The European Option Never Looked So Good: Prices Plunge For MBA Degrees


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Add one more upside to the European MBA for U.S. students. Already, MBA programs in Europe offer an advantage to many students in their typical one-year length, cutting tuition along with opportunity costs. And the top European B-schools tend to accept higher percentages of applicants with lower GMAT scores than in highly ranked U.S. schools.

Over the past year, the strength of the U.S. dollar versus the euro has drastically discounted the price of a European international MBA, and led, school officials say, to increased interest from American would-be MBAs. The euro’s dollar value has plunged from a high of around 1.4 dollars per euro in May 2014 to 1.1 now, making it 21% cheaper for students who use dollars to pay MBA tuition in euros. And with European international MBA classes taught in English whether in Rotterdam, Mannheim, or Paris, getting a European MBA at a discount comes with a fairly smooth cultural transition.

INSEAD‘s current tuition of 65,800 euros costs $71,557 in dollars – but if the euro hadn’t fallen since this time last year, that price would have been $89,488. Of course, the true savings are even higher when you add in the estimated living expenses of 23,800 euros in getting an MBA on INSEAD’s Fontainebleau campus in France. That’s another $7,140 less expensive than only a year ago.


The price differential is less consequential for U.S. students who enroll at schools in Britain. That’s because the United Kingdom government never adopted the euro and kept its own currency, the pound sterling, which hasn’t suffered as significant a fall against the U.S. dollar in the past year. The price break is less than half in the U.K. at 9.8%. At London Business School, for example, the tuition cost for a student starting in its two-year MBA program this August totals 67,750 British pounds, or $103,895. A year ago, it would have cost about $10,000 more, or $113,892, and 10 years ago, the same tuition would have been $123,603.

Cambridge and Oxford, which both have 12-month-long MBA programs, are less expensive. At the University of Cambridge’s Business School the tuition of 44,960 British pounds comes to $68,841 versus $75,580 a year ago, while at Oxford University’s Said Business School the price tag for an MBA is 47,925 pounds, or $73,381 now, compared to $80,565 just 12 months earlier.

But the biggest discounts occur elsewhere in Europe. At Vlerick Business School in Belgium, the currency differential has cut tuition to US$39,960 for this year, from US$51,060 in 2014. The cost of Catolica Lisbon’s The Lisbon MBA has fallen to US$37,800 from 2014’s US$48,300. In Germany, the European School of Management and Technology’s international MBA price has dropped to US$31,320 from US$40,020.


“What we are already seeing is indeed this impact that more U.S. people will apply and will come to Europe,” says Filip Roodhooft, research dean and MBA program instructor at Vlerick.

While Vlerick’s recent move to Brussels from Leuven was likely a factor in a more than doubling of U.S. applications to Vlerick this year over last, the dollar’s strength probably played a primary role, Roodhooft says. Applicants always mention that “this currency effect has an important impact,” Roodhooft says.

Filip Roodhooft, Vlerick Business School

Filip Roodhooft, Vlerick Business School

There were only three American students in Vlerick’s MBA class of 2014, out of 43 students from 21 countries, but in light of the strong dollar Vlerick has ratcheted up its U.S. recruiting via more aggressive online marketing, and will make a strong effort to use the marketing to attract students to seek out Vlerick representatives at U.S. MBA fairs, Roodhooft says.

While many American students who obtain MBAs in Europe continue working there or elsewhere overseas afterward, considerable numbers return to the U.S. From INSEAD’s MBA class of 2013, for example, 36% of 73 U.S. students–about 7% of the class–came back to the U.S. for jobs after graduating, the same proportion as in 2010.

The number of American students at leading European schools varies widely. At the Rotterdam School of Management, there were 10 Americans out of 140 students in the MBA class of 2014. Students from North America made up 18% of IE’s MBA class of 2014. According to the school’s careers report, 35% of those in the class who obtained jobs went to work in Europe, 28% in Latin America, 12% in Asia, and 12% in North America.

Outcomes for HEC Paris MBAs provide a window into the European job market. Ninety per cent of 2014 MBAs were employed by three months after graduation. Half stayed in Europe. More than half went into industry, with tech companies taking 20% of the employed members of the class. About 25% went into general management, and the same number into marketing and sales. Only 15% went into finance, a drop from the typical 20%, due to the weakness of that sector in Europe. The school’s careers report cites more interest from American firms. “As the U.S. economy continues to improve, we see more and more US based companies looking to increase recruiting in Europe and beyond,” the report says.


INSEAD administrators have yet to see a rise in applications from U.S. students – but interest is clearly on the increase, as indicated by the numbers of Americans attending marketing events in the U.S., says Virginie Fougea, associate admissions director for degree programs. “We’ve seen great attendance . . . a noticeable change in attendance,” Fougea says.

Fougea notes that for would-be MBAs, it typically takes two years between considering the degree and applying to schools. INSEAD administrators expect they will “most likely” receive increased applications from U.S. students if the currency differential remains or widens, as applicants commit to applying for an MBA.

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