MBA Admissions Coordinator, Charlotte Russell tackles one dilemma facing applicants- whether to study for an MBA in North America or Europe.
It’s that time of year again when we start to plan ahead for recruiting next year’s class. With this in mind, it will come as no surprise that I’m about to embark on a mini-tour of the East Coast of North America: touring Toronto, Chicago, Washington DC and New York City in search of some of next year’s top MBA candidates. Keep an eye on our events webpage for where else to meet us.
At this point in the year, many prospective MBA candidates are in research mode – attending MBA fairs, open days, trawling the internet and, or, all of the above! With the vast business school market and a variety of options available, it can be an overwhelming experience trying to find “the right fit”.
With this in mind Iet’s address one dilemma facing candidates…
European one year Vs US two year MBA
Lower costs & faster return on investment
Although traditionally North American institutions offer two-year MBA programmes, we are finding that more and more business schools are beginning to introduce one year options due to their growing success in Europe. Apart from the obvious benefit of a one-year programme having lower tuition fees, it is also more cost-effective as you will only be forfeiting one year’s salary. I often find that professionals looking to do an MBA feel apprehensive about taking a two year break from their career and find a one year programme provides them with the key learning opportunities of a two year programme, with a faster return on investment and without the long career break.
The one-year European-style programme customarily puts an emphasis on practical learning with out-of-class learning integrated throughout the year. At Cambridge you’ll get to apply your learning right from the get-go at with the first consulting project taking place in November, as well as a mix of workshops, case studies and mentorship opportunities throughout the year. There are also multiple opportunities to work internationally during the year – as a team on a consulting project with a multinational company and subsequently through the individual summer internship – also anywhere in the world.
A global perspective from peers
The world really is getting smaller and consequently international business is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Many MBA candidates that I meet are keen to gain this global perspective from the MBA and it’s worth mentioning the diversity of your class have a tremendous impact. Typically European 1-year programmes attract a more internationally diverse range of students. It may seem obvious but if the cohort is nationally diverse, you can start building your global network from the confines of the classroom! Furthermore, the MBA learnings will be enriched by varying outlooks and differing international business practices. Don’t be afraid to ask business schools about the nationality breakdown of the current cohort – they may even have this information on their website.
Learn from more experienced classmates
The one-year European programme typically take a slightly more experienced student with Cambridge accepting MBA students in the three to seven years’ work experience range. What this means is that your learning comes as much from your fellow classmates as the course. This highly enriches our system of Special Interest Groups (SIG) where student can share their industry knowledge and gain from the expertise of others at SIG events, workshops and talks. It also means you’re going to be doing projects with individuals that have particular expertise and can collectively make things happen as a result.
If you have lived and work outside of Europe for much of your life opting for a European MBA can give you the opportunity to enhance your profile. It is worth taking an honest look at your profile; if you have worked, studied and lived in the same country, and are looking to work at a top consulting/private equity/venture capital/asset management firm post-MBA – they will be looking for evidence of international experience on your resume. Therefore, taking a year to study abroad will give you strong international exposure, benefitting your personal development, international network and global outlook.
Be prepared to be surprised/challenged/contradicted when choosing an MBA
Whether you choose to study locally or abroad, ultimately, you need to find the MBA programme that suits your needs and there are a variety of resources available for you to find “the right fit”. I highly recommend meeting face-to-face with the admissions staff; it is always good to put a face to your name but be sure to do some research first as it shows that you are proactive and engaged with the programme. If you are unable to attend an event, it is worth sending across your resume and enquiring about whether they conduct 121 sessions over the telephone, especially if you’re looking to study abroad.
The best tip I can give you is to have an open mind; more often than not, candidates find the most suitable MBA programme is not what they had originally thought, which is why I recommend doing as much research as possible. With so many options available, don’t be daunted by the volume of information, feel liberated by it. Once you have narrowed down your preferences and weighed up what is most important to you, you will be well on your way to finding the right MBA programme that fits your career.