This post originally appeared on Stacy’s ‘Strictly Business’ MBA blog on U.S. News
It seems there’s never been a better time to consider pursuing an MBA abroad. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s recently released “Application Trends Survey Report,” in 2017 a majority of business school programs in Europe, Canada, both East and Southeast Asia and India reported growing application volumes.
These days, a high-quality graduate business education can be found in almost every corner of the world. For years, Europe has rivaled the U.S. with top-notch programs. With several excellent one-year program options that carry a lower price tag than their American counterparts, Europe lures in many international professionals looking to enhance their careers without sacrificing two years of salary and opportunity costs.
But the possibility of shorter, cheaper MBA programs isn’t the only appealing aspect of earning an MBA overseas. Consider these additional three reasons to expand your b-school search beyond U.S. borders.
1. You’ll build an international network. We’ve all heard the adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Nowhere is that more true than in business school, where the potential to network is arguably the most valuable aspect of the MBA experience.
Although American business schools offer powerful alumni networks, so do international MBA programs. For example, HEC Paris offers one of the largest alumni networks in Europe, with more than 50,000 individuals based in 130-plus countries.
If your professional aspirations include globe-trotting and working in international locations, it makes sense to either study in the region where you hope to one day work or among an ultra-diverse cohort of students who can help you land that coveted position in Paris, Hong Kong or Dubai.
2. You’ll be more attractive to employers.Having international experience that goes beyond a two-week immersion project or even a semester abroad will get you noticed by CEOs, especially those whose organizations maintain offices or clients in multiple countries.
Choosing one geographic area can limit your possibilities, because employers need people who have insider experience in foreign markets and industries, can lead a global team and have the cultural awareness that makes transitioning into new markets successful.
Also, attending a program in a country where English isn’t the primary language allows you to use or strengthen a second language in a professional setting – a skill employers find extremely valuable.
3. Your age and GMAT scores may play better abroad. Competition is fierce at elite U.S. MBA programs, and older applicants or those with middling GMAT or GRE scores may find themselves out of the running when pitted against a pool of applicants averaging 720 on the GMAT. Students at business schools outside of the U.S. tend to be in their late 20s or early 30s.
With this uptick in age usually comes more seasoned personal and professional development, which European MBA programs value. Lower average GMAT scores, likely due to the numerous applicants who are nonnative English speakers, can also make global MBA programs more accessible.
At the University of Oxford’s Said Business School, for example, the average GMAT score for the Class of 2018 was 690, with an average of five years of work experience.
Meanwhile, at IMD in Switzerland, admitted applicants had an average GMAT of 670, with seven years of work experience. And at HEC Paris, successful candidates of late have averaged a 690 GMAT and had an average of six years of work experience.
If your personal and professional goal is to live and work abroad, considering schools outside the U.S. is a no-brainer. Not only will an overseas education likely cost less, yield attractive employment offers and provide you with an unparalleled network that spans the globe, it can also provide a rewarding personal experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.