There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing graduate business schools for your Master’s or MBA degree studies. These are especially important if you are planning to study abroad. Allow several months for research so that you can really make a well-informed decision. Look deep into the programme curriculum, student and class profile, professors’ backgrounds, teaching methods, diversity and international exposure, immersion in the real business world, career services, and facilities. Carefully check admission requirements so that you know you have a realistic chance of admission.
The choice is all yours
Going to graduate business school is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you should aim to find the best-matching place for you. No need to compromise. The good news is that there is such a great diversity of business and management programmes that you really can satisfy most of your preferences.
Milestones for success
Business education, especially MBA programmes, is very intense and demanding. The preparation and application process is also challenging and consumes both time and finances. So, when choosing your destination you should make sure that:
- You have a realistic chance of admission
- The overall experience will be worthwhile, during the studies and career-wise
- You will be able to enrol in the programme upon admission
Non-academic factors to consider carefully
However, there are some other crucial factors that you should research carefully well in advance about which you should be very realistic.
If you want to study in a country for which you will need a visa, check well in advance how realistic it is to get one.
Usually the reputation of the chosen university will affect your chances of getting a visa. The more reputable and selective the university, the better your chances of getting a visa.
If you succeed in winning a merit scholarship from the business school of your choice, this will add additional credit to your visa application.
Also, you should make sure that you have all the cash for the full cost of education and living expenses secured in advance. You will need to present evidence of financial ability to finance your Master’s or MBA degree studies.
Finally, there are countries for which residents of some countries or regions will find a visa very difficult to get, even if you have the letter of admission. Put simply, this means that even if you have gone through the whole process of test taking, application and admissions interview, if you don’t get a visa, you will not be able to actually begin your studies. So, you have a choice. You may be ready to take the risk, or else choose a safer option visa-wise.
Check out: The Student Visa – What You Should Know
Graduate studies are a springboard to great career options. However, you should not expect miracles. If your intention is to stay in the country of your b-school upon graduation, check out in advance the work permit regulations. Even if you are a great job applicant, some employers will not bother to go through the work permit application process to hire a foreign citizen if they can hire another applicant who doesn’t need a work permit.
In some countries which require visas, a student type of visa will not enable you to get hired. Usually student visas restrict the full-time employment of their holders. So, you will need to change the visa – that is, apply again for a working/business type of visa. This process will need confirmation from the company which is ready to hire you, among other requirements. Even if you plan to start your own businesses and be self-employed, you should check the special regulations applying to citizens of your country/region.
Check out: Top 5 Jobs for MBA Grads
English is a popular language of instruction in many MBA and Master’s degree programmes specialised in business and management. Programmes taught in English can be found across continents and cultures.
What you should consider is how comfortable you will be living in a country where English is only really spoken in your university or even just in your programme. In this case, out of class you will need to communicate in another language.
Choosing a country whose language you do not know can be both a great challenge and a great opportunity. Your stay abroad can help you master another foreign language – this is always a great asset. However, if you feel this will put additional stress on you, choose a country where English is widely spoken.
Just like the language, the culture is something in which you will be immersed during the full course of your studies, be it for one year or two.
Cultures differ not only by region, country or ethnic group, but also by b-school and programme. Some b-schools are famous for creating a competitive spirit during studies, as opposed to others that nurture a cooperative culture.
Check out: American vs European MBAs
Moving to another country can also take you to another climate and daylight length. These are factors that strongly affect the performance of some individuals. You should be ready to invest your best levels of energy in your graduate studies. This is especially true for MBA studies where the programme will test your stamina anyway. So, select a comfortable part of the world in terms of temperature, humidity and daylight length, especially if these factors particularly affect you physically and mentally. A graduate programme lasts at least nine months. Of course you could get accustomed, but it may well turn out to be quite a challenge.
Distance from home, family, friends and business network is important. Despite the comfort that modern communication technologies and social networks provide, home-sickness and culture shock are emotions that still exist.
If you want to be able to get back home easily and cheaply, select a destination which is well connected to your home country and dedicate a budget for your travel back home.
Check out: Why Get an MBA in Europe?
On-campus residence halls or student flats are not always available, especially in graduate school. Also in some cases this option is more expensive than renting a flat off-campus and sharing with a couple of other students.
So, as far as accommodation is considered you have to think about your budget, as well as which kind of option will provide the best environment for your studies and socialising.
The budget for your education and living expenses is a factor that you have to be highly realistic about. There are various options to secure funding – personal savings, family support, scholarships, grants, assistantships, stipends, employer sponsorship, and loans. Aim to ensure all funding in advance.
Just as b-schools have different tuition fees, countries, regions and cities can be more or less affordable. Living expenses in some locations can be as high as your tuition fee, making the overall cost of your studies overwhelming. Other options can be really affordable. So, research ahead and plan your budget to cover all costs – tuition and fees, accommodation, travel, food, medication, books, equipment and consumables, health insurance, etc.
‘East or West - home is best’ may well be true for you. But is you are committed to exploring new countries and immersing yourself in new cultures, look for the place where you feel most at home so that you can both commit to your studies and enjoy your stay.