Five Emerging Destinations for Your MBA: Vietnam, Chile, South Africa, Malaysia, Poland

Five Emerging Destinations for Your MBA: Vietnam, Chile, South Africa, Malaysia, Poland

The market for MBA programs is globalizing, with emerging and lesser-known countries offering unique opportunities for international students. Vietnam, Chile, South Africa, Malaysia, and Poland are becoming increasingly popular choices for pursuing an MBA. 

Each of these countries offers distinct advantages and potential challenges. Below, we explore what makes these destinations appealing and what to consider when choosing them for your MBA journey.

Vietnam: a rising star in Southeast Asia

Vietnam’s dynamic economy and growing business sector make it an attractive destination for MBA students. The country’s strategic location in Southeast Asia provides access to burgeoning markets, including China.

Vietnam’s economy has been one of the fastest-growing in the world, offering ample career opportunities in various industries such as technology, manufacturing and services. The price of living in Vietnam is relatively low, making it a cost-effective option for international students. 

Additionally, Vietnam offers a vibrant cultural experience, with its unique traditions, cuisine and history enriching the overall educational experience.

“Vietnam has been a major travel destination recently, known for its landscapes, cuisine and deep cultural heritage. Economically, it is very dynamic and has changed rapidly in the last 40 years,” says Lily Bi, president and CEO of AACSB International, which accredits business schools.

Among AACSB’ seven members in Vietnam is the CFVG French Vietnamese School of Management. Fabien De Geuser, dean at CFVG, says: “Vietnam’s  remarkable Asian heritage and unique culture, combining more one thousand years of history, along with a young population and strong state institutions, is of interest to management students.” 

Other well-regarded local business schools include Hanoi School of Business and Management (HSB) and the Faculty of Business Administration, Ton Duc Thang University. 

However, there are challenges to consider for some students. While English is becoming more common in business, Vietnamese remains the primary language, which can pose challenges. Moreover, some areas, particularly outside major cities, may lack the infrastructure found in more developed countries.

Chile: a gateway to Latin America

Chile is known for its stable economy and high-quality education system, making it an appealing destination for MBA students interested in Latin American markets.

Chile boasts one of the most stable economies in Latin America. Chilean universities are known for their rigorous academic standards and strong emphasis on research. Furthermore, from the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, Chile offers stunning landscapes, providing a unique backdrop for your studies.

On the other hand, Spanish is the primary language of instruction, which might require additional language training for non-Spanish speakers. Additionally, in major cities like Santiago, the cost of living can be relatively high compared to other Latin American countries.

Andrew Main Wilson, CEO of the Association of MBAs (AMBA), says: “Chile has lots of quality schools with great MBA programs. For the most part these will be taught in Spanish, offering a great opportunity for Spanish speakers seeking a job in Latin America, or working for a multinational which focuses on the region.” 

He adds that many of the MBAs in Chile are part-time programs, so this country might be more suited to international students looking to move to and work in the country. AMBA-accredited business schools in Chile include Centrum PUCP and the Business School of Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez.

South Africa: a diverse learning environment

South Africa offers a diverse and dynamic environment for MBA students, with a strong focus on entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

South Africa’s rich cultural diversity provides a broad perspective on global business practices. As a gateway to the African continent, South Africa offers unique opportunities for those interested in emerging markets. English is the primary language of instruction, making it accessible to a global student body.

However, certain areas in South Africa have higher crime rates, which can be a concern for international students. Moreover, while there are many opportunities, the economic disparity can be stark and may require careful navigation.

Wilson, from AMBA, says: “If a student wants to learn in an African context, then this would be a fantastic way to do it. Studying in South Africa could be a cost effective way of getting a high-quality education for a relatively low price. Our schools have great campuses where safety is a priority.” 

Those schools include Gordon Institute of Business Science, Stellenbosch Business School and University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. 

Malaysia: a blend of tradition and modernity

Malaysia’s blend of traditional cultures and modern infrastructure creates a unique environment for MBA students. Good local options include the Graduate School of Business, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Putra Business School, Universiti Putra Malaysia. 

The country’s diverse population provides a multicultural learning experience. Tuition fees and living costs in Malaysia are relatively low compared to Western countries. Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia also offers solid career opportunities in the region.

While English is widely spoken, Malay is the national language, and some MBA programs may require proficiency in it. Additionally, the tropical climate, with high humidity and temperatures, may take some getting used to for international students. 

“Malaysia boasts one of the largest international student populations in Southeast Asia,” says Bi, at AACSB International. “The Malaysian government prioritizes higher education in the country, which bodes well for the future growth of universities.  Students looking to study in Malaysia will find the cost of enrollment is significantly lower than many others. However, lower cost does not equate to a lower quality of education.” 

Poland: a hub of European education

Poland is gaining recognition for its high-quality education system and strategic location in Central Europe.

Poland offers relatively low tuition fees and living costs compared to Western Europe. Polish universities are known for their strong academic standards and research. Poland’s rich history and vibrant cultural scene can provide a stimulating environment for international students.

“Polish institutions invest in the internationalization of academic connections and programs taught in English,” says Eric Cornuel, the president of EFMD Global, which accredits three business schools in Poland, including Kozminski University, SGH Warsaw School of Economics and the Faculty of Management, University of Warsaw. 

While many programs are offered in English, knowledge of Polish can be beneficial for daily life. The climate can be challenging, with cold winters that may be a new experience for students from warmer climates.

Cournel adds: “The war in neighboring Ukraine and the volatility of domestic politics present some risks, but it is overall a very attractive study destination.”


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