Getting an MBA has always been a prestigious distinction and because of increasing interest in programs, there are many new options available provide all those interested with the option that they need. For those who cannot leave their careers, there are MBA schools online that provide students with a flexible schedule that allows for night and weekend classes. For those who want a more cosmopolitan experience, there are also a growing number of study abroad programs at the MBA level.
What the many international MBA programs have to offer students is a global experience and exposure to international business affairs, something important in a whole whose boundaries are blurring. Some MBA programs require an international experience as part of a one- or two-year degree. Students may choose to study in a foreign country for anywhere from a few days to a semester, and it will help prepare them for a career in international business and they may end up working abroad, as an increasing number of MBA graduates (25% of those from Wharton) are doing. The global economy offers both promise and concern, and many future business leaders are bypassing the allure of Wall Street for international jobs. Many feel that a study abroad is an eye-opening introduction to the financial interconnectedness of the world.
- One school which does offer work experience abroad is the Boston University School of Management. It offers Study Abroad and Internship programs, the latter giving “the opportunity to gain valuable, practical work experience by participation in management-related internships abroad.” Students may intern abroad while taking classes at universities in Ireland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, or France.
- The University of Arkansas’ Walton College School of Business offers study-abroad opportunities that “focus on international business practices seen first-hand.” Students “tour corporate and manufacturing headquarters, meet top company executives, and visit distribution centers in key international business centers.” Walton College offers Business Seminars in China, Brazil, Greece, India and Japan.
- The Wharton School in Pennsylvania offers many global opportunities to its MBA students, including Global Modular Courses, which are intensive four-day workshop format courses in a certain geographical location which is relevant to the topic being studied, for example, health care delivery in India. Wharton also has a Global Immersion Program (GIP), which is “designed to provide a high-level survey of the economic, cultural and geo-political drivers behind regions integral to the global economy.” Students attend some faculty lectures on campus, then travel abroad to meet with business leaders, government officials, and Wharton alumni. Still another program is the Wharton International Volunteer Program, in which students travel to Africa, Asia, or South America and apply their business skills working as consultants on economic development and improved quality of life.
- A more typical experience abroad is offered by St. Mary’s College’s Greehey School of Business. Their program “takes students to global destinations for a concentrated learning experience during which they are exposed to diverse business cultures and learn from local experts.” The philosophy is that the global economy cannot be ignored, so those who will be professionals should gain a first-hand understanding of the global context.
- Another option for MBA students is to study at business schools located in other countries, such as INSEAD in Singapore, or the London Business School. Work experience may not be built into the curriculum, but many schools offer good connections for internships and networking. Naturally, it would be easier to be hired at a company abroad if you are already there and the partners have a chance to meet you.
Getting an MBA has the potential to over almost any door around the world, not just because students are going abroad but also because MBA programs teach students to be tenacious entrepreneurs – no matter where they are physically located. As the world moves towards an integrated global economy, it will be important to see not only the opportunities in our own backyard, but also those across the water and below the border.