For those considering an MBA course, it may seem natural to stay in your country of origin – but for those with a globalist outlook, a love of travel, or a simple desire to get away from the City, there’s no better place to study than the birthplace of the MBA: the USA.
Studying for an MBA abroad can give you a global business perspective and make you more attractive to prospective employers. If moving Stateside sounds like your cup of tea (or, more likely coffee) you’d be right to consider the move: seven of the top 10 MBA programmes in the world are in the US.
There are myriad reasons to take an MBA, from advanced career prospects and progression, to the opportunity to network and meet invaluable business contacts. But most who enroll on an MBA do so with money in mind – between the top 10 US and UK schools offering an MBA, the average earnings of US graduates are over 25 per cent higher after three years.
Although in name, the qualification you’ll receive in the US will be identical, there are some major differences in programme structure. American business schools tend to sit on far larger campuses, meaning that when it comes to choosing electives, there’s a plethora of subjects available across a multitude of disciplines.
Say you’re studying for an MBA in the US, and see a business opportunity within the field of biomedical science – you can take an elective to gain indispensable knowledge that will improve your understanding, and opportunity to make money.
Frank DeVecchis, director of MBA admissions at the Wharton Business School, says that the structure (more than 200 electives) “really allows for flexibility, while at the same time giving students the fundamentals of what makes business possible. Our core curriculum caters to our students’ interests and learning styles – teaching them concepts that are relevant to their aspirations and interests.”
The difference in cost between top flight British and American MBA programmes isn’t as much as you’d think, although there are other costs that make the total difference significant. The fact you’ll have to fly to the US is clearly a major outlay but additions like your visa, accommodation and health insurance soon build up. Based on the difference between the Said Business School in Oxford, and the Harvard Business School (HBS) the former will cost you around £60,000, whereas for a UK citizen, the latter is far in excess of £80,000.
A considerable number of those who enroll on MBA programmes do so through a work-based sponsorship, but not everyone has that opportunity. For those who wish to self-fund their return to education, American universities generally offer “need-based fellowships” – support from alumni and friends of the university who wish to invest in students.
The cost of investing in an MBA is significant, even for those already grounded within an industry, and fellowships are a very typical way of saving money – some 50 per cent of the MBA class at HBS receives an average of approximately $37,000 (£29,000) per year in need-based fellowships.
US business climate
Financial rewards aside, one of the biggest lures of attending an American business school is having the opportunity to operate within the US business climate. Finding a way to work in the States is often difficult without prior contacts, knowledge, or experience of the country.
The way of operating isn’t vastly different to the UK, although scale is everything: salaries are far higher, businesses are far bigger, and opportunities are as good as endless. The US is the home of global tech, banking, and financial institutions, and the opportunity to meet people who can present you with these opportunities is absolutely indispensable for someone wishing to find a way to work in America.
“Our students have access to the world’s largest business school network – with more than 95,000 alums in more than 150 countries,” says DeVecchis. “The ability for our students to tap into that network is invaluable.”
Whether you decide to pursue an MBA at home or abroad, the US clearly has strategic benefits for those wishing to accelerate their career. Maura Herson, director of the MBA programme at MIT Sloane, says that it “signals the market that you have spent two years outside your home country and have learned about US business. In addition, given our rich set of action based learning opportunities – working with businesses at MIT and throughout the world – students develop and demonstrate a broad, global outlook.”
You don’t necessarily need to sign up to a US school to achieve a global perspective on business, of course, or even to study abroad. London Business School is just one institution to offer the opportunity to spend a term overseas, including in the United States.