MBA School Choice: NUS Vs. Nanyang

Singapore provides natural advantages and career opportunities, but which MBA in the city-state is right for you?

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.”

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