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Are MBA Programs Dying? 4 Reasons To Worry

Does a European MBA Pay Off More Than a U.S. MBA?

Lower costs was one of the biggest reasons why Amanda Hopkins, a 29-year-old Princeton University grad, chose a European MBA over an American one.

Hopkins recently graduated from The Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, receiving her MBA in just one year.

“Being out of work for less time was appealing to me,” Hopkins says. “The cost factor was definitely persuasive in comparison to American schools.”

For students like Hopkins, an MBA can be an expensive investment. Farran Powell, a reporter at US News, recently published a US News article comparing the pay off between an MBA from a top European institution and an MBA from a top US institution.

Difference in Cost

Take tuition. Harvard Business School has a price tag of $72,000. With fees and room/board, the total comes out to a whopping $106,800. And that’s only for one year. Compare that to a University of Cambridge MBA, where tuition for one year is approximately $70,000 USD. In other words, an MBA can save over $140,000 by choosing a one year program like Cambridge.

At a top business school in the US, students can also expect to forego two years of salary. At a European business school, students typically only spend one year working towards an MBA. As a result, some MBA graduates of European programs have recouped $100,000 a year earlier than their American counterparts.

That’s important when combined with tuition. According to a new Forbes ranking of the top 25 MBA programs, the average payback period for graduates of Top 25 schools on their investment in an MBA (tuition and forgone salary) was 3.9 years. That means students earning a European MBA can expect to suffer less opportunity cost as they are able to work sooner instead of studying for a second year.

More American students pursuing European MBAs

A “Prospective Students Survey” by the Graduate Management Admissions Council found that 59% of prospective students “seek to study outside their country of citizenship.” According to the survey, the US still remains the top international study destination for prospective students, but the percentage has decreased from 61% to 58% since 2009.

Virginie Fougea is the director of MBA recruitment and admissions at INSEAD Business School in France. Fougea tells US News that INSEAD has seen an increase in the number of US applicants.

“For our last August intake, we had received an increase of 35 percent of applicants from North America compared to the previous year,” Fougea says.

More opportunity abroad

Kevin Newton is an MBA admissions consultant and founder of An Education Abroad, which advises graduate students on applying to programs abroad. Newton tells US News students primarily choose a European MBA not only for the cost but for the work opportunity.

“Overwhelmingly, one of the things brought up is the opportunity for international work experience,” he says.

Jordan Hendricks is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast’s MBA program, where tuition is $26,000 USD per year. Hendricks, who is from Buford, Georgia, tells US News that her European MBA is paying off.

“I definitely feel that from what I paid for the course that I’m getting a lot more out of it,” she says. “In the long run, so far, it seems once you have an MBA, it’s great if you went to Harvard and some of these really great schools, but longer term if you have an MBA, you have an MBA.”

Sources: US News, Harvard Business School, University of Cambridge, Graduate Management Admission Council