The Best Cities For MBAs


Barcelona: “I love everything about Barcelona. I feel a part of me now will always be from Barcelona. The culture, art, architecture, music, football, beach, mountains, and life in this city is just contagious, I feel I’m the main character everywhere in this city. I could not have chosen a better city with joy and perfect harmony for this experience. Even after 1.5 years here, I still feel I’m not done with this city and can’t wait to come back and re-experience this city at another point in my life.”
Kimia Koushesh, ESADE Business School

“I think Barcelona has been great to do an MBA: it is just the right size so that you have a wide community of international people and food options (I love eating out!), but small enough so that you can walk or bike to most places to meet up with friends. With student-organized workout sessions in parks, picnics at the beach, hikes in nearby mountains or drinks at local “Vermuterias”, sunny Barcelona has been an incredible host to the IESE community. Being in Europe has also allowed us to travel throughout the continent and beyond (already visited 3 different countries in Africa as well!) and form deeper relationships with our MBA friends while travelling.”
Stephanie Place, IESE Business School

Berkeley: “Berkeley is a relatively small college town that made me feel at home immediately. With San Francisco right around the corner, it combines the best of both worlds; you get the home-like feeling of being in an intimate environment mixed with the benefits of going into the city to seek out sporting events, concerts, and restaurants.”
Aron Bjorn Bjarnason, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

Bloomington: “The close proximity of everything and everyone. Coming from Los Angeles, which is spread out, it could take an hour to drive 10 miles sometimes. And if you want to meet your friends after work, forget about it. But here, people live either within walking distance or a 10 minute car ride from each other. It makes getting together or social activities or doing homework so easy, and you get to build a deeper connection with your classmates. Bloomington in general is a nice break from a larger city like Los Angeles with more amenities than a typical small town (and the cost of living doesn’t hurt).”
Brittany Bolden, Indiana University (Kelley)

MIT Sloan Aerial View of Boston – Credit: Patricia Favreau

Boston: “Boston is known as the “ultimate student city.” Here you can find a plethora of college students, both graduate and undergraduate as it is home to around 44 institutions. It is impossible to fall short of having nothing to do. Whether it be the energy and passion of Red Sox fans at Fenway Park, grabbing a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry in the North End, kayaking across the Charles River on a warm summer day, or being in the crowd cheering on runners during Boston Marathon, the unique charm, history, and energy of this city cannot be replicated. I could not have asked for a better city to spend my two years of business school in.
Aashka Shah, Boston College (Carroll)

“I feel that Cambridge and Boston have everything you could wish for from a big city but on a smaller, bite-size scale. I’ve loved three things the most. First is the music scene. Just one stop away from NYC, artists –both big and small – also tour Boston. I’ve never been to so many concerts and raves as I have during my time here. Secondly, it’s close to the water! I’ve learned how to sail on the Charles River (also a cool MIT perk) and I’ve gone whale watching in the Massachusetts Bay. Last, is the closeness of everything, it’s a very walkable city and the public transportation is amazing. Everything can be reached between 15-20 mins. For me, coming from a traffic-ridden, land-locked city like Mexico City, I love it here.”
Paolo Luciano Rivera, MIT (Sloan)

Cambridge: “Cambridge is a perfect balance of city and country. The university holds a particular beauty that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The city of Cambridge is vibrant. A vast majority of people living and working in Cambridge hail from other countries, which provides incredible opportunities to learn about different cultures (and eat some truly delicious food). While the city is bustling and lively, just minutes outside of city centre are rolling hills, historic farms, country estates and quite a few castles. One can find the exuberance of a city and the peace of the country all in one place.”
Taylor Barden Golden, Cambridge Judge

“The laid-back intellectual richness of Cambridge. Almost everyone you meet is doing some cool and interesting thing, be it in physics, genetics, literature, or business within Silicon Fen. So, when you sit down in one of the numerous cafes and restaurants (which I love sampling) and have a casual chat, you are amazed at just how much work other students, PhDs and fellows are doing. When you live the Cambridge experience, you get to understand why it is the home to many greats, why it has stood the test of time, and why it has such a rich history.”
Daisy Moraa Ong’angi, Cambridge Judge

Chicago: “At Chicago Booth, students truly get the best of both worlds when it comes to location. We have access to a stunning campus while also having the opportunity to live in a vibrant and cultural city with a unique blend of food, culture, and diversity. Chicago has a world-class culinary scene and serves as a hub for arts and culture as home to world-renowned museums and host to many Broadway shows, festivals, and events. Having lived in Chicago prior to applying to Chicago Booth, I’ve enjoyed sharing parts of the city with my classmates who are eager to take advantage of all Chicago has to offer.”
Saron Strait, University of Chicago (Booth)

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus: “There is so much to love about Columbus! Columbus is one of the only cities where you can check out a museum downtown, go to a sporting event, and visit one of the surrounding farms to pick up fresh produce – all on the same day. Columbus is welcoming and quick to embrace you. So many corporations have headquarters here, making it an ideal place to plant roots.”
Michelle Weingartner, Ohio State (Fisher)

Evanston: “The biggest myth I’ve heard about Kellogg is that it’s based in a small town far from everything. Not true. Kellogg is right around the corner from downtown Chicago. It’s just a 20-minute drive away from the hustle and bustle of the Windy City. Being an international student, I had no idea what to expect. However, I have to say that I fell in love with the location of Northwestern University. At Kellogg you naturally form a close bond with your classmates since everyone is living in the college town. However, you’re never too far away from hanging out in the city. A regular activity during my weekend used to be scouting Chicago with my friends for the best ethnic foods.”
Raisul Chowdhury, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Fountainbleau: “Having lived in a big city like London for the past 10+ years, I love the cozy size of Fontainebleau that means you’re always bumping into fellow INSEADers, so it’s easy to socialise. Plus, the Chateau de Fontainebleau and its gardens are really beautiful to explore on a sunny weekend.”
Rebecca Chandler, INSEAD

Gainesville: “I love Gainesville’s natural attractions. There are so many different nature trails, parks, and springs for you to explore. One of my favorite places to visit is Silver Springs. The water is so clear and beautiful, if you go at the right time, you can see manatees and even monkeys!”
Alexandrea Perkins, University of Florida (Warrington)

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire >>> File photo

Hanover: “Having spent the better part of a decade in Los Angeles before Tuck, it was easy to be dismayed by Hanover’s lack of my beloved chains such as Sweetgreen, Orangetheory, and Trader Joe’s. However, that lends itself to a small-town, homey charm that has become the very thing I love about Hanover, New Hampshire. Walking down Main Street, you sort of feel mentally and spiritually transported to Stars Hollow (the fictional town setting of Gilmore Girls). You quickly start to recognize the people who work in each of the restaurants, bars, shops, and pharmacies because they stay the same – and even more quickly, they learn and remember your name. Unlike many places of business in the big cities I’m used to, they also make time to ask about your day and learn who you are. Everything just moves at a slower, familiar pace. My initial dismay has fully dissipated, and I will be incredibly sad to say goodbye to this special place.”
Sam Haws, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Houston: “Houston is not a city that you instantly fall in love with, but it definitely grows on you over time. I love the diversity that Houston has to offer. You get to meet people from all walks of life and experience their culture through various festivals, events, and food. As a foodie, I also love the fact that the city’s diversity brings with it a multitude of cuisine options and hence, you never get tired of eating out.
Siddhant Pawar, Rice University (Jones)

Irvine: “Irvine is home to a diverse range of industries, including technology, healthcare, and finance. This provides a supportive and thriving business community that can be valuable for professional growth and development. I personally enjoyed being a part of several women’s networking events, meeting future female leaders, sharing ideas, and building strong relationships. Irvine is also a great hub for recreational activities. Hiking, biking, swimming, and surfing are some of the things you can do over the weekends. UC Irvine is also home to a number of cultural institutions, including the Irvine Barclay Theatre, and the UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts, which offer a range of events and performances throughout the year.”
Ridhima Raina, UC-Irvine (Merage)

Cornell Bear in Ithaca, New York

Ithaca: “It’s the perfect size and place to be for a two-year MBA program specifically. It’s small enough that you are always surrounded by your fellow students and will constantly run into people you know. At the same time, it’s large enough that there are places to get away and enjoy nature or a quiet space. It’s a town that encourages being involved in your MBA community while still giving you space to be yourself.”
Veronique Falkovich, Cornell University (Johnson)

“I love the natural beauty of Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Ithaca wears all four seasons beautifully and has a charm during each one. Some of my favorites were experiencing the Flat Rock stream in the summer, skiing Greek Peak in the winter, and watching the sunrise on the slope or hiking at any time of the year. These moments were key to catching a breath during the MBA or catching up with friends.”
Monica Mercado, Cornell University (Johnson)

Jouy-en-Josas: “Although HEC Paris is actually located in the suburban town of Jouy-en-Josas, I love how we are still close to central Paris! Thanks to the free shuttle buses that the school offers, I go to Paris frequently because the bus ride is less than 30 minutes. HEC Paris is also a short 25-minute taxi ride away from Orly Airport (France’s 2nd busiest airports) and a 15-minute ride from Massy high-speed rail station, so traveling afar is easy from HEC.”
Jay Yen, HEC Paris

Sunset in Lausanne, Switzerland

Kingston: “There are so many things to love about Kingston! The restaurants in Kingston are top notch. Additionally, Kingston in the summertime is so peaceful, from walks along the waterfront to swimming in Lake Ontario.

Given my interest in history, I also love that Kingston is one of the oldest cities in Canada, with a rich history dating back to the 1600s. The city has so many iconic landmarks and buildings, one of the most interesting being Kingston Penitentiary, Canada’s oldest reformatory prison.”
Caitlin MacCuish, Queen’s University (Smith)

Lausanne: “I absolutely loved the beauty of Lausanne, Switzerland. I remember sipping coffee on my balcony as I stared in awe at the tranquility of Lake Geneva and the breathtaking beauty of the Alps and their snowy peaks in the background. A stressful day was easily remedied with a soothing lakeside walk.

I love to be active, and I love nature. Back home, I would hike all around sunny Cape Town and run along the beach. Lausanne offered me those same simple pleasures, but within a snowy wonderland that I had never experienced before. I’m so grateful for how Lausanne showed me that beauty comes in different shades and forms and that different does not necessarily mean better.”
Craig Ian Plaatjes, IMD Business School

“The lake. In Lausanne you’ve got beautiful nature spots on your doorstep, so I (and many of my classmates) liked to make the most of that whenever we had the chance. We did this by going for long walks along the shore, grabbing a drink accompanied by spectacular views, or actually getting into the lake! The gorgeous scenery also provided the ideal backdrop for all the self-reflection IMD challenges us to take the time to do. It’s as if the lake was designed with IMD in mind!”
Amanda Tan, IMD Business School

London: “London is a truly global city, with a diverse population and a rich cultural heritage. This means that there is always something new to explore, whether it’s trying new foods, visiting museums and galleries, or attending festivals and events. I’m a huge runner, and one of my favourite things to do in the city is planning and running a route around London’s various parks and canals. My absolute favourite – and one which few LBS students explore due to it being far from Marylebone – is Victoria Park in east London.”
Cameron Martin, London Business School

Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles: “Los Angeles is a fantastic city. I never thought the winter could be so short and fun until I moved here. I get to spend so much time outside, strolling on the beach, running around campus, or walking in the city’s parks. There’s also this Southern California spirit, pushing you to be positive and enjoy life. The food is phenomenal, and I love keeping track of my favorite restaurants and cafes. Finally, I love exploring the city’s vibrant art scene, and I’ve been to jazz concerts, edgy improv shows, and world class museums.”
Tiphaine Grosse, UCLA (Anderson)

“This is where my business school is located, offers several attractive features that many students enjoy. One of the most notable is the access to stunning beaches, which are perfect for relaxing, exercising, and socializing. Whether it’s Venice Beach or Santa Monica Beach, there is always a beautiful and lively scene to explore. Additionally, Los Angeles boasts a diverse and vibrant food scene that is sure to satisfy any craving. From delicious street tacos to upscale sushi, there are endless opportunities to try new and delicious cuisine. The combination of beachfront access and an exciting food scene makes Los Angeles an ideal place to attend business school.”
Yang “Jason” Yang, USC (Marshall)

“I consider myself a native Angeleno since I’m from Los Angeles County so I may be a little biased. But what I love most about LA is that there really is something for everyone. We have beaches, mountains, desert, valleys – we also have Michelin star restaurants, every cuisine you can think of, theme parks, state parks – you name it. There aren’t enough weekends in the MBA experience to try everything but I love that every weekend is different. Except for street tacos – my go-to is Brothers Cousins on Sawtelle and you’ll never convince me to go anywhere else.”
Lillian Fan, UCLA (Anderson)

Madison: “Madison is also where families come to bond on the lake, friends and alumni reunite over food and drinks, and art and history lovers enjoy live music and museums galore. There is always an event going on in Madison, such as farmers markets, outdoor concerts, beer gardens, sport events, and more that make everyone feel right at home.

Memorial Union terrace is my favorite place to hang out with my friends which is situated at the lakefront. There are many more hidden corners to explore in this Madison, and I will continue to look forward to finding those hidden gems.”
Dipika Garg, Wisconsin School of Business

Minneapolis: Lakes! Minneapolis is known as the City of Lakes. During the summer, I have walked around the city shorelines and in winter, I’ve walked across the lakes once the water has frozen. Although the winters in Minneapolis can be brutal, there are ample outdoor activities one can engage themselves in and walking on the frozen lake was quite an experience.
Sanket Jasani, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Montreal: “It is a lusciously vibrant city. Its unique blend of cultural diversity, history, food, nightlife, nature, and events make it a great place to live. Whether you want to take a calm walk along the Lachine Canal, enjoy a delicious meal at a trendy restaurant, or attend one of the numerous festivals hosted every year, there is no shortage of exciting things to do around the city.”
Larry Komrower, McGill University

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