Best Places To Study Business Abroad

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

The Best Places to Study Business Abroad


For many international students, the United States is an academic destination. In fact, international students enrolling in American colleges and universities grew by 476% from 2001-2012. In graduate schools, business students comprise over 30% of students with F-1 visas.

Mind you, American b-school students aren’t flocking overseas in similar droves. But earning an MBA – or at least studying abroad for a semester – offers some real perks. For starters, immersing yourself in a language and culture makes you more attractive to top employers, who likely maintain outposts (and clients) in these countries. You can build a truly global network, while getting an inside look at particular markets and industries. As a practical matter, the one-year models inherent to many overseas programs are a real money-saver. Bottom line: Studying abroad can help you start fast and thrive in an overseas market…a key selling point when you’re looking to move into executive leadership.

Not to mention, you’ll find the real growth outside American shores. India is emerging from its sorry socialist slog, just as China is deflating its construction bubble, goosing consumption, and embracing alternative energy. Southeast Asia and Africa are exploding, while economies in Mongolia and Panama are buoyed by natural resources and shipping respectively. Combined, the European Union actually produces a higher GDP than the United States. And nations like Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey have managed to sustain growth.

In other words, the real opportunities are emerging overseas. And there are plenty of schools where American students can get closer to the action. In continental Europe, you have the four I’s: Insead, IESE, IMD, and IE Business School (not to mention HEC Paris, SDA Bocconi, and Mannheim Business School…among others). In the UK, students can choose from the University of London, Cambridge, Warwick, and Cass. In the Asian sphere, you have the University of Hong Kong, the Indiana Institute of Management, and Melbourne Business School (again, among others).

To navigate these schools, you first need to adapt to culture shock. And that means becoming familiar with variances that you might take for granted: cost of living, climate, and cultural mores.


Matt Symonds

Recently, Matt Symonds, chief editor of and a director at Fortuna Admissions conducted a survey with students from 29 business programs that were part of CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education. According to Symonds, the sample was composed of students who were “required to spend at least one term at a partner school in another country… as part of their Master’s in International Management.” As part of the survey, Symonds gathered information on climate and cost of living (including housing, cappuccino, and MacBook Pros) for each location.

For students who grew up in a particular nation, Symonds asked, “What are the three key things you think someone coming to study in your home country should know before they arrive?” Conversely, students who studied abroad were asked, “What are the three key things you wish you had known before you began studying at a school outside your home country?” The answers were then compiled and included in Symonds’ Forbes article.

Before you head off to a faraway land armed only with a translation guide and a currency calculator, here are some insider tips on blending in and getting the most out of your overseas experience:

Sydney, Australia (University of Sydney Business School)

“Make friends with locals who have cars or use ‘carshare’. The public transport system is limited and unreliable so you will definitely need a car to really explore the whole city and surrounding areas.”

– Madeleine Brown

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

“Stick to a pre-planned budget. Food, drinks and rent are expensive compared to the rest of the world, so you’ll benefit from budgeting. Visiting Chinatown (close to campus) will give you some cheap grocery market options.”

– Madeleine Brown

“Watch out for the winter weather. Despite what you might think, winter in Sydney is really not that warm, so pack accordingly.”

– Susanna Garancini


Vienna, Austria (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

“Austrian’s are more friendly and helpful then they might seem at first sight so don’t hesitate to ask for help or information. Moreover, Austrians are NOT German; we are Austrians – somewhere between Germans and Italians.”

-Alex Wallner

“Vienna is big on tradition – be it music, art or opening hours. While residing in the city with the highest quality of living in the world, you will have a variety of cultural offerings at your fingertips. However, this also means that certain traditions and practices have not changed here: Shops are closed on Sundays. Smoking in bars is still possible. And Viennese waiters are still as grumpy as ever.”

– Bettina Andrea Schauperl

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.