills

Data suggest career prospects are rosy for those with data analytics skills. The consultancy firm McKinsey & Company forecasted that by this year, the US alone would face a shortfall of 1.5 million managers with the know-how to use data analysis to make effective decisions. 

Additional research by the jobs website found that job posts for data science roles surged by 65 per cent over the past three years or so. Salaries are high, too, with typical jobs paying about $119,000, according to the recruitment firm Robert Half Technology. 

Industries that are data-rich, such as technology, definitely seem to value any skill that enhances the ability to work fluently with data, says Cornell’s Mankad. 

“Anecdotally, I know several of my students have gone on to internships and/or full-time PM [product management] positions that are data-science-oriented,” he says, adding: “Even if they are not going to use data science in their current or next position, most would predict that they will have to grapple with this content at some point in their careers.” 

La Blanc goes as far as to say that some companies won’t even talk to MBAs who don’t know the basics of data science: 

“These skills are undoubtedly an advantage on the job market.” 

]]> Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Career Opportunities for Luxury Management MBAs]]> The rise in demand for luxury goods, from wines and spirits to watches and jewelry, has boosted demand for MBA talent and spurred business schools to create management programs focused on luxury markets.   

Specialist MBA and master’s degrees focused on fashion and luxury are proliferating. Last year, NYU Stern School of Business launched a Fashion & Luxury MBA, while other highly-ranked schools offering similar courses include HEC Paris and EMLYON of France and London Business School in the UK. 

Kim Corfman, academic director of Stern’s program, says the timing was right. “The global market for luxury is large and growing again, so the business opportunities are significant,” she says. 

“Companies in the luxury sector increasingly appreciate the competitive advantage of adding business-educated talent to their ranks. This means there is more of a market for MBA graduates.” 

In the first semester, students master the business basics — analytics, finance, accounting, strategy and more. Later, NYU’s specialist MBA students take sector-specific courses, such as retail operations, supply chain management, or consumer behavior. 

Students then take electives and apply what they have learned via consulting projects with luxury companies. These projects are often arranged by members of Stern’s Fashion & Luxury Council, which includes past and present executives at Yoox Net a Porter, Tommy Hilfiger and Tiffany. 

The importance of work experience in the luxury business

More schools offer consulting projects and internships that can be crucial for getting hired by luxury brands. For example, in SDA Bocconi’s Luxury Business Management MBA concentration, which is offered in partnership with Gucci, LVMH, and Valentino, students complete an immersion project with a luxury brand. 

While increasing numbers of these brands understand the value of MBAs, the biggest and ongoing challenge — at least for the new NYU Stern degree — is to convince more companies of the benefits of hiring MBA students in a sector that has traditionally preferred industry experience to degrees.

“Consulting projects are extremely important for students’ careers as they allow them to experience different company cultures, but more importantly they allow them to have luxury work experience on their CV,” adds Sonja Prokopec, marketing professor and coordinator for the luxury MBA track at ESSEC Business School in France. “Many students are switching from another sector, and the consulting projects constitute the first work experience in the luxury industry.” 

Nearly half of ESSEC’s luxury management MBAs changed sector and 55 percent obtained a salary increase. Most frequently, the MBAs take positions such as brand or retail manager, at big and small firms, including LVMH, Richemont, Kering, Chanel and Ermenegildo Zegna. 

But the luxury industry, including fashion, does not visit business school campuses to recruit large numbers of students like traditional MBA employers, such as banks and consultancy firms. “Management has become an important part of the global luxury industry, but it is not something that is mainstream among MBAs,” says Prokopec. 

The proportion of an MBA cohort who are hired by luxury brands is typically low. At Stern, only three percent of the Class of 2017 were hired by luxury retail companies, for example. 

An MBA can be an advantage in the luxury field

M. Alison Melville, however, views the fact that MBAs are not in vogue in luxury as an advantage. She has spent her entire career in the retail industry and noticed that few peers had MBAs. “I identified this as a way I could differentiate myself within the industry, while honing my business acumen to boot,” she says.  

Melville graduated in 2013 from the general (not luxury) MBA program at Stern in New York City, a fashion hub that is home to top brands including Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. The two-year degree, priced today at $113,166 each year, has paid dividends, as Melville has secured a string of management positions since graduation. 

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She currently works as general manager for footwear and accessories at online retailer Everlane in San Francisco’s Bay Area. 

She says: “My MBA prepared me for the next chapter of my career in two major ways. First, by providing me the opportunity to meaningfully expand my professional network. Being at Stern, in the heart of NYC’s fashion industry, enabled me to meet and develop relationships that would not have been possible otherwise.  

“Second, my MBA education was an exercise in trying on a lot of different ‘hats’, shifting quickly from working on marketing to finance to operations. The ability to draw adeptly from all of these lenses in rapid-fire sequence deeply enriches your work in the retail industry, which can be quite fast-paced and favors flexible thinkers.” 

Arguably the biggest challenge for luxury MBA programs is the continual evolution of the sector. “The content must be reviewed almost constantly, with changes being made every few months,” says Alessandro Brun, director of a luxury boot camp for MBAs introduced at MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy a few years ago.  

One example is the growing awareness of sustainability in the luxury industry, with companies now investing large sums of money to ensure their brands and suppliers are compliant. 

Another topic that will gain an increasing focus on luxury MBAs is technology. “Technology is allowing the luxury sector to tackle some of its biggest problems, such as long lead times between development and bringing a product to market,” says Brun.

“We present our students with case studies, testimonials and examples of technologies to ensure that they are always up to date with advances in this area,” he adds. 

Brun goes on to say that luxury management will continue to rise at business schools, despite their challenges, as luxury strategies are applied to companies launching non-luxury goods, such as Apple or Nespresso. 

“The luxury sector is home to passion for beauty, detail, superior service, creativity, even genius, and these courses really instill into participants the ability to make a business excellent.” 

See all MBA programs in Luxury Brand Management



  • Rolex / hypo.physe (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Louis Vuitton storefront / David Adam Kess (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • Gucci, Roma / Achim Hepp (CC BY-SA 2.0)


]]> Tue, 31 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Post-MBA Career Opportunities in Australia]]> Australia’s mixture of relaxed visa laws, strong job prospects and links to the fast-growing ASEAN economies is making it a hit with international MBA students. The sun-soaked country is perceived to be the fourth most welcoming for foreign business students behind the US, Canada and UK, according to a study by researchers CarringtonCrisp. 

The study’s author Andrew Crisp noted that many factors influence students’ decisions of where to study — “including cost, ease of access to study visas, the sense of adventure, and an attractive lifestyle”. The latter is, of course, one of Australia’s fortes. Melbourne, for instance, has consistently been rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities. 

The University of Sydney Business School recently launched a full-time MBA program that is open to internationals, just as foreign students begin to warm to the country known for its relaxed visa regime. “There are no barriers to studying here on a full-time basis as far as we are aware,” says the school’s MBA director, professor Guy Ford.

Most internationals are eligible for a student visa in Australia, provided they have sufficient funds to cover their tuition, travel and living costs, and are proficient in the English language. On graduation, they can apply for a 485 visa, which enables them to stay in Australia for 18 months to gain work experience. 

However, for international MBA applicants note that in order to be eligible for the 485 visa — also known as the “Temporary Graduate Visa — they must have studied in Australia for at least 16 months. So that means for international applicants hoping to secure one of these visas, doing a quick, one-year MBA will not be enough.

Alternatively‚ if they find an employer to sponsor them, MBA grads also can apply for a 442 visa, which enables them to work for up to two years, and which provides a pathway to apply for permanent residency.  

Australia: ‘a strong job market’ for international MBAs

“Australia has a strong job market for skilled professionals and we are well hooked into that through our industry connections, supported by our internship programs and placement capability,” says Ford. “The latest figures we have on international students wanting placements in their country of study sits at around 50 percent.

“Sydney itself is the site of the local operations of many multinational firms and we find that students who have worked in these firms in their home countries prior to their studies often spend time post-graduation in these local entities.” 

The latest data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the business school entrance test the GMAT, show that demand for MBA talent is strongest in Asia Pacific, where 90 percent of employers plan to make MBA hires in 2018, more than the 81 percent of employers globally who will hire MBAs this year. 

MBA internships also are most prevalent in Asia Pacific, where 65 percent of employers plan to offer them in 2018. In addition, 36 percent offer signing bonuses — an average of $3,500. 

Many students flock to Australian business schools as a springboard to careers in the dynamic and fast-growing Asian economies, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Australia’s close time zone to these fast-growing nations is also attractive. of time zones as well as land is attractive. 

Romana Garma, director of learning and teaching at Victoria University in Melbourne, says: “Most students come to Australia to study. Some students gain employment and others stay because they become attached to the Australian lifestyle. There are other students who are appreciative of their education, return home and want to share what they have learnt and contribute to their own society. As our MBA is also offered in Malaysia, we also have a large cohort of alumni who are working in Southeast Asia.” 

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Australia, a resource-rich nation, is perhaps best known for its mining and metals industries, but Garma says: “There is strong growth in professional services. Health and education are also important. With more and more startups, graduates of MBAs are creating their own futures and using their new-found expertise and networks to do that.” 

John Shields, deputy dean and head of school at the University of Sydney Business School, says the sectors employing the most of his students are hospitality, real estate, engineering, IT, infrastructure development, logistics, agribusiness and financial services. Approximately 30 percent of the international master’s graduates at the school remain in Australia to work. 

“Sydney and Melbourne are sophisticated, post-industrial cities,” he adds. “Australia’s Eastern capitals have strong service sector economies, with solid underlying demand for university-educated knowledge-workers and globally-experienced managers.”

Indeed, since the country is so large and diverse, opportunities can be found in many different parts of the economy. According to data from the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking, for example, a strong contingent of MBAs from AGSM’s UNSW Business School is currently working in management consultancies, with others in the IT / telecoms industry as well as in media / marketing roles. Likewise, a good chunk of MBA graduates from Melbourne Business School go into consultancy roles. 

The diversity of placements aside, Shields says that unlike the US, the Australian master’s (including MBA) market is not oversupplied. “Here, the MBA is seen as a premium qualification, not a ‘volume’ early career credential. Opportunities for both MBAs and specialist post-experience master’s graduates are solid. Australian-based employers are becoming more attuned to the value of hiring them, too.”

So there are plenty of reasons to pursue a post-MBA career in Australia. 

]]> Wed, 25 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Landing a Job in the UK as an International MBA Candidate]]> Visa curbs have made it more of a pain for international students to get hired in the UK after graduation, but with proactive planning MBAs can set themselves above the pack. 

The UK was second only to the US as the most popular study destination among 1,211 business school students from 74 countries surveyed this year by education research group Carrington Crisp. More than half saw the UK as a potential study destination, up from 44 percent last year — often because of the chance to work there. 

But visa restrictions on foreign students who want to work in the UK on graduation have damaged the country’s reputation. The government revoked the post-study work visa in 2012, ending the practice of non-EU students spending two years in the UK to find work at the end of their studies. 

Also, uncertainties about how Brexit will affect the post-MBA visa and job situation remain, making students and hiring companies a bit more cautious. 

All that has made it harder to hire foreign graduates, with employers having to spend thousands of pounds on visas, the supply of which is capped. A recent survey by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance (MBACSEA), an association of more than 200 mostly US business schools, found that two-thirds of them said they saw fewer employment opportunities for their foreign graduates. 

But UK business schools say that plenty of British blue chip firms remain open to hiring foreign MBA students; they just need to work a little harder to secure jobs. 

Take for instance Alison Lane, who works at HSBC in London as an analyst and earned an MBA at Imperial College Business School in 2017.

The American considered applying to other MBA programs in Europe but decided that London would put her in a better position to network and secure job interviews. “I feel very at home in the UK because I love the culture and the buzz of the city,” she says. “I find London to be very sophisticated, international and open. The UK is economically strong and easy to navigate as an English-speaking country, and the travel opportunities are incredible.” 

There were challenges to getting hired, however, and she had to do extra leg work to secure employer visa sponsorship. “I interviewed with five investment banks and it took me 10 months to secure sponsored employment, from the time of my first interview to my start date at HSBC,” says Lane. 

“Some of the opportunities in the market were contract roles and therefore didn’t offer visa sponsorship, so I had to dig deep into my network and work with head-hunters to find the right role.”

The careers coaching on offer at Imperial was invaluable in her job hunt. “The careers team arranged events that led directly to a long interview process at a global investment bank,” she says. A guest speaker at Imperial connected Lane with a recruiter at a firm she later interviewed at. “I never would have gotten this opportunity without the careers team,” she says. 

Using an MBA to go from L’Oréal to McKinsey

Sakina Mehenni left her job as a marketing manager at L'Oréal in Montreal to begin an MBA at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in 2017. She wanted to add more international experience to her CV and gain access to world-renowned universities in the UK. Now she has secured a position at the consultancy firm McKinsey & Company in London as an associate, which she will begin in September.

“The UK is very diverse and therefore globally relevant,” she says. “I also felt that all nationalities were ‘at home’ here, reducing the cultural shell-shock of studying internationally, but ultimately providing a global perspective from one location.” 

Visas are less of an issue for her because, as a Canadian and thus part of the UK’s Commonwealth, she can secure an under 30s work visa for two years. In addition, Oxford is among a group of UK universities taking part in a pilot government scheme enabling students to extend their visa by six months to get a job. 

“Most companies see that while your schooling is in the UK, your experience is in your home country — and therefore international companies often see you as an excellent asset for their office in your home country,” Mehenni says. 

Her advice for making a career switch of any kind is to network. “Make sure to get to know the recruiters and people working in the office you want to transition to,” she says, adding that it’s important to know why you want to live and work in a different country. 

Lane advises prospective business school students to “never give up”. “If you want to move to the UK for business school, make sure you hit the ground running in your career search,” she adds. “I started networking and exploring the job market as soon as I arrived, and it was worth it, given how long the process took.” 

]]> Thu, 19 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: NYU Vs. Columbia]]> New York City is a commercial dynamo, one of the major centers of the global economy and historically a leader in media, finance and fashion. Such advantages are not lost on NYU Stern and Columbia Business School, the two top MBA providers in the Big Apple. 

“NYC’s urban business setting is definitely an advantage for many career paths, including finance,” says Stacy Blackman, an admissions consultant in Los Angeles. “At Columbia and NYU, accessibility to recruiters and world-class industry experts and professors is unparalleled.” 

The Financial Times Global MBA ranking 2018 put Columbia at number seven in the world, with NYU in 23rd place. Bloomberg’s Businessweek list placed Columbia in ninth place in the US, and NYU at number 18. Applicants almost always prioritize reputation in selecting between Columbia and NYU, according to admissions consultants, and brand is often signalled by relative ranking across the major media publications.

Aside from rankings, MBA applicants should turn to other criteria to make their choice, such as: student culture, admissions processes offers and career outcomes. 

NYU vs. Columbia: MBA program comparison

Both NYU and Columbia run high-quality MBA courses. 

Columbia offers greater flexibility of study, with full-time students joining in either August (a 20-month program) or January (a breezier 16 month curriculum). NYU Stern students start in the fall and study for two years. “The option to start in January instead of August can be a major attraction to students who are coming from family businesses or are sponsored by their firms and don’t have a need to complete a summer internship,” says Chioma Isiadinso, an admissions consultant in New York City. 

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Another differentiating factor is class size. Columbia’s MBA is considerably larger at 753 total students, compared with NYU’s 399-strong cohort. Both schools divide students up into clusters. “Given Columbia’s large entering class size, it offers a broader network compared to smaller programs like NYU,” says Isiadinso. Columbia boasts a global network of 39,000 full-time MBA alumni alone. 

Columbia Business SchoolBoth schools rely on case studies to teach their MBA courses, along with guest speakers — a benefit of their New York City base. Columbia commonly hosts C-Suite speakers comparable to Harvard Business School, admissions consultants say, including the CEO of Anheuser Busch International and representatives from McKinsey & Company. 

A student’s choice between NYU and Columbia also can be driven by their fit with particular programs. NYU’s new one-year Tech MBA and Fashion & Luxury MBA programs are drawing interest from specialized candidates. Media, tech and retail are seen to be stronger at NYU than Columbia, say admissions consultants. 

[Related Article: An MBA in New York City: If You Can Make It There, You Can Make it Anywhere]

NYU’s full-time MBA offers a whopping 20 specializations—such as Banking, FinTech, and Product Management—from which students can select up to three. On the other hand, while Columbia’s MBA doesn’t have any official specializations, it does offer a range of electives.

NYU vs. Columbia: admissions process comparison

For the schools’ full-time MBA programs, the 2018 admission rate to NYU is 21 percent, while Columbia’s is 16 percent, so getting into either of these two schools is very competitive. 

Columbia is on a rolling admissions basis, except for its Early Decision option where applicants have to apply by a certain date to be considered for admission to the MBA. NYU has four deadlines (on the 15th of October, November, January and March). 

Both schools rely on essays, resumes and reference letters in evaluating prospective students. In addition to the essay requirement at NYU, the school asks applicants to pick six images that best describe who they are. Applicants at NYU also have the option to choose a personal reference in addition to a professional reference and the school describes this as “EQ recommendations”.

Interviews at both schools are on an invitation-only basis. The interviews are held both on campus or in the country where the applicant resides. The main difference is that Columbia relies on alumni to interview their applicants and the interviews are blind — the interviewer only has the applicant’s resume and not the application. NYU is different in that interviewers are admissions staff and they have read the entire application. 

According to Blackman, NYU typically shows more flexibility in admitting candidates. The school is more willing than Columbia to accept a candidate whose employer is not well-known or whose GMAT score is not high, the consultant says. One potential upside of this relative flexibility by NYU is that the program tends to “attract a down-to-earth, humble student class”. 

“Any sign of competitiveness or arrogance was a turn off,” says a former NYU admissions officer who works at Stacy Blackman Consulting. “We also were sensitive to those ‘leaders’ that were pushy or always needing to lead.”

NYU Stern MBA student Vikram Gulati says: “I really identify with the student population, and I am proud to say that we are probably the most collaborative among the top MBA programs”

Gulati adds that, “from what I hear from my friends in other schools, Stern is way above and beyond everyone else in terms of sheer niceness of students — everyone is super helpful and willing to put in tons of time, often with absolutely no reciprocity or even the expectation of anything”. 

Columbia did not put forward a spokesperson for this article. 

NYU vs. Columbia: MBA career outcomes comparison 

Both NYU and Columbia have been trying to move away from being perceived as “finance schools”, consultants claim. 

NYU can be an attractive choice for students with varied interests that go beyond finance. According to NYU’s 2016 employment report, the school’s top three recruiters were Deloitte Consulting (22), Citi (14) and Amazon (13). The school also had plenty of opportunities in luxury and consumer goods, “so students with a broader career interest base would find a great home at Stern”, says Isiadinso. 

NYU - SternColumbia has slightly higher placement into consulting and finance than NYU, but candidates also enter the media and technology industries in large numbers, and manufacturing, to a lesser extent. In fact, according to the school’s Employment Report, the three top employers of 2017 graduates were consulting firms (McKinsey — 55, the Boston Consulting Group — 36, and Bain & Company — 27). 

The bottom line: both NYU and Columbia are top schools whose students enjoy unparalleled advantage, being based in the Big Apple. 


  • Columbia Business School by Michael Filtz
  • NYU-Stern by Memorial Student Center Texas A&M University / CC BY 2.0
]]> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[5 Questions for Gabriela Rodrigues, MBA Student from ESMT Berlin]]> Can you tell me a little about your background?

I’m from São Paolo, Brazil, and worked five years in a management consultancy company; it was my first and only professional experience. I worked in very different segments there, from health to security to education. My bachelor degree was in public policy management, which was quite different. And then I decided to come to Berlin to pursue my MBA basically because I felt my learning curve was going down in consultancy; at some point, I know I’d seen a lot, and wanted to get to the next point of my career. And one way to do it was an MBA. It was always one of my biggest personal dreams, to study abroad, so I decided to go for it. ESMT Berlin was a good choice for me, especially for in terms of money for value. 

How did you get around to the idea of paying your MBA tuition with bitcoin? 

When I got accepted, I had to pay the first installment to confirm my enrollment. And so I started to look for my options: first I went to my bank in Brazil and asked them to provide me with a total for how much it would cost me to make the transfer. That would’ve been really too expensive because of the taxes, interest rates, and the fees. The real and euro were also so different, so I had to be really clever about how would I proceed with this. My second choice was using Transferwise, but I couldn’t manage that because there’s a limit to how much you can transfer per month, and I wouldn’t be able to make it in two payments. 

Then I remembered a friend of mine who really knew about bitcoin. I was checking the website of ESMT, and saw there that they accepted bitcoin, and I thought, ‘oh that might be something.’ The friend helped me out with making the calculation, to see if it’d be expensive, how much it would cost, and it turned out cheaper with bitcoin. I saved about seven percent to eight percent—the fee was really low, it was just the fee to buy bitcoin. So I bought the bitcoins, and sent ESMT the payment the same day—it was super fast. I’d never used bitcoin before, and the experience was really interesting for me. Actually there was a little remaining value there—I bought a little more than I had to—and now it’s increased since I bought. So I got to make some profit as well. 

How did you consider risk when paying with bitcoin?

When I bought it, the value was increasing a lot. I was a little afraid of losing timing, but the whole process was so fast that it prevented me from really incurring any risk in value fluctuation. It was a little scary in that sense, but I figured if I could do it all in the same day, it wouldn’t be a crazy change in value. Honestly I did it because I had a friend who really knew bitcoin well; if I was by myself I probably would’ve given up and paid the bank in the end.

I think a few other classmates paid with bitcoin as well, but it’s not that common. Some other students they were like, ‘oh that’s super interesting,’ while I think others saw it but thought it would be too hard to open account and navigate the system. I think that’s the main deterrent—that it’s too complicated, and maybe too risky.

How did you finance your MBA?

I’m using a Prodigy loan to pay most of the tuition. But I also had a scholarship from ESMT that covers almost 30 percent of tuition—and for my personal expenses and first installment, around 4,000 euros, I used my own savings. I was saving specifically for this adventure.

I went with Prodigy because they had a good rate; my bank wasn’t be able to get me a favorable one. Another thing concerning me was exchange rates—I was worried that it would increase, and that would kill me. So I decided to take the Prodigy loan in euros, thinking I’d be here after graduation. If I took a loan in Brazil, I’d have to pay there, and it would be a lot messier. 

What would your financial planning advice be for MBA students? 

Don’t take all of your costs in a loan, because you have to pay it after all. I don’t think I’m going to find a magical job right after graduation—maybe that’s the misperception, that you graduate, you automatically have a job that pays you a lot of money, so you don’t have to worry about it. That’s something you have to be financially prepared for. Have a plan B, because it’s not as magical as it sounds. In my case I also have some savings in Brazil that I didn’t use, for emergencies. That’s important as well. Try to make a good mix of your savings and loans, and be prepared with a plan B. You might not find your dream job right away. 

In regards to bitcoin, I think the landscape has changed; I wouldn’t recommend today, because it’s going through a bad patch right now, the value is decreasing, so maybe the risk today is higher. I’d say if you don’t have bitcoins today, don’t do it. Or just try to learn more about it. Don’t go ahead like I did, because I did—I think people should read more about it before buying it. That would be my advice with bitcoins. 

Photo: CC0/Money Decentralized Digital Anonymous Bitcoin

]]> Tue, 19 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: INSEAD vs. LBS]]> When it comes to choosing the very best business school in Europe, the choice may boil down to London Business School or INSEAD. Although there are plenty of prestigious MBA programs on the continent, the pairs are among the most revered. The Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2018 placed INSEAD second in the world behind Stanford, with LBS in fourth. 

In the 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek International MBA Ranking, INSEAD leads the pack, with LBS just behind.

While LBS and INSEAD share similarities – not least superb teaching faculty, excellent career outcomes and facilities – there are key differences between them that prospective students must consider in order to make an informed choice. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA program comparison

Both MBA programs are known for their quality and rigor. 

LBS offers greater flexibility, with exit points at 15, 18 and 21 months. This enables students to complete summer internships, which some employers say are vital to being hired full-time, particularly investment banks. Students also have the option to complete an international exchange, take part in a consultancy project or join the entrepreneurship summer school. 

London Business SchoolSerhat Pakyuz is an LBS alumnus from the MBA 2017 class who works at Amazon. He says: “The 21-month timeline offered so much that I didn’t think twice about staying for the long haul. 

“I sampled three career options throughout my MBA – taking on internships at a strategy consulting firm and a fintech startup, before taking on a full-time role [at Amazon].

“I also visited over 20 countries with my classmates throughout the course of the MBA.” 

All LBS students are required to take core modules covering the basics of business – such as finance, marketing and strategy – and then specialize by taking up to 12 electives from a choice of 70. They include social enterprise, negotiation and data mining. 

LBS features a combination of case discussions, lectures and group work, whereas INSEAD is renowned for its case studies –considered as second to only Harvard Business School.

At INSEAD, students also take core courses and can specialize from a choice of 75 different electives in subjects such as technology and operations management, political science and organizational behavior. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA program cost

The advantage for INSEAD students is the shorter program length – a breezy but intense 10 months. INSEAD also gives MBAs the option to do a two-month internship if they choose a January start. 

“You’re paying tuition for a shorter time at INSEAD, so the cost is less,” says Caroline Diarte Edwards, director of Fortuna Admissions and former INSEAD director of MBA admissions and financial aid. 

“You’re also incurring living costs and foregoing your salary for less time,” she says. 

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As of 2018, LBS quotes a fee of £78,500 (equivalent to €89,856) for tuition and materials, while INSEAD charges €84,000. 

Prospective MBAs should consider currency fluctuations, too. According to Emma Bond, former senior manager of MBA admissions at LBS, one of the reasons LBS saw an increase in applications was because the pound dropped after the Brexit referendum, and therefore the relative cost to going to LBS dropped for people coming from the EU or earning US dollars. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA admissions requirements and class profiles

Both schools are exceedingly difficult to get into, with a rigorous and competitive selection process. 

The big difference is in class size. INSEAD has a significantly larger class – 1039 MBA students to LBS’s 431. “If an applicant’s priority is building the largest possible network, then INSEAD could be the choice,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions consultancy firm. “Or if the student prefers a more intimate group of peers, then LBS might be the way to go.”

Both cohorts have an average age of 29, suggesting that they are mid-career professionals who have amassed significant experience that contributes to peer learning. Average work experience for both classes is about five years. 

Average GMAT scores are high – 709 at INSEAD and 708 at LBS, suggesting a high-quality group of students. 

The two cohorts are also very diverse, with 94 nationalities represented at INSEAD and 63 at LBS. The programs are male-dominated, with 33 percent women at INSEAD; 39 percent at LBS. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: Location and internationality 

INSEAD’s larger and more internationally-diverse student body may be attractive for students who want international mobility. The school was founded in 1957 in Fontainebleau, a beautiful and small town outside of Paris that fosters a close-knit community. However, INSEAD’s global footprint is large. 

It has a Singapore campus in one of the hubs for business in Southeast Asia—where it offers a full-time MBA as well—so it’s ideal for learning more about working and doing business in Asia and building a network. There’s an Abu Dhabi campus as well. 

Laura Subias is an INSEAD MBA candidate from the class of 2018. She says she chose the school for “the opportunity to learn in a completely diverse background, which I was sure would enrich even more the academic experience”. 

INSEAD has approximately 55,000 alumni in 170 countries whereas LBS has about 40,000 alumni in 150 countries. INSEAD has 48 alumni chapters in 50 countries while LBS has 114 clubs in 55 countries. 

LBS is based in the heart of London, one of the world’s top and most bustling cities. The school is known for its close connections to the City and its financial services firms. 

Pakyuz says: “The London location was key. Being 15 minutes from the largest organizations in the world was especially appealing during recruiting. Coffee chats, office visits, and presentations from senior executives were all made easier as a result of the amazing location.” 

LBS also has a Dubai campus, where it runs an Executive MBA program.

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA career outcomes 

Both schools offer excellent employment outcomes for MBA graduates. According to  2017 employment data, 93 percent of LBS students receive full-time job offers within three months of graduating, compared to 90 percent at INSEAD.

For mean annual salaries, the two schools are nearly identical: $104,800 at INSEAD and $105,600 at LBS.

The same four companies were the top employers at both schools: McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group and Amazon. 

The most popular industries for MBA grads hire extensively at both schools. For the class of 2017, consulting firms claimed 41 percent of LBS students and 33 percent of INSEAD students. Technology firms recruit 20 percent of LBS students and 19 percent of INSEAD students. 

The biggest discrepancy was with financial companies, which hired 26 percent of LBS students and 10 percent of INSEAD students. “Finance-oriented applicants might find LBS to be a better choice in terms of future employment in that industry,” says Min at the MBA Exchange. 

Another relatively significant difference is in the geographic spread of new grads. At LBS, 50 percent remain in the UK; 16 percent go elsewhere in Europe; 10 percent go to Asia; 9 percent to US/Canada; 7 percent to Latin America; and 4 percent to Africa/Middle East. 

By comparison, INSEAD grads have a broader footprint: 38 percent remain in Western Europe; 26 percent choose Asia/Pacific; 12 percent opt for Northern, Central, Eastern or Southern Europe; 10 percent choose Africa/Middle East; 9 percent North America; and 7 percent Latin America. 

“This wider distribution relates in part to INSEAD having campuses in three different regions of the world and requirement that its MBA admits speak a second language,” Min says. 

The bottom line is that both schools offer outstanding employment outcomes, despite key differences in program structure, cost and study body. 

]]> Mon, 18 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Programs in Spain: Study in a Sun-Soaked Entrepreneur’s Paradise]]> Spain was hit hard by the global financial crisis of 2008, but the country’s business schools are on a roll, with applications holding steady, job prospects buoyant and an entrepreneurial scene that is thriving. IESE Business School in sun-drenched Barcelona says there has been an increase in quality applications over the past several years — the school added two new sections to its MBA cohort, in 2012 and 2016. 

The big change for Spanish schools has been the type of MBA candidate flocking to the country since the economic downturn. “It is undeniable that the proportion of students entering financial services has dropped from pre-crisis levels,” says IESE MBA admissions director Pascal Michels.

“In [recent] years, a little more than a quarter of our graduates have entered consulting post-graduation, followed by roughly 20 percent going into finance and another 20 percent into technology,” he says. “The importance of the MBA as a springboard for a career change remains strong too, with more than 80 percent of our graduates changing either sector, function or geography each year.” 

MadridA strong jobs market 

Despite Spain’s high unemployment rate of 16 percent as of February 2018, IESE has a 92 percent employment rate for its full-time MBA candidates. Each year roughly a quarter of graduates pursue employment in Spain on graduation. 

Michels says: “The MBA niche within the job-market is very small and obeys its own rules and market forces. The relatively high percentage of graduates who choose to pursue options in Spain, is an illustration of how MBAs can continue to thrive in high unemployment environments.” 

He adds however, that high levels of unemployment put pressure on wages and that overall MBA pay tends to be higher in full-employment economies like Germany. The median base salary for IESE’s MBAs who worked in Spain was $65,000 in 2017, the latest year for which data are available, lower than the $79,000 salary for graduates globally overall.  

A prosperous entrepreneurial scene

But one upside has been the growth of Spain’s entrepreneurial scene, arguably the most influential and prosperous employment alternative in the nation. After the economic crisis, the Spanish government has been dedicated to helping the entrepreneurial ecosystem flourish more rapidly. Laws such as the Entrepreneurs Act were passed, which opened up a wide range of visas for highly-qualified foreign entrepreneurs, investors and other professionals. 

“For the last few years, Spain’s startup ecosystem has been growing fast and many business incubators and accelerators have emerged,” says Tino Elgner, senior associate director of admissions at IE Business School in Madrid. 

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Founded by entrepreneurs in 1973, at IE 1500 students are trained in entrepreneurial management every year. MBAs are given the chance to flesh out their startup ideas through mandatory core courses such as “Entrepreneurial Mindset” and “Entrepreneurial Venturing”. 

BarcelonaBut most of the magic happens in Area 31: IE’s hub for entrepreneurial activity. It offers students resources, materials and training that can help them become successful business founders. In fact, 25 percent of alumni go on to create their own company over the course of their professional career. 

But, according to Elgner, the greater shift is the motivation of entrepreneurs; they want to have a positive impact on society or the environment. “This notion might have a lot do with why more and more young professionals are fascinated by the idea of starting up their own business or bringing change to existing companies through the entrepreneurial mindset,” Elgner says. 

Learning the local lingo

In addition to Spain’s startup credentials, prospective business school students find the opportunity to learn the local lingo alluring. Knowing Spanish is essential for getting a job in the country and, with 400 million native speakers, it is the second most-used language globally behind Chinese, according to the British Council. So it will serve an MBA candidate well in many different nations, particularly emerging markets such as Latin America.  

Back in Barcelona, those studying for the full-time MBA at ESADE Business School learn entirely in English, but those without a basic command of the language are required to take a Spanish course. “It gives them the opportunity to learn basic Spanish, providing them with the tools to communicate in everyday life situations,” says Luis Vives, associate dean of the ESADE Full-Time MBA. 

“For those students who would like to improve or brush up on their language skills, we offer the opportunity to take advanced and voluntary Spanish courses.

“Last but not least, those students with an advanced or native level of Spanish, or those who would like to learn more languages, have the opportunity to take French or German language courses.” 

Despite a flourishing jobs market and entrepreneurial ecosystem, one question for Spain is whether a disruptive political climate will impact business education in the country. Business schools previously feared that the Catalan independence vote could have led to a fall in applications, with some prospective MBA students concerned about tensions on the streets in Barcelona. It is too early to tell what the impact will be, if any, but many candidates may decide Spain’s merits far outweigh its drawbacks. 

]]> Mon, 11 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Experiential Learning: Better than the MBA Case Study?]]> Alleviating the woes of ill children, sufferers of brain cancer and dodgy hips is not traditionally the preserve of MBA students. But for IMD Business School’s cohort in Lausanne, this is a staple of their program. 

They participated in the pan-school Debiopharm-Inartis challenge in April, to improve the lives of healthcare patients in Switzerland. The winners each year receive more than $25,000 to turn their novel idea into a startup. But for the IMD students, it was part of the curriculum. “You can’t learn innovation in a classroom,” says IMD professor Cyril Bouquet. 

During an “innovation week”, the MBAs took part in a dizzying mix of lectures and visits to healthcare facilities, to create a product concept, business plan and prototype it. Sandeep Sharma, an MBA candidate at IMD, who is Indian, developed with his team a prototype to address the mental agony children face being vaccinated. 

He says: “Stress caused by injections (needles) is common among toddlers and young teens. We used technology to gamify the experience by developing an augmented reality app to make the visit to the doctor more engaging and less stressful.” 

The experience helped him comprehend the potential of applying “design thinking” — an approach to solving problems that focuses on patients’ needs — to business. “I realized how many ideas we can generate by simply collaborating with each other,” says Sharma. “And, how these ideas can be developed into powerful solutions that can make a big impact on lives.” 

IMD MBA student Veronika Raszler, whose team developed a hip protection solution for the elderly, adds that the exercise strengthened her entrepreneurial muscles. “Being surrounded by brilliant startups, gathering feedback about our idea from industry experts, and seeing how tangibly it shaped the final outcome taught me life-long lessons on how diverse approaches can elevate an idea,” she says. 

The benefits of ‘learning-by-doing’ versus case studies

Business education has traditionally been imparted through case studies, in which students solve a challenge a company has faced, but theoretically in a classroom. The concept was pioneered by Harvard Business School about a century ago. Now, MBA students are increasingly working with organizations to help solve real problems, as they occur. 

At MIT’s Sloan School of Management in the US, for example, students take part in “Action Learning”, where the classroom is extended to the real world. Through 15 “Action Learning Labs”, students undertake a semester-long project in a business setting wherein theories are applied to hands-on practice. 

Working in teams, they assess a business problem, sometimes visiting the organization overseas, and come up with a structured approach to solving it. In one Lab, MIT Sloan MBAs worked with students from five top business schools in China, while students have also gone to India and Israel in other Labs, and have worked with companies including LinkedIn, eBay and Amazon. 

“The real world is not sanitized and structured into a neat case format,” says Urmi Samadar, director of the Action Learning Program at MIT Sloan.

“The purpose of management education is to prepare students for leadership roles that span team, disciplines, industries and regions; Action Learning is a very effective medium to do that,” she says. 

Like traditional MBA internships, the projects are a good way for students to test career options and make valuable professional connections — sometimes leading to full-time job offers from companies students have consulted. “Many students express that they had chosen to take a particular Action Learning Lab because of a career pivot they were considering or to have their first experience in an international business setting,” says Samadar. 

She adds: “Sometimes students are newly awakened to a career path in a different industry or setting that they hadn’t previously considered.” 

The difference between experiential learning and internships is that learning-by-doing sees students, usually, consult, rather than work for, companies. 

A taste of the real world

As the experiences are often cross-disciplinary, learning-by-doing is effective because it replicates better the workplace, with managers increasingly working across teams and geographies, according to Sadia Cuthbert, head of business development and projects at the UK’s Cambridge Judge Business School. 

The school runs a range of such learning experiences, including the part-time, six-week long Cambridge Venture Project (CVP), with students working as a team of consultants in a local business. The four-week Global Consulting Project (GCP) sees the MBAs solve strategy problems facing organizations, which they also consult. 

For these projects, the teams “are deliberately cross-disciplinary, with students from differing backgrounds all collaborating on projects which are often in a sector they haven’t worked in before,” says Cuthbert. 

“Many GCPs require students to work with offices around the world, and students gain experience working across geographies, just as they would when in full-time, permanent roles.” 

Business schools do not see experiential learning replacing case studies. Rather, they see it becoming an increasingly important addition to a business education. MBAs, then, should expect to pioneer more innovative healthcare solutions and solve the strategic problems faced by global corporations as part of their course. 

]]> Wed, 06 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Programs in the Entertainment Field: Lights! Camera! Netflix?]]> In a February 2016 editorial for Financial Times, Jonathan Moules noted that the rapidly changing face of the post-recession business world had blurred the differences between the technology and entertainment industries to the point that distinctions seemed more or less irrelevant. The primary beneficiary of this change, Moules contended, would be the graduates of MBA programs who would be increasingly relied upon to help these companies manage their explosive growth.

Indeed, in recent years, MBAs have been snapped up, both by emerging entertainment companies focusing on streaming services such as Hulu, as well as traditional media firms like CBS, Warner Bros., and NBCUniversal. These MBAs need to grapple with an industry in the midst of a sea change, with rapid developments taking place in nearly all aspects of the sector.

Digital firms like Netflix are increasingly hiring MBAsThe changes are taking place almost daily, says Sam Craig, Director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at New York University's Stern School of Business.

“Even if it’s the same title, something we offered in 2000 is totally and completely different [now],” Craig says. “In terms of the program itself, we started off focusing on the entertainment industry, and in the late 90s, the entertainment industry was pretty much siloed. Movie studios were movie studios, and TV networks were TV networks. But that has changed considerably, so there’s this huge move toward convergence, and what television is today is really quite different from what it was in the year 2000.”

“It’s not broadcast. It’s not cable. It’s streaming, it’s Netflix, it’s broadcast, it’s cable: it’s all of these things rolled into one.”

A variety of options

For those looking for a MBA program with an entertainment specialization, there are a number of options. Beyond the Stern program, there’s also UCLA Anderson’s MBA specialization in Entertainment and Media, with courses in Entertainment Law, Negotiation Analysis, and Advertising and Marketing Communications, among others.

Taking an even tighter focus, Berklee College of Music and South New Hampshire University offer a joint MBA in the Music Business, a program that focuses exclusively on finance and marketing within a constantly evolving music industry. Similarly, Henley Business School features an MBA for Music and Creative Industries program, with courses focusing on innovation, design, and intellectual property.

For Barry van Zyl, a graduate of the Henley program and musician who has spent 18 years as the drummer for legendary South African singer-songwriter Johnny Clegg, the experience has transformed the way he thinks about the music industry.

“I have experienced a ‘rewiring’ in terms of expertise, capabilities and most importantly self-knowledge or personal development,” van Zyl explains. “On starting the program I was focused only on a toolkit to exploit opportunities in the music sector. The critical transition I have experienced is that I am no longer tied to the music business through the comfort of networks but am excited to explore creative entrepreneurship in any industry.”

A foot in the door

For Evelyn Zhang, a West Point graduate who spent five years as a technology officer in the United States Army, the transition to the world of entertainment media wasn’t clear. “I went into Stern, and I was like, ‘I want to be in media,’ and after Stern I thought, ‘Okay, now I know how media is organized and how films and TV studios – how those business relationships look,’” Zhang explains.

Zhang says that the MBA gave her a foundation for understanding the media industry, which allowed her to jump right into the field.

After internships at ABC and Showtime, Zhang started a two-year rotational program at Viacom following the MBA. Having already spent six months in product management, followed by six months in data analytics, Zhang is currently working in content distribution. With opportunities to network with and learn from industry veterans, Zhang says she is positioned to put into practice the skills and knowledge she acquired at Stern.

It’s who you know

Many of the MBA programs in entertainment put a focus on making contacts within the industry.

That’s particularly true of the MBA Program in Arts, Media and Entertainment Management at the Schulich School of Business at Toronto’s York University.

“[Graduates] usually get jobs in the entertainment industry directly, and they move [within the industry], says Joyce Zemans, the program’s director. “Some of it is upward and some of it is lateral, but most of our students end up working in the entertainment industry.”

Zemans says that, in several of the MBA courses, students are teamed up with senior executives in the industry. Through these relationships, students can explore how their classroom learning plays out in the real world.

That direct contact remains an essential component of Stern’s program, as well. The challenge for MBA programs, Craig says, is maintaining a balance between focusing on the time-honored fundamentals while staying flexible enough to address trends as they emerge. The Stern program accomplishes this partly through their use of adjunct professors who are also industry tastemakers, such as Buzzfeed president Greg Coleman.

The entertainment industry is changing, and the future is going to come through a new generation of MBAs who both understand the pace of change and can anticipate the direction.

“If you look at a lot of the legacy businesses, they are run by senior executives who grew up in a different environment, and they are aware that it’s changing, but they don’t always get it,” Craig explains.

“So that’s one of the reasons they hire bright, young MBAs who are more digital savvy, and they expect them to be able to drive the business forward.”

Image of Netflix's headquarters: Coolcaesar / CC BY-SA 3.0 

]]> Thu, 31 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Business School Accreditation: A Differentiating Factor for MBA Applicants?]]> If you plan to spend big on an MBA at a top school, an accreditation can be a good way to judge the quality of the course. But with so many accreditation bodies, how can you tell which school is best for you? 

The three best-known business school accreditors are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); the Association of MBAs (AMBA); and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). 

Of these organizations, EQUIS and AACSB apply to business schools as a whole, while AMBA is a programmatic accreditation—it accredits individual programs.

Although these accreditors began in different areas—AACSB was launched from the US, AMBA from the UK, and EQUIS from Europe—they all work with schools all over the world. For instance, there are EQUIS-accredited business schools in over 40 countries, including Australia, China, and Costa Rica, among others. Likewise, AMBA works with schools in over 70 countries and more than 800 business schools in over 50 countries hold AACSB accreditation. 

MBA accreditation: how does it work?

For a business school, it is a considerably long and costly process to secure accreditation from each of the three main organizations. 

Many of the world’s most revered business schools, including Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, have only one accreditation (AACSB). So why would a school seek all three, and should prospective MBAs factor that into their decision of where to apply? 

Professor John Board, dean of the UK’s Henley Business School, says that securing the so-called “triple crown” of AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS accreditations is worthwhile. “The three bodies assess and approve slightly different things,” he says. 

“For example, AACSB has a great focus on participants and the learning process, AMBA focuses more on the MBA as a program, while EQUIS has a broader interest on the business school as a whole,” he says. “This means that having triple accreditation is quite different from having the same accreditation from three bodies.” 

Some schools are seeing a decline in applications to their full-time MBA programs, particularly in the US, so securing accreditation is also a way for schools to differentiate themselves and secure the best candidates. 

Board says that students base their choice on a wide variety of factors — one is the quality of the school and “accreditation is a key indicator of quality”. 

Beyond that, working towards accreditation can help business schools actually refine their MBA offerings.

“Accreditation,” says Board, “provides us with an opportunity to re-evaluate and continue to enhance our offering; we are a better business school because of this,” he says.

It will come as little surprise, then, that plenty of top business schools are striving to achieve maximum accreditation. Eighteen business schools have achieved AACSB accreditation for their programs so far this year, according to Stephanie Bryant, chief accreditation officer at the organization.

[Related: MBA Accreditation: Why is it Important?]

This is not an easy nor short process, with schools achieving AACSB accreditation in four to five years, on average. AACSB assesses, among other things, a school’s mission, operations, faculty qualifications, contributions and programs.

It is not cheap to achieve accreditation, either. A five-year process might cost a typical business school $46,250 USD in dues and fees, according to Bryant. In addition, a school might spend $28,000 on a review and mentoring process to ensure quality standards are maintained, she says. 

Despite the costs involved, Bryant maintains that AACSB has a positive relationship with its rival accreditation bodies. “We view other accrediting bodies as also contributing to the betterment of business education,” she says. 

The value of business school accreditation

IESE Business School in Spain has achieved all three accreditations. The value of seeking additional accreditations is that it can help a business school gain a foothold in overseas markets, says IESE’s MBA admissions director, Pascal Michels. 

“One of the three main accrediting bodies, EQUIS, is European, so it is normal that most triple accredited schools would also be European,” he says. “Depending on their target market, it is also natural that top European programs would seek accreditation from US-based accrediting bodies to gain additional credibility outside of their home market.”

He adds that “AMBA is more focused on MBA processes, while EQUIS and AACSB are focused on different strategy aspects”. 

Michels says that a quality stamp is reassuring for applicants, particularly those outside of a candidate’s home country. “With the number of MBA programs around the world now in the thousands, accreditations are a useful mechanism to provide assurance of a program’s quality,” he says. “In the absence of a global regulating body for MBA programs, accreditations, along with rankings, help people to identify the highest quality programs globally.”

Competition for students may have driven the trend of business schools seeking multiple accreditations, but Michels adds that students should not use an accreditation as the only factor when choosing a program or school. 

There are currently roughly a thousand schools with either one of the three main accreditations (AACSB, EQUIS, AMBA) and more than 80 schools with the triple accreditation. MBA candidates generally apply to between two to five MBA programs – so a huge amount of research is needed to narrow down choices, even after going for multiple accredited schools.

“Depending on a candidate’s profile and need, there will be a mix of brand, geography, career outcomes and financial considerations that will come into play when deciding on a school,” says Michels. 

“Ultimately, the final choice of which school is best will very much be driven by cultural fit.” 

]]> Wed, 23 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Application: What is a Good GMAT Score?]]> For those who wish to attend one of the very best business schools, a high GMAT score can be the difference between admission or rejection. The problem for prospective students, however, is that business schools have different score requirements — and they don’t always reveal them. How do you judge which GMAT score you need to secure a place? 

The Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, for example, requires that candidates submit a GMAT score as part of their MBA application. However, there isn’t an automatic accept or reject solely based on a score and the school says it takes a holistic view of each candidacy. 

For MBA applicants, the GMAT requires significant effort and sometimes expense. Some of the world’s top business schools have admitted candidates without super-high GMAT scores, those who are exceptional in every other aspect of their candidacy. So why do schools place such importance on the GMAT? 

“The GMAT is one of the few ways we can evaluate the entire pool of candidates with the same measuring stick, as we deal with people from all around the world,” says Brandon Kirby, director of MBA admissions at the Rotterdam school. He adds that if a candidate has a strong profile, a high GMAT score can make a decision even easier for the school’s admissions committee, but the opposite is also true. 

GMAT scores are skyrocketing 

Candidates know that the GMAT often plays an outsized role in the MBA admissions process, so scores are skyrocketing as prospective students complete for a place. The top schools already admit just a fraction of those who apply to their programs so aiming for a school’s average is a good benchmark. 

Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800 and the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test, says that two-thirds of test-takers score somewhere between 400 and 600. To get into the most prestigious schools, however, you’ll probably need to do much better. 

Stanford Graduate School of Business in California, for example, achieved a fresh high for its MBAs last year, a 740 average GMAT score. That’s up by three points from the year before and 11 points higher than five years ago. 

Dennis Yim, director of academics at Kaplan Test Prep and a long-time GMAT instructor, says that each applicant has different goals. But there are general guidelines that aspiring business school students can follow to get the score needed for their dream school.

He says: “Our biggest piece of advice is do your research. What is the average GMAT score of accepted students at the schools you’re interested in? What do the admissions departments have to say about required minimum scores? Once you’ve done your research, use these numbers in your goal-setting process.”

Beyond the minimum score required and the average score of admitted candidates, some business schools will also publish the GMAT scores for the middle 80 percent of admitted candidates, which can give applicants a good sense of the range of scores a school might consider as competitive.

On the GMAT, you will actually receive five scores:

A total score, ranging from 200-800
A math sub-score, ranging from 0-60
A verbal sub-score, ranging from 0-60
A score for your AWA, ranging from 0-6
An Integrated Reasoning sub-score, ranging from 1-8

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers:

Total score: 710 – 800
Quantitative sub-score: 51+
Verbal sub-score: 40+
Integrated reasoning: 8
Essay: 6

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers):

Total score: 650 – 700
Quantitative sub-score:  48-50
Verbal sub-score: 35-39

Integrated reasoning: 7
Essay: 5.5

Schools check individual sections of GMAT scores as they make their admissions decisions. So it’s important to take them into account as you prepare for the exam. “It’s not uncommon for attention to be placed on the quant side of things, but we are also really concerned with the verbal score as well,” says Rotterdam’s Kirby. 

“Because our cohorts are 97 percent international, it is vital for a student to have a good command of English. First, to be successful in the program, but especially for job placement opportunities afterwards. 

“Also, if a score isn’t as high as we’d like it to be, we tend to look really closely at each section. There have been times when we have rejected candidates because of scores in the individual sections – even if the overall score is in line with our acceptance criteria.” 

Retaking the GMAT

Candidates who do not get a satisfactory score can cancel it and take the test again. Kaplan’s Denis says: “If a test taker believes he or she can make up significant ground by retaking…then yes, by all means, retest. 

“Everyone can have an ‘off day’ and if something popped up to throw you off your game and you don’t think the score truly represents your ability, go for it.” 

Ultimately, although GMAT scores are important, they are not the sole factor admissions committees use to decide whether you are admitted or rejected from their MBA course. 

Russ Morgan, senior associate dean for full-time programs at Duke Fuqua, advises: “Be yourself in the rest of the application. Be genuine and authentic. Help us understand why you want this degree and what you hope to do with it. Help us understand why you believe Duke is the right fit.

“You can improve a test score – but you can’t fake your way through being a fit – and usually we can spot that pretty quickly in the application.” 

]]> Mon, 14 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Scholarships for International Students in the US]]> With an MBA degree now equivalent to a six-figure sum at top US schools, it is easy to see how the price can dismay international students, who also often have to fork out on travel and living expenses. 

Yet there is a ray of hope on the horizon, as there is a wealth of scholarships available for international students who want to get an MBA in the US. Many US schools have strived to make their classrooms more representative of the world: diversity is a priority, and they are prepared to pay for it.  

Eliminating financial barriers is most definitely a focus for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, says Shari Hubert, associate dean for admissions. “Our international students bring a uniqueness to our culture and community that is invaluable to the student experience, especially given the global and geopolitical context we live in today,” she says. 

When Fuqua analyzed data from the last three years, it found scholarships offered to international students had gone up almost 60 percent. Fuqua offers scholarships awarded based on merit, for which all applicants are considered. 

A bevy of other top schools offer scholarships, either based on merit or on need. “Today’s MBA applicant appears to be quite price sensitive and very concerned with the return on their investment. Lowering the cost of an MBA through a merit-based financial aid award does make the MBA degree more accessible,” says Jim Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid at the Kelley School of Business in Indiana. 

And with so many business schools competing for the same pool of applicants, there’s never been a better time for MBA students to request and negotiate for maximum merit-based aid. “Factors commonly cited in allocating merit-based aid include attracting students from traditionally underrepresented groups,” says Alex Min, CEO of admissions consultancy The MBA Exchange. 

“Students who are successful in getting additional merit-based aid are those who manage their post-admissions communications thoughtfully, carefully, and respectfully,” he adds. 

“They convey genuine enthusiasm around the offer of admission, and gratitude for additional time and consideration invested by the school in considering a revised aid offer.” 

MBA scholarships for international students offered by US business schools

See a list of all MBA scholarships in FIND MBA's Scholarship Directory.

Kelley Merit Fellowships — The fellowships are available to students who show strong academic and leadership skills and range from $10,000 to $25,000 for each academic year. Awards given to first-year students can be renewed in the second year. 

Joel Dean Scholarship — First year students at Virginia’s Darden School of Business from an unrepresented minority group with financial need, can apply for funding. 

The Wallman Fellowship — At University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, MBAs who show outstanding potential can apply for the cash, with underrepresented minority groups and women preferred. 

The Forward Focus MBA Scholarship — Arizona’s W.P. Carey School of Business offers the award only to full-time MBAs including internationals. It’s funded by university donors and covers 100% of their tuition fees — currently $98,800 for international students. 

Global Fellowships — The $25,000 awards are offered to students in Kelley’s full-time MBA program. Priority is given to students from Latin America or those with work experience at companies in the region. 

Private scholarships for international MBA students

Forte Fellows — The program was created to boost the number of women in business schools. Students of all nationalities are eligible to apply. To date, schools including top US ones such as Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, Dartmouth College and Georgetown McDonough, have dished out $142 million to more than 6,300 Forte Fellows. 

Consortium for Graduate Study in Management — the organization offers fellowships for MBAs with strong academic credentials and a proven record for promoting inclusion in their school, job or personal life. It’s designed to boost the representation of minorities in US business schools. 

American Association of University Women (AAUW) — the association offers awards to female students at top US schools such as Wharton who are domestic or international. International fellowships provide between $18,000-$30,000 and overall AAUW has provided $3.7 million in funding over the past year. 

Government/institutional funded scholarships for international MBA students

While much financial assistance is specific to business schools, there are general sources of funding aspiring MBAs can apply for. 

Fullbright Foreign Student Program — among the most well-known US government-funded scholarships, Fulbright is available to graduate students including those at business schools who study for a minimum of one year. It provides cash to 155 countries worldwide, with approximately 4,000 foreign students receiving the scholarships each year. 

OFID Scholarship Award — The OPEC Fund for International Development provides scholarships to those studying master’s degrees at accredited universities around the world, including America. The awards are worth up to $50,000, covering tuition fees and a monthly allowance for living, accommodation, travel and other expenses. 

Loan assistance programs

Read: MBA Loans and Other Alternatives: How to Finance Your MBA

Fuqua Loan Assistance Program — Fuqua has a generous loan assistance program for internationals, which makes it easier for them to invest in their education. International students using a no-cosigner loan option may borrow up to 90 percent of their cost of attendance — estimated by Fuqua to be $186,630 in total for the two-year MBA. 

Columbia Business School Loan Assistance Program — Columbia in New York City offers loan assistance to encourage MBAs to take management positions in the public and non-profit sectors, which typically pay less. International MBAs are eligible to apply and applicants earning $80,000 or less are given priority for the scheme. Loan assistance ranges from $2,000 to $10,000. 

NYU Stern Loan Assistance Program — the program provides finance for those who wish to pursue career paths in social enterprise, which tend to have smaller compensation packages than traditional MBA careers. MBA graduates can apply within the first 10 years of graduation to help them pay off their student debt.

]]> Mon, 07 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Loans and Other Alternatives: How to Finance Your MBA]]> When Gabriela Rodrigues was accepted to the MBA program at ESMT in Berlin, she knew she would have to get a bit creative with funding her education. 

To pay for her first installment confirming her enrollment, Rodrigues, who is from São Paulo, started looking at her options with banks in Brazil. But her choices were far too expensive. 

“I asked my bank in Brazil to provide me a figure for how much it would cost me for doing the transfer, and it turned out to be far too much with all the taxes, rates, and fees, especially given the real to euro exchange,” she said. “So I had to be really clever about how would I proceed with this.” 

Since ESMT accepted bitcoin as a form of payment, Rodrigues ended up contacting a bitcoin-savvy friend to talk about her options. She ended up financing that initial payment with a combination of bitcoin and personal savings—which saved her a significant amount in fees. 

“When I bought it, the value was increasing a lot—I was a little afraid of losing time, but the whole process was so fast,” Rodrigues says, adding that she saved mostly on fees. “That way I could protect myself a little from the risk. But I was really fortunate to have a friend who already knew how to navigate the bitcoin world—otherwise I probably would have given up and gone with the bank.”
MBA costs are on the rise, making financial planning for your degree even more critical. The tuition rates for one-year MBA degrees in the UK regularly exceed £10,000 ,with top programs like London Business School costing up to £78,500 for tuition alone. Top two-year programs in the US can be even higher, some surpassing the $100,000 mark. 

In the US, the student loan industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry, and hyper-competitive; traditionally, banks have provided these loans directly to students. However, there are also federal loans issued by the U.S. Department of Education, including subsidized loans for students with financial need, and unsubsidized loans, which do not require applicants to demonstrate financial need. Federal student loans have flat interest rates set by Congress, while private student loan rates depend on your credit score. However, loans are generally not available to international students, at least without a cosigner who’s a US resident.

The UK government also offers similar schemes; UK or EU students who meet certain criteria are eligible to apply for the Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study from the government, which provides a loan of up to £10,000 per student for postgraduate master’s study. However, for many MBA students, this still isn’t enough to cover most tuition costs. Eligibility for student loans from the UK government can also be tricky; loans are essentially only available to students who have lived in the UK for at least three years before the start of their course.

Emerging MBA loan options

It gets fairly complicated for international students. These cost challenges can be even higher depending on the banking situation in their home country, as well as currency concerns. 

“In developing nations, options are even more limited,” says Ricardo Fernandez, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Prodigy Finance, a provider of student loans to MBA students and other postgrads. “India is the only country that has established a student loan industry over the past 10 years—there are several banks and new financial companies that lend to students studying in-country and outside, but amounts are limited. Other developing countries have very few options for students studying abroad, which is historically why they have focused on savings or scholarships.”

Many international students turn to Prodigy, which originally launched as a peer-to-peer funding program for INSEAD students but now works with a roster of 85 schools. Roughly 83 percent of Prodigy-funded students had no alternative source of educational financing.

For Rodrigues, currency fluctuation was a significant factor in her decision to take a Prodigy loan to finance her MBA. 

“I was really concerned about the exchange rates,” she says. “So I decided to take out a loan on the euro with Prodigy; I figured I’d be here after graduation. In Brazil I’d have to pay there, and that would be much messier. Plus the rates with Prodigy were really good—and I could pay six months after graduation.”

Financial technology companies are also disrupting the industry in recent years, with relative newcomers like SoFi, CommonBond and Earnest also providing MBA loans. 

Then there’s always the self-financing option; Bharti Syal, an MBA student at Lancaster University, says that she was already planning on doing an MBA two years before she applied, so she began saving early. Syal did her undergraduate in Chennai, India, and worked in digital transformation for six years, spending one of those years in London.

“I didn’t want to take a loan; it becomes a headache when you’re trying to focus on your studies,” she says. “My father also helped out, and I was saving most of the money I was earning in India and London as I was already in the mindset of preparing for an MBA. It’s always good to save money where you can.”

Syal also received a scholarship from Lancaster, which provided £9,000 of the £29,000 cost of tuition. She says that anecdotally, roughly a third of her peers took out loans to finance their MBA. Rodrigues notes that most of her classmates finance their MBA with a mix of scholarships, savings, and a loan. 

Some financial planning advice

There are myriad roads to financing an MBA program, and at times it can seem overwhelming, particularly after counting in other ballooning expenses like living costs. But experts say that there are more options than students may think. 

“The biggest misconception we see from students that come from emerging economies is that they don’t think they can get financing,” says Prodigy’s Fernandez. “Their current salary or lack of salary doesn’t justify a loan, and that is why companies like Prodigy Finance were created—to look at the future earnings potential of students.”

Another common misconception is that they can only access small loans for tuition, Fernandez adds—but students can borrow for both tuition and living expenses.

Syal says to do plenty of thorough research—to self-fund when you can, in order to avoid paying fees and interest. But even if that’s not possible, don’t give up. 

“Don’t get disheartened if you’re just thinking about how to finance an MBA,” she says. “Look up all your options; go look on different websites, get people’s opinions, and find out which on is better for you. Only then decide—clear your doubts before taking a loan, but don’t give up because you don’t have money to fund it.”

Rodrigues gives the most business-school appropriate advice when it comes to financial planning: have a plan B. 

“Don’t take all of your cost out on a loan, because you do have to repay it after all,” she says. “But maybe you’ll graduate, and you won’t get that job that was supposed to pay off all those loans. Have a plan B, because it’s not as magical as it sounds. Try to make good mix of your savings and loans, and be prepared with a backup—you might not find your dream job right away.” 

Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 Cropped/Student Loan/Nick Youngson

]]> Mon, 07 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Six Ways to Use the Summer to Prepare for Your MBA]]> Getting into an MBA program is tough, but the work should not stop once you receive your admission offer. A business school curriculum is rigorous, and candidates often find it hard to adjust after several years in the workforce. 

Preparation during the summer months can make the transition back into academic life smoother. There are several things that students can do to prepare for their MBA before they start. 

1. Take online courses 

Some schools require that students take pre-courses before the MBA to prepare themselves academically. At Harvard Business School in Boston, about one-third of incoming MBAs who don’t have extensive business training take online courses called CORe: economics for managers, financial accounting, and business analytics. 

“Faculty have reported that CORe does an exceptional job of getting students up to speed, helping them contribute meaningfully to case discussions in the classroom from day one,” says Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBX, Harvard’s digital learning initiative. 

He adds that, since it focuses on group learning, CORe can help students entering any MBA course: “This sort of peer-help experience is one that is valuable for individuals who are planning on attending any MBA program.”

“It’s rare that programs today won’t require group projects.” 

Other online course providers, such as Coursera and MITx, also offer a range of business courses, so you can get your head into some of the topics you’ll be exploring during your MBA.

2. Connect with your classmates 

Forming bonds with classmates is critical to success in an MBA course. Some students go traveling in the summer before their MBA to do that. At Cambridge Judge Business School in the UK, treks are organized by students but supported by the Careers Office. Last year, incoming MBAs flew to San Francisco to meet alumni and visit companies including Facebook, Google and Accenture. 

Likewise, incoming MBA students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management can choose to embark on a week-long travel trip to various countries, where they network with their new classmates and provide community service.

And the networking often continues online: Cambridge students also join a LinkedIn group, and are generally proactive in forming other groups on channels such as Slack and WeChat, where they organize meet-ups prior to the MBA to form the bonds that are essential to peer learning. 

3. Do an internship or attend a boot camp

The summer months are also a good time to begin thinking about your post-MBA career path. 

Some business schools advise incoming students to attend summer networking sessions and even do an internship, before the MBA even starts. “Several companies are now offering opportunities for students to participate in pre-MBA internships as a way to learn about the organization in advance of starting their MBA,” says Julie Papp, senior associate director of MBA career education and advising at MIT Sloan School of Management. 

She adds: “We typically suggest to students that spending some time during the summer prior to starting their MBA program is an ideal time for both reflection and research.”  

Many business schools typically offer various ways for students to build their careers before even starting an MBA. For instance, incoming MBAs at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business can work in a Booth-led startup for six to seven weeks before starting the actual program.

Students starting the MBA at China’s CEIBS can attend a Pre-MBA Boot Camp, where they can learn about the program curriculum and spend time in Shanghai.

4. Brush up on your language skills

While most MBA students are already highly proficient in English (it’s generally an admissions requirement for English-language MBA programs), those who do not speak the local language fluently are advised to practice, ideally in the country they are studying in, or take a refresher course to re-orientate themselves. 

Boston University of the US, for example, offers a pre-MBA course for incoming students that includes language and communication skills development via oral presentations and case studies. They also learn to explain their points in clear and accurate English, in speech and in writing.

Some schools offering English-language MBA programs in countries where English is not the main language also offer pre-MBA language courses, to help students feel more comfortable in the country where they’ll be studying. For example, Berlin’s ESMT offers students the opportunity to attend a three-month long German language course before the MBA starts.

5. Plan your schedule

Given that full-time MBA programs are highly intense, students should think ahead about how they will manage their time and course materials, says Gale Gold Nichols, director of student services for the full-time MBA in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. 

She says: “Finding a system for keeping track of everything is crucial. 

“It’s helpful for the student to think about the different categories of activities that they will need or want to engage in and devise a plan to allocate time to each one during the week, as well as to keep track of assignments.”

“Feeling that they are on top of things and getting them done can be a big relief!” 

Nichols adds that students should put a support structure in place as they begin the program to strengthen physical and mental health: “This might include regular calls or video chats with loved ones back home, setting time aside for exercise or yoga each week, or planning a weekly date night with your spouse/partner…[which] can make a big difference to the student’s success.” 

6. Get some rest

Amid all the preparation, from online classes and language learning to networking sessions and career treks, business schools say students should not forget the importance of downtime to prepare for an intense academic program. 

“Each student is an individual and will decide how much time they need to prepare for the year ahead,” says Margaret O’Neill, head of admissions and careers for the Cambridge MBA. 

“A number do take some time off to relax and reflect before the programme starts, or come early to settle in their family, but equally many do not. 

“Ideally, students would allow themselves enough time to get settled in their accommodation, get to know the city and sort out all the practicalities — including acquiring that essential mode of Cambridge transport — a bicycle!”

]]> Mon, 30 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Programs for STEM Professionals: On the Rise]]> It is a truth well known that America faces a shortage of workers in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. While the nation has focused on getting more kids into coding, an equal challenge is finding managers who can work with engineers to plan well a project’s strategy and finances. 

Annual demand for those with data science skills, for instance, will reach nearly 700,000 openings by 2020, according to IBM. 

To make matters worse, the unstable political environment is already deterring overseas talent from the US and skilled graduates are often prevented by immigration laws from securing work in the country. 

But the root of the problem is a growing skills gap in education, including university, and inadequate workplace training. 

Business schools have recognized the issue and are offering MBA and other master’s programs specifically for STEM professionals — including the Wisconsin School of Business and University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business — that often include employer training programs. 

Growing employer demand for STEM graduates 

“There is a shortage of skilled workers in many different STEM fields, and there has been a particular explosion in demand in recent years for students with skills in analytics,” says Greg DeCroix, director of the Supply Chain Management specialization in Wisconsin’s MBA course, which is STEM-designated.

“This is why companies may look to STEM-designated programs for hiring — it signals knowledge in these areas.”  

The MBAs and related courses have core management modules such as accounting and sales but add STEM specific skills including data science and advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and deep learning. 

Many of the courses are also officially recognized by the US government’s STEM designation scheme, which has been established to help address a significant dearth of technical talent. 

Wisconsin also received a STEM designation for its Operations and Technology Management MBA specialization, which focuses on technology, entrepreneurship and healthcare, as well as management science.

DeCroix says that international students looking into the program seem to be very interested in the STEM designation, “so it certainly has the potential to increase the applicant pool — which is part of the reason we pursued the designation”. 

Since the business school has only had the designation in place for a short period of time, it is too early to tell whether employer demand will rise. But anecdotally, DeCroix says “there have been companies looking to recruit our students who responded positively when they learned about the STEM designation”. 

Other, more well-established STEM programs have harder evidence of employer demand for their graduates. At the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, 50 percent of the MBA students taking the Technology Leadership Track, which is not STEM-designated, are hired by tech companies including Facebook, PayPal and Microsoft, according to its director Tim Derdenger.  

“Our mission is to educate the next generation of senior executives,” he says. “Because we provide management skills as well as technical training, the shelf-life of our degree is long. Our students get the best of the both worlds. The in-depth general management education will help them move into more senior positions.” 

International STEM students get 36-month US work visa 

A STEM course not only helps students develop the skills employers are crying out for, but can also make it possible for internationals to remain stateside for longer than they could otherwise. Graduates of STEM-designated programs can apply for an additional 24 months stay in the US after graduation—on top of the typical 12 months—and receive training through work experience. 

“The designation opens doors to STEM-specific scholarships, grants, financial assistance, and employment opportunities for students and graduates,” says David Deyak, assistant dean with the Tippie school, which offers three STEM-designated courses: the Master’s in Finance, Master’s in Business Analytics and the full-time MBA, which is being disbanded. 

“We have found that companies are attracted to the idea that a student can work for up to three years after graduation,” he says. “The designation provides increased stability for both these future employees and their companies.” 

Enno Siemsen, Wisconsin professor of operations and information management, adds: “Before the designation, international students could remain in the US for only a year before their visas ran out.

“Adding two more years to that is a real value, taking pressure off MBA students and giving companies with global operations the chance to hire employees who can go abroad but be steeped in the company culture first.”

A path to entrepreneurship 

While many STEM-focused courses are designed to prepare students for corporate careers, MIT Sloan School of Management focuses on technology entrepreneurship. 

With more of its MBA students founding startup companies, MIT introduced a Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, in which participants develop business plans and compete in competitions for seed funding. 

“They also do extracurricular classes, they travel to Silicon Valley to see startups in action,” says Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. 

He says applications to the certificate course have risen by 30% this year compared with the year before, and that around 10% of MITs MBAs go on to found their own fledgling enterprises. “We give students the space, time, and support structure to launch a tech company,” he adds. 

Business schools offering STEM MBAs and other programs:

  • Wisconsin School of Business: Operations and Technology Management MBA specialization
  • Wisconsin School of Business: Supply Chain Management MBA specialization
  • University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business: Full-time MBA program
  • Tippie College of Business: Master’s in Finance, 
  • Tippie College of Business: Master’s in Business Analytics
  • Caroll School of Management, Boston College: Master of Science in Finance 
  • University of Connecticut: MS in Financial Risk Management 
  • University of Connecticut: MS in Business Analytics and Project Management 
  • Whitman School of Management: Masters in Finance
  • SMU Cox: Master of Science in Finance degree 
  • University of Rochester - Simon Business School: MBA
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Foisie Business School: MBA
]]> Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA or Master in Finance: Which to Choose?]]> Those banking on a career in the financial sector have a plethora of choices of qualifications that will help them get one. Conventionally, the MBA has been the degree of choice for anyone wanting to work on Wall Street. The degree covers a broad curriculum of finance, strategy, entrepreneurship and more. 

However, in recent years a more focused option has emerged. The Master in Finance (MiF)—sometimes also known as an MSc in Finance—has become increasingly popular. In general, the MiF teaches a more rigorous set of technical abilities in addition to transferrable skills — such as data analysis, statistics and computing — that are vital to a wide range of jobs, according to Alex Stremme, director of the MSc in Finance course at Warwick Business School in the UK. 

He says that application numbers to the program are up by 12 percent this year compared with three years ago. 

MBA or MiF: what’s the difference? 

There are fundamental differences between the MBA and Masters Programs in Finance. For one, MiF candidates are usually fresh out of their undergraduate school with little or no professional work experience, and are looking to break into the financial sector. In contrast, MBA candidates typically have several years of experience and are often about to enter middle or senior management positions.

At IE Business School in Spain, MiF candidates are aged between 19-25 and 45 percent have no financial work experience. On the school’s MBA, the average student is 30 with six years’ work experience. 

The two degrees also teach a different set of skills, although there is some overlap. An MBA is broader than the MiF and equips graduates with knowledge of the different aspects of business. Meanwhile, an MiF is more specialized and offers students in-depth knowledge of finance, such as investment banking, asset management and corporate finance. 

The MiF is meant for those who are absolutely certain they want to start or continue working in the financial sector. At IE last year, 64 percent of MiF graduates worked at investment banks, says Viet Ha Tran, admissions director for the MiF course.

“It is the applicant’s career goals that should determine which program is best suited for them,” she says. 

What do employers think?

Employers value the deep and specialist financial knowledge of an MiF degree, which can give graduates an edge, says Felix Papier, dean of academic programs at France’s ESSEC Business School. “This is one of the key advantages of the Master’s in Finance and explains the competitive salary of our graduates in the international job market.” 

However, an MBA provides students with more flexibility in their careers than an MiF, whose students may miss out on the broad management knowledge that could propel them into more senior positions. “They say that the knowledge gained in an MBA is more horizontal and the knowledge in a MiF is more vertical,” says Ha Tran at IE, who adds that “an MBA is normally a requirement for many managerial jobs”. 

This means that MBA students typically earn more after graduation than MiF candidates do. “Median starting salaries for early career Master’s in Finance students is $75,000,” says Heidi Pickett, director of the MiF at MIT Sloan School of Management in the US. 

“Comparatively, the median starting base salary for MBAs [is] $125,000,” although “this varies by industry and the number of years work and type of experience prior to returning to business school.” 

She says that a typical MiF graduate will start their career in financial services as an analyst and from there get promoted to associate, associate vice-president, vice-president, senior vice-president, and so on, with increasing levels of responsibility.

“Meanwhile, MBA students take a variety of career paths. In consulting, for example, an MBA will be hired at a senior consultant level; in financial services as an associate; and in tech companies product manager has become a popular post-MBA role,” adds Pickett.  

What about tuition fees? 

While MBAs begin in higher positions than MiFs and are paid more, the degree itself can cost MBAs dearly. “The MBA program has a higher cost than the Master’s in Finance” because the MBA curriculum is broader and offers electives and other extracurricular learning activities, says ESSEC’s Papier.

Tuition fees for an MBA at ESSEC’s France campus is €45,000 for 2018-2019. The MiF costs €22,500.

But Papier adds that price is not a major element of consideration for prospective students. “It is more about the professional [experience] and a student’s profile that influences their decision to choose between the two programs,” he says. 

What’s more, the MBA and MiF are not mutually exclusive. “We sometimes have candidates who have already done a Master’s in Finance and who, after some years of additional work experience, are looking to further progress their careers into top management,” Papier says.

“For those candidates it makes sense to complement their specialist knowledge with a more general management education.” 

In the same vein, MBA candidates can specialize in finance through electives. 

Ultimately, both programs offer the potential for high-paying career opportunities in the financial sector, with good progression. But if you’re looking to branch out, an MBA is your best bet.

]]> Tue, 24 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Three Fantastic MBA Internships]]> Each summer, thousands of MBA candidates decamp from campus to work internships at some of the world’s best-known brands. We spoke to three MBAs who did cool internships to find out what they learned, and how you can follow in their footsteps. 

Gregory KimThe esports pioneer 

Video games have been Gregory Kim’s lifelong passion, so when the opportunity to work at games maker Riot Games emerged, he jumped at it. 

“Esports is a hot topic,”“ says the MIT Sloan MBA candidate, referring to the video game tournaments where players compete for prizes of up to $10 million USD. The industry generated more than six billion total viewing hours in 2016 and is on track for annual revenues of $1.5 billion USD by 2020 — up from $693 million in 2017. 

But with no formal MBA internship path at Riot, like many fledging entertainment companies, he had to rely on his networking abilities to secure a summer internship. 

Kim worked with Riot in Los Angeles between June and August 2017. He graduates from the MBA this year.  

“The chance to work in esports didn’t come up until I had direct conversations with Riot during the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2017,” says Kim, who was the event’s Esports Lead. 

“I met my future manager and did an informational interview at the conference, then went through the full interview process over the phone, followed by a day of interviews on-site,” Kim says. 

What made him stand apart from the pack in the “intensive” process? “It was important to demonstrate familiarity with the industry and the professional competitive League of Legends [a video game] scene as a whole, plus the ability to structure problems, and capacity to think in ambiguity,” he says. 

Leveraging the MBA was vital, too. “Working in a brand-new space meant a lot of adding structure to ambiguity,” Kim adds. 

“Researching the league operation models in America’s most popular traditional sports was straightforward. 

“But thinking about how they could be applied to the characteristics of a nascent esports industry, and aligning league structure and incentives with greater business priorities, were both problems that leveraged what I’ve learned at MIT Sloan.” 

So it is all fun and games in the nascent esports industry. 

Sithuthi JebarajMelding medicine with management 

An internship at Blue Cross Blue Shield, which provides health insurance to nearly one in three Americans, was the perfect way for Sthuthi Jebaraj to combine medicine with management. “As a medical doctor who practiced in India, it was eye-opening to experience it [health insurance] from the inside,” says the Babson College MBA student, who will graduate in 2018. 

“I don’t have a business background and the MBA program gave me credibility as well as the basic skills to understand the different roles and functions in business,” she says. 

Jebaraj also got to exercise her creative side, as she joined Blue Cross’ innovation team, which practices “design thinking,” a human-centered approach to problem solving that places patients’ needs at its core. 

“The interview was based on a design thinking challenge,” says Jebaraj, who worked the internship in Boston from June to August last year.  

“Thanks to my [MBA] entrepreneurship class, I had had a taste of design thinking. I got my classmates to actually do the challenge and then described the process and the outcome during my interview.” 

The key to a successful internship is to demonstrate passion for the job, says Jebaraj. “People can tell if you are really passionate or just faking passion.” 

Ask as many questions as you can to gain expertise, she adds. “Most people will be happy to tell you the truth and since you are on the ‘inside’ you can really get a feel for the [company’s] culture.”

“An internship is an opportunity to learn and practice.” 

Lucas BohidarCombating potential terrorism at the NFL

Lucas Bohidar spent summer 2017 protecting the multi-billion-dollar National Football League (NFL) business from a wide facet of threats — think potential terrorism, player misconduct, gambling, game-fixing and unruly fans. 

“The position within the NFL’s security department piqued my interest because it allows interns to utilize a cross-functional set of skills learned in business school, such as finance, operations and business analytics,” says the Tepper School MBA student, from the Class of 2019. 

“Ensuring the safety of an organization’s consumers and employees is a challenge that every company faces,” adds Bohidar, who has played football and followed the NFL since elementary school. 

“Being able to leverage my MBA education to protect the NFL’s teams and fans is both an exciting challenge and a transferrable learning opportunity.”

A self-styled “analytics fanatic,” Bohidar believes Tepper’s focus on data was an ace up his sleeve during the interview process. “At Tepper, we approach nearly every business problem by looking at the data,” he says. 

“It was evident from the job description and throughout the recruiting process that the NFL was seeking out highly analytical candidates for this role. 

“So I believe pursuing an MBA from CMU directly gave me an advantage in my internship pursuit.” 

Bohidar advises MBA interns to network — one of the most valuable parts of the job. “A summer internship allows candidates to form ties with future colleagues or business partners,” he says. 

“For those hoping to translate their internship into a full-time job offer, their network will also be important advocates on their behalf during the [full-time] hiring process.” 

]]> Wed, 11 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Careers in Finance: Where Are the Opportunities?]]> Finance has lost some luster among business school graduates since the global financial crisis and the savaging of banks’ reputations.

Punishing work hours, onerous regulation and the growing popularity of Big Tech and management consultancies have contributed to a 40 percent fall in interest in a career in banking, according to The Financial Times.

But financial services remains a high-paying and fast-paced career path that continues to attract many an MBA.

There is wide array of work areas, from buy-side firms to wealth managers and fintech challengers, which are all hiring a larger number of MBA students than in the past, business schools say.

“Finance is a vast arena with many different disciplines, roles and affiliated skill-sets,” says John Madgwick, head of finance careers at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

“Over the last three years we have seen a steady increase in absolute hires and a growing percentage of interns being offered full-time roles at the end of the summer.”

The biggest change in the industry since the financial crisis has been the growing role of technology such as blockchain, which enables the fast and frictionless transfer of assets over the internet.

“Fintech is disrupting the traditional financial services sector, especially in asset management, payments and insurance,” says Margaret O’Neill, head of MBA admissions and careers at Cambridge Judge Business School.

“And we are seeing a growing interest in this area from those [MBA students] who may have previously been interested in more traditional finance roles.”

One route into the fintech sector is the Spotcap Fellowship, which provides up to £8,000 towards the cost of an MBA and a path to working at the Berlin-based online lender.

Niels Turfboer, UK managing director of Spotcap and an IE Business School MBA graduate, says he created the scholarship to address a talent shortage. A survey by recruitment website Indeed found that 20 percent of top fintech job vacancies were left unfilled after 60 days.

[See the Top 10 MBA Programs for a Career in Finance]

Turfboer says: “The rising cost of graduate studies, combined with the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, could create real challenges when it comes to ensuring a strong and healthy talent pipeline [in the UK].”

What do financial services firms look for in MBAs?

Some financial services firms prefer prior industry experience, but many remain open to hiring people from diverse backgrounds.

Molly Deale used her MBA from the Darden School at University of Virginia to transition from Broadway to banking. She previously worked as a milliner — someone who makes or sells women’s hats — in New York City. Over the summer of 2017, she interned at Credit Suisse as an investment banking summer associate. She will graduate in 2018.

“It seems like such a crazy switch, but I was always interested in finance and economics,” says Deale. “I would always read the paper and see big deals like Amazon acquiring Whole Foods and think, that’s a great idea, who thought of that deal?”

To make a career transition into finance, it’s important to have a good story that you can relate to the job you are applying for, Deale says. “When I worked in in millinery, it was a small company, but I could see what a little bit of money could do for growth,” she adds.

“In investment banking you do that on a larger scale, you help companies raise debt or IPO or acquire another company to get technology.”

The career opportunities for women in the finance sector have improved dramatically since the downturn, says Paul Reeder, senior director of financial services careers at Darden’s Career Development Center. “Companies (including the investment banks) are very keen on hiring women into their workforce,” he says. “A third of Darden students who are doing investment banking internships in summer 2018 are women.

“Both the student clubs and the companies have done a great job of supporting female candidates, and recruiting women into a finance career path.”

Who’s hiring in the finance industry?

In terms of the kinds of firms that are hiring MBAs, there are some bright spots in some parts of the finance industry. For example, there has been an increase in MBAs going into venture capital firms, compared to a decade ago, says Maeve Richard, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Meanwhile, the more traditional finance jobs in such areas as investment banking, investment management and hedge funds, saw declines.

[Related Article: After the MBA: How to Break Into Private Equity]

“Overall, the percentage of our graduates going to finance dropped by 11 percent from ten years ago,” Richard says. “This shift is a reflection of the attractiveness of opportunities and growth in the tech sector that, little by little, exerted a stronger pull on graduates.”

Indeed, tech companies such as Amazon have recruited increasingly large numbers of MBAs with the promise of high pay, a good work-life balance and an entrepreneurial culture.

Some financial services firms have upped their game to compete with Big Tech. “There is some evidence to suggest that banks are starting to examine their working practices around work/life balance, access to childcare, paternal and maternal leave,” says Oxford’s Madgwick.

“There is also a noticeable push to attract students with a technology and engineering background.

“This includes better efforts to advertise the fact that if students want a seat in the disruptive world of fintech, then they will also find one inside the banks, probably with a lot less risk than joining a startup.”

Careers in finance don’t have to be hectic

Although many people think of careers in finance as fast-paced and high-intensity, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Jielin Zhang is a current MBA student at Oxford who says a career in finance does not have to be so intense.

She has secured a summer associate intern position with JPMorgan’s private bank in Hong Kong. Previously, Zhang worked in international development and management consulting. “My experience in consulting was hectic,” she says. “I went to five different cities in a week, I was living in a hotel basically.

“I wanted to slow down. I realized after talking with alumni and peers I wouldn’t enjoy the lifestyle of an investment banker. Private banking is a slower pace and more suitable for my current lifestyle.”

Her advice for other MBAs hoping to make the transition into a finance career is to go the extra mile when networking. Alumni of Oxford put her in touch with people in the industry, who provided an overview of a private banker’s job.

“Talk to people, as you never know when someone will open the door for you,” says Zhang.

Image: Carlos Delgado  / CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)

]]> Wed, 28 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Careers: How to Successfully Transition into Consulting]]> Each year, Bain & Company recruits 200 people into its 10-week summer associate (internship) program, the majority of whom will be MBAs. The prestigious consulting firm says prior industry experience is not needed. In fact, Bain & Co values a variety of backgrounds; past interns have been doctors, teachers and even a professional drummer.

“We absolutely hire MBAs with all types of experiences,” Keith Bevans, partner and global head of consultant recruiting at Bain & Co, tells FIND MBA. “Students that are successful have the analytical skills to crack tough problems and the people skills to inspire teams and clients. Those underlying skills can be found in a wide range of careers.”

Zoe McLoughlin, head of consulting at London Business School and former recruiting manager at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), says that most firms share Bain & Co’s view. “The big strategy consulting firms tend to hire candidates post-MBA for their transferrable skills, rather than for specific knowledge or experience,” she says. “For this reason, it is a very popular choice for career switchers and we see a lot of students transition from careers in the military or legal profession, to consulting after their MBA.”

Kelly Wilson, executive director of MBA Admissions at the Tepper School of Business, adds: “Career switchers comprise a large segment of the MBA applicant pool. The MBA is a perfect way to retool and pivot to a different industry or function.”

%link_box_sc_{"text": "The Top 10 MBA Programs for Consulting", "link": "/lists/top-business-school-by-speciality/top-business-schools-for-consulting"}%

And according to Stephane Ponce, global consulting lead at INSEAD, career-switchers do not just get hired by consulting firms, but can enjoy rapid career progression too. “We have seen students who worked as engineers or investment bankers who joined consulting firms who have done really well and moved up the corporate ladder to partner level,” she says.

Consulting is among the most popular MBA career paths. At INSEAD, around half of the MBA cohort will be hired by firms including McKinsey & Company in any given year.

Just why is the field so appealing to MBAs? “It gives them exposure to all types of industries, from tech to consumer goods to private equity,” Ponce says.

It is also challenging, with consultants tasked with solving the most difficult challenges faced by multinationals.

Ponce adds: “The fast career progression, the high level of compensation, the international mobility programs in place in large firms and the excellent career opportunities post-consulting, make the sector particularly attractive.”

How to pull off a career transition into consulting

So how do you use an MBA to get into consulting? The key is to translate your achievements and skills into the language that consulting firms use, says McLoughlin at LBS. You should show how you have solved creative problems and influenced key stakeholders to achieve success — essentially what a management consultant does.

“If, however you identify gaps, like quantitative ability or relationship management, then the MBA gives you a great platform to develop these skills both in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities like internships or involvement with student clubs,” McLoughlin adds.

While it’s important to demonstrate technical ability, soft skills are equally as important to consulting firms, according to INSEAD’s Ponce. “They want to find well-rounded individuals who have strong communication and presentation skills, and who can work very well with senior clients and their teams,” she says.

At Bain & Co, Bevans recalls a standardized test tutor who “blew him away” with their communication skills. “The skills to explain complex problems in a crisp, clear way was a strength,” says Bevans. “That made this person really effective with clients early on in their career, and an awesome coach to team members.”

Utilize your career services team

Do not forget to utilize your career services team. Eunice Bii used an MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business to transition from an analyst role to consultant. Bii works at BCG in New York city and says she used her MBA’s career services to better understand the consulting recruitment process. Consulting firms usually require several rounds of interviews and case studies in which candidates solve business challenges.

“We talked about how to leverage my strengths when networking and at the same time, being honest about the areas I had to work on before interviewing,” she says.

McLoughlin adds: “The case interview is obviously a critical part of the recruitment process. But being fantastic at cases is irrelevant if you don’t also build rapport with your interviewers and have some great stories to tell.

“The fit interview is the chance to really shine a light on your individual strengths and students neglect preparing for this at their peril.”

Bevans says the best interview candidates at Bain & Co ask questions that show they have done their homework in advance. But those whose responses appear too scripted can let their applications down. “It’s fairly obvious when someone is putting on a show, and I’d really encourage interviewees to stay true to themselves during the process,” Bevans says.

That means using your prior industry experience to your advantage, whatever field you come from. Ultimately, consulting firms not only accept people from non-traditional backgrounds, but covet them.

]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA Applications: How Important is the GMAT?]]> A poor GMAT score is decisively the biggest killer of applications to MBA programs. For many aspiring students, getting a score of 700 or more can be the difference between attending a top business school, or not. GMAT scores are also linked to scholarship funding and some employers use them to assess job candidates.

However Dennis Yim, director of academics at Kaplan Test Prep, says that students should not be blinded by GMAT score averages. "By definition, half of students admitted will fall below the median GMAT score for each school," he says.

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business last year received 3,796 applications for its prestigious MBA course. It admitted just 849. Russ Morgan, senior associate dean, says that the GMAT is important but he takes a holistic view of each application. At Fuqua, 'middle 80 percent' GMAT range-that is, the GMAT range for the majority of incoming MBA students-is between 640 and 750. "Test scores like GMAT and GRE are an important metric, but cannot tell the whole story," he says. "They are just one component of the application."

Morgan says that that the GMAT does test academic fit and readiness for a program. "That's critically important in being able to predict success academically." However, what the score can't assess is the cultural fit and a person's leadership potential, which can help them secure a place.

"What we are looking for in the application process is not only a commitment to self-improvement but a desire to also make other people better," Morgan adds. "We are also looking for a genuine belief that business can be a force for good in the world. You can't assess that from a test score, so we place tremendous value on the interview process, as well as our essays."

Ballooning GMAT scores mean increased competition

Most business schools sing a similar tune; claim that they do not require a minimum GMAT score for entry to their MBA courses. But some probably do.

Stacy Blackman is a leading admissions consultant who has helped people gain admission to Harvard Business School, Stanford and Wharton, among other schools. She says that because GMAT scores play a role in MBA rankings and since prospective students often judge a school on how they perform in rankings, "admissions teams place an unnecessarily high value on test scores."

It would seem that prospective business school students are heeding Blackman's advice; data suggest they are getting better at the GMAT. According to The Economist, which collects GMAT data to help create its MBA rankings, the average GMAT score two decades ago was 688. In 2014 it had increased to 722. Stanford reached a new record GMAT average of 740 with this year's incoming MBA class.

Blackman says this reflects increasing competition to secure a place on a top MBA course. The elite business schools typically admit roughly 10 percent of the applicant pool. Candidates are routinely spending 100 hours studying for the GMAT and some even employ tutors to give themselves an edge in the application process. "Competition just keeps raising the bar higher and higher," Blackman says.

There are several other reasons for the rise in GMAT score averages. Candidates can now preview and cancel their GMAT scores, right after taking the test. Also, the GRE has also emerged as a rival to the GMAT for those who struggle with the GMAT. This means the lowest GMAT scores are probably not being sent to schools. "Allowing test takers to cancel low GMAT scores and retake the test after more preparation is having the anticipated impact of raising scores," says Kaplan's Yim. In the 2016 testing year, 27 percent of all GMAT test takers cancelled their scores, up from 19 percent a year earlier, he says.

Students are also cancelling relatively high scores. The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, says that roughly a third of all candidates with a total score lower than 650 cancelled their exam scores. The trend means that prospective MBAs must study intensively or risk losing out on admission to their dream school.

How to overcome a low GMAT score? Be exceptional.

While some prospective MBAs are indeed admitted with a low score, they are truly exceptional in every other aspect of their candidacy. "We might find an extremely compelling candidate based on everything in their application but might also find they have a GMAT score that departs from our average," says Fuqua's Morgan.

In that instance, the school would instead turn to undergraduate coursework for an indicator of whether a candidate can thrive academically. "If we can find that, we are not only open to admitting that student, but are truly excited about inviting them be a part of Fuqua," Morgan says.

Kaplan's Dennis Yim would agree.

"I have had several students successfully get into elite programs based on other pieces of their application that made them compelling candidates," he says. "This included everything from being a decorated combat vet to starting their own business. Even if you are a bit below the median, go for it."

The bottom line: there are ways to overcome a low GMAT score. But it will make it considerably more difficult for you to get into business school.

]]> Thu, 15 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA Rankings - Canada]]> With its broad range of cities and industries, not to mention liberal visa policies, Canada is a popular destination for international students looking to study for an MBA. Some international students even study in Canada with the goal of staying the country to work after graduating.

A handful of top schools in the country are currently featured in a few top international MBA rankings. Canada hosts a number of world-class, accredited business schools; here’s an overview of the Canadian business schools offering ranked Full-Time MBA programs, with a focus on the rankings from Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, and the Financial Times.

Western University - Ivey Business School: Overview and rankings

Established in 1950, Ivey Business School is located in London, Ontario, which is about 200 kilometers by car from Toronto, which is Canada’s financial hub. In addition to offering a one-year long Full-Time MBA program that begins in March, the school also offers an Executive MBA program and an Accelerated MBA for graduates of the school’s undergraduate business program. Ivey also runs an EMBA program out of its Hong Kong campus.

As of 2018, Ivey’s Full-Time MBA is currently ranked at position number 11 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s International MBA Ranking, meaning that it’s currently the highest ranked of all Canadian business schools in that publication. In this ranking, it’s fallen rather precipitously since 2015, when it was ranked as the top school in the world outside of the United States.

Ivey is also ranked in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, with grads reporting the highest salaries of all Canadian MBA programs that are ranked in that publication. Additionally, Ivey is the top-ranked Canadian business school in the current Full-time MBA Ranking from The Economist.

The high salaries—the MBA class of 2017 reported, on average, salaries of over $103,000 CAD—are not surprising, considering the industries that the grads are going into. Of the class of 2017, 31 percent went into the consulting industry—working for firms like KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group—and 28 percent went into financial services. Other major recruiters include Amazon, Deloitte, Johnson & Johnson, BMO Financial Group, and Accenture, among others.

Of the Full-Time MBA class of 2017, the vast majority (95 percent), landed jobs in Canada. 

Ivey’s Executive MBA program is also ranked by the Financial Times.

Queen's - SmithQueen’s University - Smith School of Business: Overview and MBA rankings

Also located in Ontario, Canada, Queen’s University’s business school was founded in 1963. In addition to its Full-Time MBA program, Queen’s offers a range of other master’s-level programs in business.

In terms of rankings, Queen’s is currently ranked 16th—second best among all Canadian business schools—in Bloomberg Businessweek’s International MBA Ranking. It’s also the second-best Canadian business school in the current Full-Time MBA Ranking from The Economist. 

The school was also previously ranked in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, but it fell out of this ranking in 2018.

According to the school, the average salaries of its 2016 and 2017 MBA grads was just over $109,000 CAD. Of these classes, almost one-third went into the financial services industry, while 24 percent went into consulting. Technology firms like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Uber, were also major recruiters. 

Although the school has published a detailed employment report for its 2016 MBA graduates, it has not done so for its class of 2017.

The school’s EMBA Americas program, which it runs in partnership with Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, is also ranked in the Executive MBA Ranking from the FT.

Toronto - RotmanUniversity of Toronto - Rotman School of Management: Overview and MBA rankings

The University of Toronto’s business school was established in 1950, in downtown Toronto. Beyond its Full-Time MBA, the also offers a range of part-time and Executive MBA options. 

In the FT’s Global MBA Rankings, Rotman’s MBA is currently ranked number 86, which, in that publication, makes it the second-highest ranked of all Canadian business schools (after McGill.) In this ranking, it’s been on a steady decline in recent years; it was ranked 44th in 2012 and 60th in 2016, for example.

In Businessweek’s International MBA Ranking, Rotman is currently ranked 22nd.

The school has long been strong in financial services placements; that’s no surprise, since the school is based in Canada’s financial capital. Over 43 percent of Rotman’s MBA class of 2017 went into this industry, as did 37 percent of the class of 2016. Consulting firms generally snap up around one-fifth of a given MBA class.

The school reports that the average salaries of its 2017 MBAs were over $120,000 CAD per year.

The school’s EMBA program is also ranked by the FT.

McGill - DesautelsMcGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management: Overview and MBA rankings

Founded in 1906—when it was the Department of Commerce—McGill’s business school has been offering MBA programs in Montreal since 1963. It currently offers a Full-Time MBA, as well as an Executive MBA in partnership with HEC Montreal and a range of other master’s programs in business.

Coming in at position number 78, McGill Is currently the top-ranked MBA in Canada in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times. 

In the Bloomberg Businessweek International MBA Ranking, McGill is currently ranked 28. 

In terms of salaries, McGill’s MBA class of 2017 landed jobs with a mean of just over $93,000 CAD, according to the school. The majority of the class (87 percent) found jobs in Canada.

Ryerson - RogersRyerson University - Rogers School of Management: Overview and rankings

Ryerson’s Rogers School of Management is another Toronto-based Canadian business school, which launched its Full-Time MBA programs in 2006. The business school is one of over 20 business schools in Canada that are accredited by AACSB International. 

Newly listed in the most recent International MBA Ranking from Bloomberg Businessweek, Ryerson is currently ranked at position number 24 in that publication. 

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According to the school, its MBAs make just over $109,000 CAD per year, after graduation. One-fifth of the school’s grads tend to go into the consulting sector, 17 percent into technology firms, and 15 percent go into finance. A healthy number of Ryerson MBAs also go into the consumer packaged goods sector and healthcare as well.

HEC MontréalHEC Montréal - Overview and MBA rankings

Although HEC Montréal is a French-language business school, it is also increasingly offering English-language programs. It currently offers its Full-Time MBA—in either French or English—as well as an EMBA in partnership with McGill and another MBA aimed at engineers. The school is one of only two business schools in Canada that are ‘triple-accredited;’ meaning, it has accreditations from AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB.

HEC Montréal is currently ranked at position number 31 in the International MBA Ranking from Bloomberg Businessweek. 

According to the school, its MBA class of 2016 found jobs making over $81,000 CAD, on average. The school has not published its 2017 MBA career salary data. 

York - SchulichYork University - Schulich School of Business - Overview and MBA rankings

This Toronto-based school first launched an MBA in 1965, and has been growing its offerings ever since. It currently offers an MBA, and International MBA, plus several other master’s-level business offerings and an MBA in India.

Schulich is currently ranked 69th in the Full-Time MBA Ranking from The Economist, which makes it the second-highest Canadian business school featured in that ranking. It was also previously ranked in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, but fell out of that ranking in 2015. 

According to the school, the graduates of its most recent MBA class made almost $92,000 CAD per, on average. A good chunk (28 percent) of the school’s MBAs go into the financial services sector.

The Executive MBA that Schulich runs in partnership with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is also currently ranked in the Executive MBA Ranking from the Financial Times.


  • Canadian flag by Christopher Policarpio / CC BY 2.0 (cropped, rotated)
  • Richard Ivey School of Business building on the campus of University of Western Ontario by Balcer / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Photograph of Goodes Hall, the building of the Queen's Business School by Andrew pmk / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • McGill - Desautels by abdallahh / CC BY 2.0 
  • Ted Rogers School Of Management by Hoice / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Photo du HEC by Riba / CC BY-SA 2.5
  • The Seymour Schulich Building, York University by Theonlysilentbob / CC BY-SA 3.0
]]> Mon, 12 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA Full-Tuition Scholarships: Myth or Reality?]]> Getting a scholarship to cover the full tuition cost of an MBA program? Where do I sign up?

Last year, the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business announced that all students admitted to their full-time MBA program who were not receiving other sponsorship would be offered a full-tuition scholarship. Over the past couple years, Arizona State University's Carey School of Business has also been heavily subsidizing its Full-Time MBA program with full-tuition scholarships as well.

As exciting as this prospect may be, it’s a rarity among top business schools. According to business school representatives, full-tuition scholarships do exist, but they are not doled-out indiscriminately. 

“If someone were to apply to the full-time program and be admitted, and they had a very impressive application package, they could be offered a full tuition scholarship,” says Katie Radcliffe, director of admissions at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA“Approximately 80 percent of our full-time MBA students in the most recent class received a merit-based scholarship, of which the average amount was over 60 percent of tuition,” says Radcliffe.

“Amounts range from $10,000 to full tuition. The percentage of students that receive a full-tuition scholarship varies widely each year.”

So, what does a business school look for in an impressive candidate? 

Typically, GMAT or GRE scores and GPAs play a role in selection for all merit-based scholarships, including full-tuition scholarships. “Not because we want our average metrics to be high,” she says, “but because we want to make sure the candidates will be very successful in the classroom. We’re wanting to award merit-based scholarships to those who show high potential for success.”

However, “no scholarships are solely determined based on test scores or GPAs,” says Radcliffe. “We’re also looking at career progression, leadership and initiative in the workplace and outside the workplace, and community service.”

Radcliffe says finding the right fit between student and MBA program is the most important criteria. 

Ruthie Pyles, the Graduate Programs Admissions Director at Washington University at St. Louis’s Olin Business School agrees that finding that “fit” is an important factor.

“Other things [aside from test scores] that we’ll consider include how a student represents themselves in the essays, for example: alignment with the university, alignment with our mission and goals, the types of things that they want to have an impact on while they’re here, and within our community, that all plays a role as well,” says Pyles.

“We want students that are very well qualified, that are academically strong, that have really strong metrics,” she says. “But, at the same time, we are very interested in attracting individuals that come from a variety of different backgrounds but are interested in being a part of this community and making an impact on this community.”

At Rice University, Radcliffe says more full-tuition MBA scholarships are typically offered in first round of admissions, with fewer offered in consecutive rounds, meaning it pays to get your application in as early as possible if you’re eyeing the top awards.

Beyond full-tuition scholarships

For those incoming MBA students who are not selected for a full-tuition scholarship, not all hope is lost.

This is because business schools also offer additional merit-based awards, beyond the rare full-tuition scholarships.

Central library at Vanderbilt UniversityFor example, at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, about 60 percent of MBA students receive at least some scholarship funding, according to Christie St. John, the school’s director of admissions. The average amount is $25,000 and annual tuition currently sits at $53,990 per year.

The top-tier scholarships are awarded to Dean’s Scholars, who are offered full tuition, as well as funding for study-related travel, research or special projects. They also gain access to exclusive networking events and mentoring.

“Dean’s Scholars are the crème de la crème, having excellent undergrad academics, top GMAT scores, outstanding interpersonal skills, and a career record of achievement and impact,” says St. John.

“We have a total class of 170 per year, so the Dean’s Scholars make up about 4 percent of the class. In addition, there are a few other candidates who may receive a full scholarship because of their outstanding academics, but who may not qualify for a Dean’s Scholarship for one reason or another.”

Indeed, to woo the most impressive candidates, some business schools offer scholarships that not only cover the full MBA tuition, but also provide stipends, an allowance for living expenses, and other kind of support. These awards, often called ‘full-ride’ scholarships, are rarer still than the full-tuition scholarships.

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“We have something called the Crownover Scholars Program,” says Radcliffe at Rice - Jones, “which is a full tuition scholarship, plus an annual stipend, and that’s based on the evaluation of a number of things but, in general, leadership.”

For these kinds of awards, business schools will typically be looking for more than just a strong GMAT score and good undergraduate performance. 

“We’re looking for a pattern of leadership in an applicant’s resume, a progression,” says Radcliffe. “We’re looking for initiative, that they’re taking leadership roles outside of the workplace, taking them inside the workplace as well and really making an impact.”

Other scholarships help make MBA programs more affordable

Beyond merit-based scholarships, many business schools will offer MBA scholarships to students from underrepresented minorities and other groups of applicants. Some of these scholarships can cover the full cost of tuition. 

For instance, Vanderbilt – Owen has partnered with the Forté Foundation, which aims to advance women in business. The foundation offers scholarships in partnership with business schools, as well as mentoring and strengthening opportunities for its fellows.

St. John says, “we award about 20-30 Forté fellows every year. That amount can range anywhere from $10,000 to a full scholarship.”

Other full-tuition scholarships might be awarded to veterans.

Similarly, Washington University at St. Louis’s Olin Business School partners with The Consortium, which aims to boost diversity in the US business community by offering scholarships to MBA students who promote inclusion.

Pyles says “the types of opportunities that are part of scholarships with these organizations go beyond the financial aspect.”

“It is about connecting them to career opportunities, guiding them through the process and helping them understand how to present their value proposition.”

“I think the return on investment you get here is far greater than with a stipend,” she says.


  • Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA by Daderot CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Central library of Vanderbilt University by Jbaker08 CC BY 2.0
]]> Thu, 08 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Do Entrepreneurs need MBAs? The Benefits of an MBA in Entrepreneurship]]> If you’ve watched the HBO television series Silicon Valley, then you will have seen just how difficult it can be, even for the most talented entrepreneurs, to succeed without an adequate understanding of business and management.

Indeed, although today’s entrepreneurs need a good level of technical skills—and let’s face it, a healthy dose of luck—business acumen can go a long way towards getting a successful startup off the ground. That’s where an MBA comes in.

An MBA, since it covers all the essential parts of business, from finance to operations management, will give an up-and-coming entrepreneur a good grounding for a successful startup.

But do you need an MBA in order to succeed? What’s to stop somebody with a big idea to skip the MBA and jump right in?

One thing an MBA can do is expose students to the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship, without the risk that normally comes with launching a startup in the real world.

Darden School of Business offers an MBA in EntrepreneurshipAnd, luckily for the would-be entrepreneur, business schools are offering an increasing number of relevant courses. According to Sean Carr, the executive director of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, MBA students at Darden have access to at least 28 entrepreneurship classes. 

“These are highly experiential, hands-on courses across a broad range of entrepreneurial activities. Everything from finance to developing new ideas to marketing to operations and so forth,” says Carr.

Likewise, the MBA at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School offers a number of courses—including a full-on concentration in the field—that are aimed to expose students to the breadth of what’s required as an entrepreneur.  

“One of them is on design thinking and innovation management, another is how to start a tech company, another one is venture capital and entrepreneurship, plus financial management for startups,” says Carla Keen, MBA Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Keen says the core course in entrepreneurship—which every MBA student is required to take—was developed to enable every student on the Cambridge MBA program the opportunity to learn key entrepreneurial skills.

“It’s an introduction to entrepreneurship, it gets students developing their thinking in a more entrepreneurial way,” says Keen.

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“Because we find even if students don’t want to go on and become entrepreneurs and start their own companies, a lot of companies are saying they want graduates to come with an entrepreneurial mindset.”

“They want intra-preneurs, they want people within the company with that thinking.”

Learning to be an entrepreneur, outside of the classroom

Cambridge Judge Business School, where MBAs can study entrepreneurshipBut it’s more than just books and lectures: today’s MBA programs are helping students become entrepreneurs by getting them out of the classroom and, effectively, into startups.

For example, business school-hosted accelerator and incubator programs provide ‘safe spaces’ for new startups, where students can often work with mentors to hone their business plans and turn them into reality.

Cambridge is home to a startup incubator called Cambridge Accelerate, which helps support new ventures; Darden hosts the i.Lab incubator, which provides funding, office space, legal help, and other support for startups.

Other schools offering accelerator or incubator options include Harvard Business School, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, plus Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, among others.

Sometimes, business schools also run startup competitions as well; the MBA-led startup with the best business plan can come away with substantial funding.

For those MBA students who aren’t ready to jump into an accelerator or a startup competition, some business schools also provide internship and consulting project options, where they can get entrepreneurial experience, while working in somebody else’s startup or small business. Students in the Darden MBA program, for example, have two different opportunities to pursue internships in startups.

Likewise, students in the International MBA program at France’s EMLyon Business School can participate in a nine-month long Entrepreneurial Leadership Project, where they can work with startups on new product development and other activities.

Founding a startup during your MBA

But do all of these offerings really help new entrepreneurs? For at least one recent graduate, the answer is yes.

Portia Asli is the CEO of health tech startup Vocalens, which she founded with a classmate during her time on the Cambridge MBA.

Asli, whose background is in civil engineering, says that the resources that the business school provided were indispensable during the startup process.

“One of the things an MBA can do for you, as someone who wants to launch a business, is give you access to resources you would not otherwise have access to,” says Asli. 

Asli lists the access to entrepreneurship competitions – and being able to get in front of companies, investors and potential future customers – as valuable opportunities she could take advantage of during her time at Cambridge.

“The most important thing an entrepreneur can have at the beginning is accessing as many free resources as possible. I could never have been part of the incubator, Accelerate Cambridge, if I wasn’t a student at Cambridge University.”

Asli says the time the MBA gives you to explore potential new ventures is something that can make an MBA worthwhile for hopeful entrepreneurs.

“The fact that you have one year off to work on your business idea is actually quite a blessing. You can dedicate all your study, all your extra-curricular work, to be aligned with whatever you want to launch,” she says.

It’s one of many compelling reasons for budding entrepreneurs to take on an MBA.

Sean Carr at Darden agrees. “If you think that having a great education around entrepreneurial thinking and developing your ideas, if you feel that getting a network of colleagues who can challenge you on your ideas and maybe join you as a teammate, having access to mentors, low-cost incubators, access to the capital, early-stage technology, and the support of an institute like ours, if none of that is important to you, then no, you don’t need an MBA to become an entrepreneur,” he says.

“But that’s an incredibly powerful package that I believe can accelerate your success.”


  • Server room by CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Darden School of Business by tldagny CC BY 2.0
  • Cambridge Judge Business School by CGP Grey
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