Deciding to study an MBA degree (Master of Business Administration) is a big step for aspiring managers. Is pursuing an MBA program at a business school abroad a good choice? Are the financial investment and the entry requirements justified? All in all, is an MBA degree worth it?
If you're preparing to enter the competitive business world of today, we believe it is.
So, what can you do with an MBA? An MBA will offer you a wealth of advantages, especially when it's from a well-regarded business school. Getting a high MBA salary after graduation, landing a management position, developing a strong professional network, or even becoming your own boss are just a few of the advantages of studying an MBA degree abroad.
Need to know more? Here are the top reasons to start studying a Business Administration degree:
1. Develop advanced and flexible management skills
MBA applicants are usually young businesspeople with a minimum of two years of professional experience. Even senior employees who feel up to the challenge may sometimes apply.
MBA classes will help you develop the skills necessary to keep a company successful. The curriculum of each Master of Business Administration degree can be different, but these are some of the most common competences you’ll develop depending on the study programme you choose:
- Improve leadership and people management skills
- Develop, advertise and sell your products and services
- Network and create connections or partnerships
- Manage difficult situations (e.g. financial crisis, public scandals)
- Keep the company's finances healthy
- Promote and maintain the company’s positive image
- Gather, interpret, and create reports based on industry data
- Hire top talent and improve employee retention
- Create hierarchies that help the company thrive
- Make tough calls at the right time
Studying an MBA degree forces you to get out of the comfort zone. You'll explore the latest International Business trends, apply the newest management tools and techniques, and challenge yourself to improve your business, teams, and collaboration.
An MBA is also a great way to prepare for a changing business environment. The abilities you develop are also the best tools you have to adapt to the unavoidable change of industries, the marketplace, and the ways people do business.
If you plan to change careers, but the industry evolves in a way that messes with your plans, the skills you’ve developed will help you quickly adapt and find a new direction. You’ll also be able to make use of changes in economy and find new business opportunities where others simply try to survive a harsh business environment.
2. A lot of MBA specializations to fit your exact goals
Because of their international popularity, many universities and business schools have developed a diverse range of MBA programs, specialising on different aspects of the business world. So, what MBA specialisations can you choose from? What’s the difference between them? And which MBA subjects are in highest demand?
- General Management – Probably the most popular MBA specialisation. Great for developing an all-round effective business arsenal – great for a very versatile business environment.
- International Business – great if you want to work abroad, or work in a global company with offices in different locations. Great for aligning business goals across borders. As global businesses are growing, this too is an all-round popular specialisation.
- Strategic Management – Prepares you for long-term business planning and back-up planning.
- Finance – Great for bankers, financial controllers, chief financial officers, and finance managers. Courses will focus on Statistics, Data Analysis, Accounting, and more.
- Marketing – Focuses on businesses that rely on promoting products and services.
- Entrepreneurship – Best if you have an original business idea and think about launching a start-up.
- Operations Management – Ideal for managers in charge of optimising production processes. You’ll learn how to run production as efficiently as possible.
- IT Management – Prepares you to do business in the technology sector or do business that heavily relies on technology. This side of business relies heavily on the analysis of collected data and product development based on it.
- Human Resources – Great to learn for managers in charge of HR teams or working with large groups of employees. Focuses on conflict resolution, team development, motivation, defining job responsibilities and more. You can’t go wrong with this one if you’re a people person, as companies will always need good and happy employees.
- Consulting – prepares experts ready to offer an outside opinion for challenges faced by companies. This specialisation also develops your expertise in a variety of sectors and is very well paid.
Keep in mind that there are also a lot of MBAs providing dual specialisations, further upgrading your management capabilities and job-market versatility.
Here are a few universities and business schools that offer diverse types of MBAs:
- James Madison University, the US
- Geneva Business School, Switzerland
- University of Wolverhampton, the UK
- Koc University, Turkey
- Loughborough University, the UK
3. Access to an extensive business network
As an MBA student, you have great networking opportunities. You’ll interact with fellow students, professors and teaching staff (businesspeople with great management experience). And this context will expand your business management capabilities.
Finally, you gain access to the extensive alumni network of that particular MBA programme. Your connections will give you a great overview of the business world. Be ready for a deep understanding of the slightest changes in the business environment and discover new ways to adapt fast. You can reflect on some big business issues and make connections between various global events and world affairs.
4. MBA salaries are some of the highest on the job market
Among the benefits of an MBA degree, job security and high salary are some of the most important. The average income for an MBA graduate is much higher than an employee's with a regular Master's. You can expect to earn twice as much as what you would get from a regular university degree.
If you’re wondering what you can do with an MBA degree or what MBA jobs are available, here are some popular career choices: business operations manager, management analyst, market research analyst, top executive, HR manager, etc.
Average salaries for MBA graduates
According to the QS Jobs & Salary Report, these are some of the average MBA annual salaries in the world:
- In the US – 102,100 USD/year
- In Canada – 99,800 USD/year
- In Australia – 98,400 USD/year
- In Singapore – 82,700 USD/year
- In the UK – 92,400 USD/year
- In Switzerland – 123,500 USD/year
- In Germany – 77,200 USD/year
- In France – 98,500 USD/year
- In Italy – 86,400 USD/year
In two or three years, you cover the investment made with your MBA education.
Average MBA tuition fees
An MBA programme represents a considerable financial investment. To give you an idea about how much you might have to pay, we’ve listed the average tuition costs in popular study destinations offering MBAs.
Keep in mind that you can find more affordable MBA degrees (under 10,000 EUR/academic year) in these countries. At the same time, top business schools can demand higher tuition than these average amounts. Some offer MBA programmes for 60,000 EUR/year with the most expensive going over 100,000 EUR/year.
- The US – 35,000 EUR
- The UK – 20,000 EUR
- Australia – 17,000 EUR
- Canada – 25,000 EUR
- Spain – 20,000 EUR
- Singapore – 35,000 EUR
Which countries have the most affordable MBAs?
By default, MBA programmes don’t come cheap. Still, you don’t have to break the bank if you want to advance your business career. You can find very affordable or even free Masters of Business Administration in the countries listed below.
- Finland – 0 EUR only for EU&EEA students
- Sweden – 0 EUR only for EU&EEA students
- France – 0 – 9,000 EUR/year for all international students
- Austria – 0 – 10,000 EUR/year for all international students
- Germany – 0 – 9,000 EUR/year for all international students
Our list is not exhaustive. You can find affordable MBA degrees in top study destinations, like the US or UK. To do this, use the filters on our website, Mastersportal.com, and select the tuition fee you’re willing to pay.
Which MBAs lead to the highest salaries?
All MBAs lead to high salaries, but some industries pay better than others. According to the U.S. News, these are the top 5 industries where MBA graduates earn the most:
- Financial Services
- Consumer Packaged Goods
If you’re interested in earning more, choose an MBA that will enable you to develop the necessary skills to work in one of these industries. However, don’t allow high salaries to trick you into believing an MBA diploma is the only thing you need. Salaries are determined by many other factors, such as work experience, bonuses, and how well you negotiate your contract.
5. Start your own company from scratch
Many students choose an MBA because they want to become entrepreneurs and learn how to start and grow a business. They have a big dream and want to know how to turn it into reality. Here’s why an MBA can help you become a successful entrepreneur:
MBA professors with real-life experience in starting a business can tell you the major traps you need to avoid and what you should do to make sure your company grows and remains stable over time.
You can find MBA colleagues who have similar interests. Share your ideas with them and see if you can form a common vision. It’s easier to succeed with your start-up if you have a reliable partner who has your back and vice versa.
You’ll learn how to communicate effectively and why it is essential for the success of any organisation. Whether you’re negotiating a contract with the suppliers or explaining your vision to prospective investors, knowing how to express your ideas clearly can make the difference between winning or losing the support and attention of your audience.
Don’t believe you’re the only one who wants to become an entrepreneur. Many MBA graduates end up starting their own business. According to the GMAC research team, “B-school alumni entrepreneurs most often found their own companies (85 percent), and combined, over half establish businesses within the consulting (36 percent) or products/services industry (26 percent).”
6. MBAs are great for a career change and thriving business opportunities
Many students take MBAs to either change the industry they’re working in or advance to a managerial or administrative position. You shouldn’t do both at once, as it’s possible to spread too thin – not having the work experience in the new position to back it up. Approximately 1 in 3 prospective MBA students use their management education to pursue opportunities in new industries or job functions they have not worked in.
It’s a good idea to decide on the industry and job you plan to follow before applying to the MBA. This way, it will be easier to pick the best MBA for your needs and have clear future goals that weigh heavily during your application interview. Also, you’ll have 2 years to develop the exact skills you need for the new job.
The versatility and diversity of MBA programme specialisations are great support for those preparing for a career switch.
Graduates of part-time or full-time MBA programs have higher chances of holding a high-level management position and enjoying successful MBA careers. Over 50% of MBA graduates worldwide are senior managers or board directors. This type of positions brings a higher salary, but also greater responsibilities.
Here are some of the largest companies in the world that hire MBA graduates:
- Bain & Company
- The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
- Goldman Sachs
- JP Morgan
- McKinsey & Company
- Walt Disney
7. Study excellent MBAs all over the world
By earning an MBA degree abroad, you will gain a new perspective on how businesses are handled and get to live in a foreign country during your studies. This will broaden your cultural horizon and your international business career prospects. You can find companies that you want to work for and arrange meetings with potential employers. Who knows, you might end up staying and working in that country after graduation.
When considering which countries are best for studying an MBA, you should search for the nations offering the best MBAs and the best specialisations according to your needs. It’s also important to keep in mind the initial investment like tuition fees, living costs and which employers are more likely to hire you after graduation.
Here are the best countries for studying an MBA and the top business schools in each country:
The United States is the clear winner in terms of top-ranked MBA degrees. The U.S. wrote the book on business and offers MBA specialisations for anything you can think of. It has one of the biggest economies in the world, offers diverse career options and salaries to match them.
In terms of prestige on the job market, an American MBA diploma weighs heavily and may provide the extra edge you need on a competitive job market. The challenge with the U.S. would be the substantial investment and living costs, plus the unpredictable immigration laws.
The United Kingdom has an old tradition in business education and matchless academic quality. There are many one-year MBAs you can choose from. The UK is great if you plan to work in the banking sector, as top MBA graduates are very much in demand by banks in Britain. One drawback would be the unpredictable economic climate with the Brexit situation as well as the status of European students coming to the UK.
France was the first European country to introduce the one-year MBA. Employment following a French MBA is high: 80-90% of graduates from the country's top schools find employment in business sectors. Paris has the largest business district in Europe, also known as the Wall Street of France. The challenge is that you may have to learn French to work in the business industry.
Canada is more affordable than the US, the UK and Australia, while also being present in top international rankings and giving you a better return on investment for your MBA. Because of the relaxed immigration laws, most of the international students who graduate an MBA in Canada stay and work in the county. Canada is also known to have a stable economy, which helps with business ventures that rely on predictability.
Australia has a strong international focus, attracting MBA students from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. This offers great opportunities for networking and has great potential for students who want to specialise on international business. Australian universities also offer many scholarship opportunities. The down-side to Australia is the high living cost.
China has cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong that are massive global financial, trade and industrial centres. Chinese MBA degrees are more affordable than similar studies in other countries worldwide.
The percentage of MBA graduates employed after three months is well over 90% at most Chinese schools, with some schools even achieving 100% post-graduate employment rates. Studying here is also a great opportunity to break into the immense Chinese market that many global companies are trying to get a piece of.
Singapore is a great place to do business in the technology sector, as the country has integrated technology into infrastructure and the lives of its citizens. This is also a very international country with the biggest part of business school faculty and students coming from a foreign nation. An MBA in Singapore is great for specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship. Discover more reasons to study an MBA in Singapore.
8. MBAs are challenging but not difficult to graduate
Many potential students ask if an MBA is too difficult for an average student. The easy answer is “most likely not”. But, as you’ll probably learn during your MBA, your attitude makes up over 50% of your professional success, anyway. So, it’s also possible you’re not asking the right question. Rather than asking if an MBA is too complicated, you can try to develop new ways of looking at the things you consider difficult and take them as challenges or problems to overcome. That’s how a professional business person would look at it.
In short, an MBA is as difficult as you make it, and is as rewarding as you invest in it. In the business world, there is rarely any hand-holding. You either develop into a competent business expert or are surpassed by the competition.
Here are a few class examples that are usually included as part of the curriculum of an MBA degree. These may offer you an insight into how difficult you might find the learning experience for an MBA:
- Accounts for Managers
- Managing Business Environment
- Organisational Behavior
- Managerial Economics
- Financial Management
- Marketing Management
- Operation Management
- Business Law
- Human Resource Management
- Operational Research
- Strategic Management
Most international MBA degree are English-taught. Make sure you demonstrate your language proficiency by taking an English test:
9. You can study an MBA part-time or online
The main benefit of studying an online MBA degree is obviously convenience. You might be busy with your work, or you are simply involved in other activities which are important to you. This doesn’t mean you cannot expand your knowledge about business and management. Online MBA programmes are very flexible. You can study at your own pace and access lectures and course materials whenever you want.
Online MBA courses are also accredited. We’re living in a world where studying online receives the same recognition as on-campus education. Just check the accreditation of your MBA degree or university before enrolling, to make sure you don’t run into a scam. Spotting the difference between a genuine Business degree and a fake one shouldn’t be too hard once you do your research.
Online MBA tuition fees are lower. Another advantage of studying online is that you’ll only have to pay the tuition costs. Moving abroad would involve other expenses like accommodation, transport, and visa expenses (might not be the case; it depends on your nationality).
Here are a few universities where you can study an online MBA:
- Nottingham Trent University Online
- University of Birmingham Online
- Barcelona Executive Business School
- IUBH University of Applied Sciences
- Arden University
If you want to develop your business knowledge but don’t have a lot of time, you can choose a part-time MBA programme, next to your job. Studying a part-time MBA will increase your study duration from 2 to 3 years, sometimes even 4 years, depending on the type of MBA you choose. But a part-time MBA gives you the space to keep earning while studying and not having to put your personal life on hold while taking an MBA. Part-time MBAs may offer weekend classes or may have flexible hours, so you can fine-tune your studies to fit your schedule.
10. MBA degrees accept older students
Is age 30 too old for taking an MBA? What about age 40? As a reference, you should know that the average age of incoming students at Harvard is 27, but more than 10% had 7 or more years of experience. Columbia and UCLA Anderson both welcomed students in their 40s. In Europe, schools such as LBS, INSEAD, HEC Paris and Cambridge Judge have an average age of 29.
The good news is that business schools do not consider age as an essential factor in the admission process. An important criterion is the full-time job experience, and older students have plenty of that because they’ve been on the job market for longer. Usually, the main reason why there aren’t more MBA students in their 30s and 40s is not the age restriction from universities, but that not many of them are applying.
It should be clear to you what your goals are for taking an MBA degree, as you should convince the admission committee that you are motivated to study the MBA and you have a long-term plan in which you believe. Also, if you have good GMAT scores, there should be no problem with the fact that you’re older than the average MBA student.
You may consider taking an Executive MBA that also has a higher average student age. EMBAs are more oriented towards career progression than on a career switch and also have fewer networking opportunities dues to less time spent with colleagues.