Though the USA seems like a traditional choice for MBA studies, Europe can offer students a great deal in terms of diversity, international perspective, and recruiter appeal. With programmes tending to be shorter, international career mobility makes it easier to land the right job with a high salary for a high ROI. Studying in Europe can prove to be a unique experience, providing students with ample opportunities to broaden their horizons, both academically and culturally.
For the most part, schools in Europe do not have the long history of some of their well-known counterparts across the Atlantic. Most business schools in the region were founded in the second half of the last century. The first American Master of Business Administration programme was founded at Tuck Business School at Dartmouth in 1900, whereas Europe waited another 57 years for the creation of INSEAD.
In Europe there was an academic tradition that business and management were not really suitable subjects for a reputable university to teach. This had a big impact on the development of business schools in the region and it was only after the Second World War, when Europe was suffering economically, that universities accepted the need to become involved in teaching business.
As a result, Western Europe boasts some of the preferred MBA destinations for applicants: IESE Business School, IE Business School, IMD, HEC Paris, INSEAD, London Business School, ESADE Business School, Cambridge Judge, Manchester Business School…
By its very nature, Europe is multicultural because its citizens enjoy frequent business and leisure contact with neighbouring states across a relatively small area. Leading European MBA programmes make effective use of this diversity within the learning environment, with faculty members from Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, the US and Asia. INSEAD notes that its faculty represents 33 nationalities. Though many of them have graduated from American universities, it is their background and different cultural perspectives that are of significance.
GMAC reports state that the percentage of international students in European MBA programmes is 83%, while in the US it is 38%. They are also from diverse backgrounds – some international MBA programmes are particularly stringent about preventing a "dominant" culture from emerging. On Swiss business school IMD's 90-person MBA programme, participants are of 35 nationalities, while Americans comprise just 7 percent of the student body. "By the time you graduate, you can work with anybody," says Joseph Hartzell, an IMD graduate now working for Novartis in Basel, Switzerland. European MBA programmes focus on the international and multicultural aspects and many institutions have developed exchange programmes with partner universities.
Individual attention and language learning opportunities
US schools are generally larger, with an average intake of 287 full time students, compared with 124 in Europe. And though class size is rarely discussed as a factor of significance, individual attention can be quite important in an MBA programme. Smaller classes provide a good base for student-professor interaction, as well as the opportunity to learn from fellow students. The average age of MBA students in Europe is higher, most of them professionals in a certain field. Many MBA students have shared that they have been recruited, upon finishing the programme, based on the recommendation of a classmate. Last, but not least, is the opportunity to learn a new language. Even though English is predominantly the teaching language in most MBA programmes, living in a foreign country and interacting with native speakers can do more for perfecting language skills than years in the classroom.