Advantages of Studying Abroad During Your MBA

studying abroad during your MBA

How important are travel and education experiences abroad to achieving success in the global economy? That’s almost a trick question since the answer is a resounding v-e-r-y. The ability to work well with an array of people and cultures other than your own has never been more critical. Studying abroad during your MBA is one of the best stepping stones to cross-cultural competence.

Such experiences offer MBA students a unique opportunity for personal growth and development. Immersing yourself in a new culture gives you a firsthand understanding of international business practices. This exposure broadens horizons and fosters adaptability, communication skills, and a global perspective—essential traits in today’s business world.

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studying abroad during your MBA

Why Studying Abroad During Your MBA is So Valuable

Studying abroad helps you break out of routines and prepares you for navigating other challenges throughout your career. Like many business schools, the NYU Stern School of Business offers full-semester and shorter options, known as Stern’s DBi Program. Second-year student Sarah Sprole recently took advantage of a two-week program in New Zealand and shared her experiences on the NYU Stern blog.

“Going on this DBi pushed me to try new things and leave my comfort zone for a few weeks and I’m so glad I had this opportunity!” Sprole said. “Over the course of the two week program, I learned a lot about the business challenges and opportunities in NZ, got to experience new things, deepened my friendships with my classmates and met Sternies in other programs.”

“My favorite lecture was on the Maori culture and customs and how they have permeated throughout the norms of the businesses in New Zealand,” she explained. “We also spent a lot of class time discussing and debating the pros and cons of the risk aversion culture generally observed by Kiwis.”

A Highlight of B-School

Studying abroad during your MBA is also a potential gateway to a global career. Interactions with individuals from various countries—peers, professors, professionals—expand your professional network. These connections can open doors to international career prospects you may not have considered.

Bonnie Kong (Duke Fuqua MBA ’19) spent eight weeks at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) in Holland through Fuqua’s Outgoing Exchange Program. Kong called the term-long exchange one of the highlights of her business school experience.

“Because class sizes were small, I was able to establish relationships with many of the current students and understand Dutch culture on a deeper level,” she explained. “I am grateful for the insights I gained and the friendships I made, as they will be valuable to my career and personal development.”

Do Top B-Schools Have an International Experience Requirement?

Meanwhile, the full-time MBA program at Kellogg School of Management offers quarter-length study options at 25 partner schools. While abroad, students focus on global leadership opportunities—for example, studying luxury marketing in France, family businesses in South America, or finance in London.

Living and learning in a foreign country can be challenging, especially if you’re not fluent in the local language. But with the right support, preparation, and a willingness to dive in, it can be an enriching experience.

“Studying abroad and navigating a new country and a new school is a perfect chance to jumpstart growth,” said Kalyn Chang. She did a quarter-long exchange program in Singapore with Kellogg’s partner school INSEAD.

It gave me a fresh start where I was able to apply what I learned during my first year of business school in a new setting with new people. —Kayln Chang Kellogg MMM ’24.

“Without my usual group of friends to lean on, I was pushed out of my comfort zone and became more independent and confident as a result,” she noted.

Potential Considerations

While the experience is priceless, it’s not all smooth sailing. There’s the money factor to consider. Studying abroad can be pricey, with travel and living expenses adding up. So, before you go, it’s wise to crunch the numbers and look into scholarships to ease the financial load.

Then there’s the academic side of things. MBA programs are notoriously jam-packed. So, fitting in a study abroad stint might take some serious juggling. You’ll want to ensure the credits you earn abroad will transfer back home, so planning is critical.

If you’re considering studying abroad during your MBA, here’s what to remember. First, think about your personal and professional goals and how going global fits into the picture. Then, do your homework. Check out different programs, talk to alums, and get the inside scoop on what to expect.

“Pursuing an MBA at a top business school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” explains London Business School student Sai Kota, who did an exchange this spring at Wharton. “I firmly believe that a carefully planned exchange can significantly enhance and enrich this experience.”

With a bit of foresight and a whole lot of enthusiasm, studying abroad can be a game-changer. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons, make connections worldwide, and grow in ways you never imagined.

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