A growing number of Americans are heading to European business schools which offer more diverse student bodies and a more significant global experience than do U.S. programs.
According to a Chronicle article, "Global Focus Draws Students to Europe for Business," European MBA program "are making headway in their efforts to recruit foreign students…by emphasizing their multicultural strengths." An additional draw, especially for American students, is the fact that most European programs are only one-year long, allowing students to pay for one fewer year of school and to avoid forgoing an extra year of earnings.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign students entering American MBA programs is dropping. Non-Americans are deterred from U.S. b-schools since foreign work visas have been harder to acquire since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Also, as more and more local options pop up, foreign students become less likely to travel abroad.
The article cites a GMAC study that shows that the number of GMAT scores sent to American b-schools has gone down from 75% in 2000 to 42% in 2009.
According to Pierre Tapie, dean and president of Essec Business School in France, European schools offer a more genuine multicultural experience than the U.S. schools. "We are more international naturally because our countries are smaller and English is not our mother tongue," he says. Most European MBA programs require a minimum of two languages for admission. A new global MBA program at Essec requires that students speak at least three.
While European business schools in general may have a stronghold on diversity and the international experience, there are, however, some American programs that have no trouble holding their own in the global debate. For example, Wharton's students come from 68 countries and represent 36% of the student body; the faculty is 40% international.
Thomas S. Roberson, Wharton's dean, explains that as top European business schools strengthen, so does
Wharton. "The better those schools become, the better the exchanges we can set up for students and faculty," he says. "We do everything conceivable to be an international business school."
According to Ulrich Hommel, associate director of quality services at the European Foundation for Management Development, Michigan's
Ross School of Business, another top U.S. MBA program, "comes closer to the more practice-oriented European model…in which students practice their skills working in teams for companies in different countries."
But when it comes to the sheer number of international students, U.S. programs really can't compare: At IE and IESE, for example, two top business schools in Spain, non-Spain residents make up 90% and 80% (respectively) of their student bodies.
Are you thinking about pursuing an international MBA? Check out our new special report, Internationalizing the MBA, by Accepted's internationally-based consultant and editor, Tanis Kmetyk. (P.S. It's free!)
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