A diverse and global job market

Usually, European MBA students are recruited by consulting companies interested in analysis and multicultural studies. On the other hand, bank and insurance sectors have also started to recruit in Europe, because they are looking for people able to work anywhere in the world, in non-structured environments such as the new markets in Asia and South America.

Recruitment possibilities are further increased by greater market mobility on the Old Continent. Thanks to the Bologna Accord, most European MBA graduates have access to the job markets in most countries in both Europe and Asia.

According to the GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey 2012, only 6% of MBA alumni respondents had not yet found employment, a far lower rate of unemployment than among their non-MBA peers, as the European Union unemployment rate was 10.3% in October 2011 according to the European Commission Eurostat.

Shorter and more focused MBAs

Doing an MBA in Europe is taking advantage of the chance to study a practical diploma relevant to the industry and the multicultural environment. Students will discover that competencies learnt during the MBA can quickly be applied in the every-day life of a company. Due to their integration with companies, EU MBAs offer efficient courses adapted to the market. For example, EM Lyon (France) specializes in entrepreneurship, Vlerick Leuven Gent in Belgium, Rotterdam School of Management (Netherlands) focuses on environmental, social and governance issues, SDA Bocconi (Italy) on finance and luxury brand management. Switzerland has a unique MBA programme, the International Organizations MBA at the University of Geneva (HEC), which prepares professionals for careers in international governmental and nongovernmental organizations and companies.

Generally, MBA programmes in Europe are more flexible and shorter in duration. The length of a European MBA is usually about 10-15 months, and, as stated by ESC Rennes, “This does notmean that because our programme is shorter,quality is lower”. One example is ESADE Business School (Spain), which boasts flexible programmes which students can complete for 12, 15 or 18 months.

Tuition and living expenses are less for a one year European programme when compared to a two year MBA programme. Also, an MBA student loses just one year of their salary, rather than two, therefore the payback period is less for a European programme than for an MBA in the US. For example, INSEAD states that its MBA graduates recover their MBA expenses in three years or even fewer. After an INSEAD MBA, an average of 2.4 job opportunities are offered to a student, with a salary of around 134,600 US$. In the meantime, programmes in the US are still traditionally 2 years, though recently, under the pressure of tighter budgets and diminished spending, the trend is for them to become shorter in duration.

High return on investment

In fact, the ROI of a European MBA tends to be greater than that of a US MBA. For most MBA candidates the cost of attending business school pays for itself on average in four years. “After ten years post-graduation,” the GMAC report says, “alumni havenearly doubled their return on investment.”

MBA salaries in Western Europe adjusted upwards by almost 10% from the previous year and are now again the highest in the world at an average US $93,400. One example of an excellent return on investment is the Lisbon MBA in Portugal, a joint venture between the Nova SBE and Catуlica-Lisbon business schools. According to the school, the average salary for those who complete the full-time Lisbon MBA programme stands at €58,600.

Measured against the cost of attending the programme, which is €33,000 plus expenses, it’s likely that alumni from the course will have achieved a full return on investment within two years. This is fairly similar for many of the top business schools around the world, but particularly so for those in Western Europe who have 3 to 4 years average return on investment whilst American ones have more like 5 to 6 according to the Business Week survey 2010.

Though according to recent data enrolment on many of Europe’s full-time MBA programmes has slowed down, the situation is stable (due to a significant increase in part-time, executive and specialized MBAs) and the EU remains a prime choice for an MBA degree. There may be many concerns regarding the economic downturn in some Latin countries, but remember that European professional mobility for MBA students is a very common practice. Working professionals tend towards the European MBA whereas recent graduates are more interested in pursuing a traditional 2-year MBA programme from the US. It all greatly depends on what kind of learning experience you are prepared to undertake. For most US students there are many hidden benefits in crossing the Atlantic and receiving a crash course in cultural diversity. And though many US employers might have a preference for high ranked American MBA programmes, more people are looking for the skills which will allow you to be successful in a global economy.

Ultimately, if you choose your school wisely you will be well prepared to meet the needs of the market, while having invested less time and money.

See Part 1