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How American MBA Programs Are Becoming More Global

Overseas may be where the future is, but it’s not where American MBAs are heading to land jobs. According to a recent Financial Times survey, just 12% of American-born MBA graduates are moving to a different country to work.  In fact, according to a recent GMAC study, just 3.2% of American MBA applicants are moving overseas to study.

In other words, American MBAs have become like the 20-something adolescent who refuses to move out of the house. Sure, there are more opportunities to make their own rules…but who’s going to cook for them (let alone pay their rent)?

That’s not saying that American MBAs are oblivious to the world east of the Atlantic and west of the Pacific (or south of the Gulf for that measure). If they’re working for a consulting firm, there’s probably a good chance that they’ve set up shop in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, or London for a few weeks. Even more, they’ve probably spent some time overseas as part of their MBA program.

And an international excursion has become a cornerstone must-have for MBA programs. Remember how excited you were for field trips in 8th grade to break the monotony? Multiply that by two for business school students. Instead of trekking off to visit a museum or a VIP, MBAs are hitting manufacturing plants, government bureaus, and tech farms over the holidays or spring break to learn exactly how business ticks overseas.

Indeed, American MBAs may not be relocating overseas, but they are certainly being immersed in international business according to a new U.S. News & World Report article. From exchanges to satellite campuses to specialized courses to international projects, American MBAs are gaining the tools to compete globally here at home.

Projects, in particular, were helpful in helping students apply what they learn. MIT Sloan, for example, has established a partnership with the Malaysian central bank to establish the Asia School of Business in Kuala Lumpur. The agreement includes faculty and student exchanges, along with an action learning project in Malaysia for MIT Sloan MBA students. And the joint venture has already paid dividends. Relying on its connections to the airline industry,  the school partnered with a regional airline to revamp its scheduling system using tools like data analytics. “They proposed a new approach to scheduling that would generate over $100 million in profit,” gushes Charles Fine, dean of the new Asia School of Business in profit, in U.S. News. He adds that the airline is implementing the students’ plan.

Academic schools are also pooling their resources to enhance student experience, with U.S. News citing a joint MBA-master’s program established between Wharton and Penn’s Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies. The African program, which starts this summer, involves students learning French before spending two months traveling around the country to meet with organizations and officials.

Even with that, American students don’t necessarily have to step out the states to better understand the nuances of international business. “Because of technology, boundaries across all industries are breaking down,” says M.S. Krishnan, associate dean for global initiatives, in an interview with U.S. News. “The contextual and cultural immersion in important markets becomes an advantage for students when they go into the job market.”

To read about other examples, click on the U.S. News link below.


Sources: U.S. News & World Report and Financial Times

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